The Corner

Lieberman Breaks with McCain: Don’t Cut Off Egypt Aid

The retired Democratic-turned-independent senator expressed guarded optimism about the state of affairs in Egypt, and declared that, contra his former ally John McCain, the U.S. shouldn’t cut off its aid to the Egyptian military.

He explained to Sean Hannity today that the early-July coup ”was the military responding to a lot of people in the street who didn’t want the Muslim Brotherhood running the country. It takes more than an election, as you know, Sean, to make a democracy . . . it takes the rule of law, which Morsi was methodically suppressing.”

He added, “I’m actually going to disagree with my buddy John McCain; I don’t think we should suspend military aid.” Instead, he argued, the United States should continue its assistance while demanding that the military-installed government do its best to arrange a representative, constitutional government. “I think they had a taste of what the Muslim Brotherhood was going to do, and they didn’t like it,” he said, not least because “most people are not” Muslim extremists.

Lieberman expressed hope for a post-Brotherhood era, declaring, “The Egyptian people have a chance at a better life; the entire region has a chance” now that “an extremist like Morsi” is out of power. “The best thing they could use over there is technocrats, people who actually know what they’re doing,” he said.

The former senator explained he’d had a different vision of how the situation would go after President Hosni Mubarak’s fall: ”I got to know Mubarak pretty well, and he was far from perfect, but he was a good ally of ours, and he kept the peace for the Israelis.” Having visited Egypt shortly after Mubarak’s downfall, he said, “I hate to acknowledge this, but your vision that the Muslim Brotherhood would win the election was not the general feeling; the feeling was that the people who led the revolution, the secularists, the modernizers, would win, and the Islamists would come along in the second round,” because whoever won first “would have a hard time governing” because of the dire state of the Egyptian economy.

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