John McCain Steps Up Big on Egypt “Coup” Dialogue

In characteristic form,  US Senator John McCain is the first US politician to refer to the ousting of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi as a Coup d’état. McCain’s reference to military overthrow now opens the door on legal ramifications the US has where aid to Egypt are concerned. Interestingly, even Wikipedia is using Morsi’s overthrow in defining the term.

Coup in Egypt

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meeting with President Mohamed Morsi and ironically his deposer, General al-Sisi – courtesy Wikipedia article entitled “2013 Egyptian coup d’état”

US officials have shied away from referencing the recent Egypt overthrow of the Morsi government in these terms for clear reason. The armed overthrow of sitting governments in the manner which took place in Egypt disallows the United States from giving military air of any kind to such governments. Egypt has been the recipient of US arms since Anwar Sadat signed the peace treaty with Israel back in 1979. This “arms” aspect of the US-Egypt relationship is considered one of the key components of US foreign policy in the region. If Congress were to decide this is in fact a coup, the implications would be far reaching.

McCain, President Obama’s opponent in the last election, just returned from visiting Cairo with Senator Lindsey Graham. For those unaware, McCain is intimately familiar with such sensitive issues. As a downed pilot in the Vietnam War, McCain underwent the inhumanity of torture and ultimately refused early release because of the nature of law governing the rules that apply to US military personnel. McCain surely also knows the meaningful way in which “coup” is perceived from a US Senator. Such symbolic technicalities were the stuff anyone visiting the notorious Hanoi Hilton for years would cling to.

Captain John McCain 1973

John McCain just after returning home after years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese. The 1000 yard stare, a look none of my generation can forget – courtesy Wikipedia

While Barack Obama’s campaign may have outspent McCain’s to propel the seated president to a second term, the PRISM affair, the delicate nature of measures being taken abroad, and particularly how ALL government policy affects the American people will capitalize his presidential legacy. If such things matter at all any more.

As the New York Times stated it back when Morsi was overthrown, this “coup” definition brings about the $1.3 billion dollar question, “is it lawful for the US to send jets and ammo to Egypt? Security, security, security, and arms, arms, arms. And here’s where pork barrel politics meet the righteous and Constitutional left out there in Washington. As Howard Berman (who was a California Democrat serving the 28th congressional district) refers to the legality of the matter it in the NYT piece:

“The law by its terms dictates one thing, and sensible policy dictates that we don’t do that.”

In effect, the former representative appears to be taking the “see no, hear no evil” approach to governing here. In his case, perhaps for good reason. While Los Angeles County is not the hotbed of military drone building or aerospace employment it once was, exporting drones as an economic booster is no NSA PRISM super secret agenda for many a US official.

Howard Berman does not think it is “wise” to call the military overthrow of a democratic government a “coup”, but Northrop Grumman Corporation and other weapons manufacturers in the US cannot stand by and let Israel and China outsell US companies in remote killing technology. A final note on Northrop, having just moved their headquarters across the Potomac from the seat of government, the United States’ 62nd biggest producer of air pollution must be turning the green leaf over, this recent press release speaks of environmental awards where once toxic superfund carnage existed. Excuse the cynicism here please.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Drone Caucus and Armed Services Comittee boss - U.S. Congressman Buck McKeon - courtesy Chuck Hagel

Secretary of Defense Hagel and Armed Services Committee boss – Congressman Buck McKeon – courtesy Hagel

The good news in all this “Middle East” mumbo jumbo is that Northrop Grumman shares are up, exceeding 2003 earnings even. The so-called “Drone Caucus” (headed by McKeon above) in Washington does apparently wield a heavy lobbying sledgehammer, which may even limit politician vocabulary? Coup, is John McCain the only holdout at the Capitol Hill Hilton?

Meanwhile, a world away, 18 million people in Cairo watch even their own shadows in suspicion. As this Al Jazeera article suggests, peace and tranquility in Egypt is a far off ideal indeed. One has to wonder at this point where the terror is originating from.


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