Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued Sunday that the U.S. has no credibility in the Middle East after what he characterized as an Egyptian coup—and that the Obama administration should no longer delay suspending aid to the nation because of it.
"We have no credibility," McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union." "We do have influence, but when you don't use that influence, then you do not have that influence."
With much of America's $1.3 billion going to the Egyptian military, McCain said the aid increases anti-American sentiment in the region.
"With Apache helicopters flying overhead (in Egypt), nothing is more symbolic of the United States of America siding with the generals,” he told CNN's Candy Crowley.
McCain said the Obama administration’s handling of Egypt is just one sign of what he described as the president’s lack of foreign policy in the Middle East.
"There is no policy, and there is no strategy," he said. "And therefore, we react, and we react poorly."
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) traveled to Egypt last week at President Obama’s request and said Friday that the interim government and the military are, quote, “taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them.”
US Republican Senator John McCain (L) and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R) address a news conference on August 6, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. The two leading US Senators urged Egypt’s leaders to engage in an ‘inclusive’ dialogue with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi as a way out of the crippling political crisis. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Their statement came in midst of hundreds of deaths as supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi launched demonstrations in defiance of a military-imposed state of emergency.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has had his (many) disagreements with McCain and Graham, has been urging the U.S. to cut aid to Egypt for some time. In his words, we shouldn’t be sending money to people who “hate us.”
Last month, the Senate killed Paul’s effort to cut the $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt. The bill would have redirected the funds to address crumbling bridges in the U.S.
Obama announced Thursday he is scrapping plans for joint U.S.-Egypt military exercises. But the president stopped well short of withholding $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.
Here's a clip of McCain's comments, via CNN:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.