Sen. Corker and Rep. Engel on 'This Week'

Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Eliot Engel on the crisis in Egypt and the U.S. response.
7:26 | 08/18/13

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Transcript for Sen. Corker and Rep. Engel on 'This Week'
Just a minute. Right now, bring the questions, two of the men responsible for making u.S. Policy, bob corker, and the democrat on the house foreign affairs committee, eliot engle. You've resisted calls to suspend u.S. Aid because the u.S. Has to be a voice of calm. But can you justify it in the coup and the crackdown? The actions of the last week will cause us to suspend aid. And at the same time it's a time to recalibrate and look at what is our national interest. There's no question that we overestimated what our leverage was, and we've underestimated the leverage that saudi arabia and uae has had on this government. Let me just stop you right there -- you switched your position, it's now necessary to suspend the aid? Yeah. But let me talk about that. I think we need to look at the tiers of our aid. Let's face it, most of the aid has gone out the door this year. What we're really talking about, george, is a debate that will take place this fall for next year. And I think this whole discussion has been naive and shallow. The fact is that we need to be looking at what is in our national interest. And is it in our national interest to have jihadis that maybe threaten the security of tennesseans and americans? Is it in our national interest with 4.5% of the population and 22% of the world's output to ensure that we have priority passage in the suez canal and continue to have good jobs for tennesseans and americans. We're pushing for the government to act responsibly. I condemn what's happened with the military, but I also condemn what in essence was a political coup by the muslim brotherhood. We need to move the debate along, and this fall hopefully focus on what is our national interest. There are still things within national interest. We need to keep the lines of communication open. That's why it's so difficult to balance for the government and the policy-m congressman, let me bring that to you. Do you agree that now is the time to begin to suspend u.S. Military aid to egypt? No, I don't. I think it's a time to see what the next step should be. Obviously we cannot let what's been happening just happen, but I think we have to be careful and not cut off our nose despite our face. These are difficult choices. I'm unhappy with the crackdown, but we essentially have two choices in egypt. That's a military government, which hopefully will transition as quickly as possible to civilian government, or the muslim brotherhood. I don't think the muslim brotherhood is a choice. Now it's very disconcerting that the generals, the military, have not listened to us, but I think we need to keep it up. I think we need to talk to them, we need to try to influence them, and while it's true that we may have less influence over them than we had before, we still have substantial influence over them. They use our military equipment. I don't believe they want to blow up the relationship. It's a little bit bizarre to understand why they're doing what they're doing, but I don't think you throw the baby out with the bath water. Egypt's an important country, and I think we have to be very careful before we willy-nilly just cut off aid. At the same time, senator, it seems like the entire region is in crisis. You're back from the syrian boarder in turkey, back from jordan and iraq. You have conflicts in those countries right now. And at the same time, it seems like secretary kerry is investing a lot of time in the israeli-palestinian process, which often seems like groundhog day. Does the administration have its priorities straight here in your view? Let me say one thing quickly, george. I hope we will continue to have an aid relationship with egypt. Most of the money is out the door this year, it's time for us to recalibrate. The relationship has been static for the last 35 years. I don't want to cut off our relations. I do expect we will have aid forthcoming in a way that really directly focuses on our national interests. But not cut off? But, look, I think we need to tier it. There are certain things that should not flow. There are certain things in the national interest that continue to need to flow. We want their cooperation in northeast sinai with the suez canal. Look at our national interest. I think aid will continue to flow after we have this debate this fall. The money's out the door now for this year. So I think a suspension, but a re-calibration. And I don't want to cut our nose off despite our face either. Back to the regional issue, no question we are not focusing on very important things. In iraq, the country is devolving. We have a leader there who's done some of the same things the muslim brotherhood did, concentrating power, breaking down democracy. That's creating sectarian violence. And then you look at the regional sectarian violence that's happening in syria, we have all kind of proxies weighing in there. That's destabilizing the region. It's happening in lebanon and jordan. 25% of the population will be syrian refugees in the short future. We have a lot of national interests not being focused on especially, especially it's so apparent in iraq where it's as if we wished the problem to go away. What do we do right now? We're not focusing -- I think the president's approach was appropriate. I think cutting off the maneuvers next month with the egyptian military was an appropriate response. People say it's not enough, but the president is caught between a rock and a hard place. Egypt is an important country. Our policy for the last 35 years has made egypt a staple of security in the middle east. And we really need to continue that. And while it may feel good to say, okay, cut them loose, they're not listening to us, cracking down and murdering people, which is horrific, i hope that behind the scenes diplomacy will prevail. They have to let up a bit, but severing aid is not the right thing to do right now. We have to take each country based on the situation on the ground. And if you -- again, look at the military and the muslim brotherhood in egypt, I don't believe long-range we can be allies and partners with the muslim broadhood. back. It's not in the best interest to continue the crackdown, not saudi arabia or other countries. So I think diplomacy should try to be prevailed. And again I think that a cut off of aid at this moment would be the wrong thing to do. Thank you very much. The panel, martha raddatz, bill

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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