McCain decries 'backseat role' in Libya

May 1, 2011 at 3:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. John McCain, speaking Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," criticized President Obama for taking a "backseat role" in Libya and "withdrawing" from NATO.

McCain, R-Ariz., commenting on Saturday's NATO airstrike that killed Saif Gadhafi, the sixth son of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, said the military action was "obviously an attempt to remove Gadhafi's command and control."

"We should be taking out his command and control. And if he is killed or injured because of that, that's fine," McCain said.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the Obama administration's involvement in Libya, McCain said the president has "withdrawn from NATO" and the United States has taken a "backseat role."

"America -- the United States is NATO, is NATO. So with the British and the French -- God bless them and others -- they don't have the assets. They are running out of some of their munitions. And we need to get back in the fight," McCain declared, warning "a very bad outcome" would be a stalemate that would "open the door to al-Qaida."

McCain, who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama, said the United States should "recognize the transitional national council" in Libya and "kick Gadhafi off television."

Addressing the recent violence in Syria, McCain said he doesn't see a military option there because the opposition isn't nearly as organized as it is in Libya.

Saying it is clear Syrian President Bashar Assad is "willing to slaughter his own people," McCain endorsed increased sanctions and "whatever pressures we can bring to bear."

"It's going to be a very bloody time there, I'm afraid, in Syria," he said.

"There's no country like America. We should be leading. We should not be following. We should not be behind. … This Arab spring is not confined even to the Arab countries, but how we handle it will determine the entire 21st century," he said.

McCain also weighed in on the president's push to eliminate subsidies for oil and gas companies, saying he had an open mind to find solutions to the energy crisis but he "would not want to do anything that would be a disincentive for further oil exploration and exploitation."

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