Sens. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have finally come around to joining Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in believing that the U.S. should cut off aid to Egypt amid the deteriorating conditions in that country.
In a joint Friday afternoon statement, McCain and Graham called for the $1.5 billion of annual U.S. aid to Egypt to be cut off until conditions improve there.
“The massacre of civilians this week in Egypt has brought our longstanding relationship with that country to a fork in the road,” McCain and Graham said. “The interim civilian government and security forces – backed up, unfortunately, by the military – are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them.”
“We condemn all acts and incitement of violence against civilians, including those that supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi have committed against Christians and other Egyptians,” they added. “At the same time, we cannot be complicit in the mass slaughter of civilians. It is neither in our long-term national interest nor consistent with our values and laws to continue providing assistance at this time to Egypt’s interim government and military. We urge the Obama Administration to suspend U.S. assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt’s descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served U.S. national security interests.”
McCain and Graham argued that the “horrific violence” this week in Egypt has “only made the difficult goal of national reconciliation in Egypt even harder to achieve, but there is no decent or effective alternative to that process.”
“Egyptians bear the responsibility for recent events in their country, and for its future,” they said. “It is clear that most Egyptians do not want a radical Islamist government or a return to military rule. There are steps that all sides can take to save Egypt from a future of protracted instability and stagnation, but Egyptians must make these choices themselves.”
Both Graham and McCain opposed an amendment Paul offered in late July that would have redirected the $1.5 billion per year the U.S. spends on Egypt to help rebuilding the interior of the United States. “All I can see is the billions of American tax dollars that he chooses to send overseas,” Paul said on the Senate floor during that battle, according to Politico. “The president sends billions of dollars to Egypt in the form of advanced fighter plans and tanks while Detroit crumbles.
“In our hour of need in our country, why are you sending money to people that hate us?” Paul added.
When McCain opposed Paul’s amendment cutting off aid to Egypt, he argued that such a move would hurt Israel. “This is a question of whether the senator from Kentucky knows what’s better for Israel, or if Israel knows what’s better for Israel,” McCain said.
Graham made the same argument. “I have a letter here from AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] I asked them to comment,” Graham said, according to Foreign Policy magazine. Graham then cited the AIPAC letter: “We do not support cutting off all assistance to Egypt at this time.”
At the time, Paul argued that AIPAC’s statement did not speak for Israel. “There is no unified statement from the nation of Israel,” Paul said. “If you talk to the people, the grassroots and not the so-called leadership you’ll find a much different story.”
Despite their previous arguments, McCain and Graham now both stand with Rand.