When Secretary of State John Kerry said the Egyptian military was "restoring democracy" just as Sens. John McCain and and Lindsey Graham were in the country urging cooperation, it undercut the mission, Sen. John McCain said.
The two Republican senators were sent to Egypt last week by President Barack Obama. They told the military to release members of the Muslim Brotherhood from jail, set up a dialogue, and move forward with elections.
"That wasn't as impactful as it might have been given the statements and actions by the White House and the secretary of state," McCain said Thursday on CNN's "Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Obama on Thursday condemned a military crackdown the day before, which left at least 525 dead and more wounded. He canceled planned joint military exercises set for next month.
But McCain said Obama didn't go far enough. McCain has condemned the White House for refusing to call the military takeover a coup. Doing so would require the United States to withhold aid.
"A long time ago we should have complied with our law," McCain told CNN. "We violated our own rule of law by not calling it for what it is. … So, initially we undercut our own values, and then we are told that, in media reports, the administration called in the Egyptians prior to the coup and said, if you have a coup then we will be required by law to cut off that aid. They had the coup and, of course, we didn’t do that. That's a blow to credibility."
Kerry's statement legitimized the military government in their own eyes and gave them a green light to take actions to put down any opposition, McCain said.
"There's no doubt that they could kill enough people, they can bring at least some order, but to think they're going to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood flies in the face of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood who have managed to survive under (longtime dictator Hosni) Mubarak and will be able to survive, perhaps, underground, despite the efforts of the generals to eliminate them."
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