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McCain and Graham flipflop on aid to Egypt -- after AIPAC speaks up

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And McCain and Graham sided with AIPAC. The Senate killed Rand Paul's bill to end aid to Egypt on July 31, with McCain and Graham harping on Israel:  

"The floor debate was virtually everyone versus Paul. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said cutting off aid to Egypt would also hurt Israel, a close ally."

Here's the transcript of that debate. (Which Ali Gharib reported first.) Graham and McCain repeatedly cited AIPAC.

"'As you know, Egypt is the largest Arab state in the Middle East and has played a vital role in advancing key U.S. interests in that region,' said the [AIPAC] letter, read into the Senate record on Wednesday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)."

Graham said that if Egypt becomes a failed state, "it would be a nightmare for Israel, and it would take the whole region down a path that would be at best chaotic."

McCain called Rand Paul an isolationist and an American Firster and also cited the AIPAC letter: 

"I think the vote on this amendment has even larger implications than that of whether we should cut off all assistance to Egypt. By the way, my friends, I don't think it is an accident that APAC, our friends there who represent the interests of the State of Israel, have opposed this amendment. If there is further upheaval in the Sinai, and if there is a collapse of the rule of law in Egypt, I don't think there is any doubt that the threat to Israel is dramatically increased."

McCain made a statement about Israel's interests that many have quoted since:

"Again, isn't the question whether the Senator from Kentucky knows what is better for Israel or Israel knows what is better for Israel? The fact is, AIPAC and the Israelis are adamantly opposed to this amendment; isn't that correct?"

It certainly appears that the two men abandoned a position of principle because AIPAC told them to. You'd think they would be buffoons. But they're not. They haven't lost any political capital for this abdication of principle. No, they've gained political capital. The Times said the senators went to Egypt this week "at the request of President Obama." And as Jeff Klein, who pointed me to this story, says, No one in the press is calling them out for flipflopping. It's just not a story when powerful senators dance to AIPAC's tune. 
This is a demonstration of how central AIPAC's ideas are to American foreign policy. As neocon Lee Smith once said, the central plank of the last dictatorship in Egypt was the peace treaty. That is all that matters to the U.S. We're willing to throw everything else overboard for the sake of preserving Israel's security.

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Philip Weiss is a longtime writer and journalist in New York. He co-edits a website on Israel/Palestine,, founded in order to foster the movement for greater fairness and ustice for Palestinians in American foreign policy. He is currently  working on a novel about the US in Australia during WW2.

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