Senator McCain emphasized that assistance to Egypt should be seen as a matter of national security. Acknowledging the difficult budget climate, he said, “We’re all for democracy, we’re all for freedom, but the consequences of failure in Egypt are a direct threat, then, I believe to the United States’ vital national security interests.” Both Senators were joined in their call by Senator John Kerry, who also called for increased foreign assistance to the Middle East to promote democracy and economic reforms.
Senators McCain and Lieberman focused on the need for economic development in the region and for the United States to increase its trade with North Africa to prevent groups like the Muslim Brotherhood or remnants of the Mubarak government from gaining in influence. They urged greater involvement from the private sector, calling for a delegation of American high-tech executives to visit the region as an opportunity for economic growth and for expanding markets in the region.
The devastating cuts to the International Affairs Budget currently being negotiated in the House could limit the United States’ ability to influence decision-makers in Egypt and North Africa, constraining its ability to assist the region in becoming stronger, more democratic, and economically-sound partners.