CNN's Candy Crowley spoke to Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman about the situation in Libya and whether the United States should get more involved in supporting the uprising there. Of course they think we should be imposing a no-fly zone and providing arms to the protesters so they can defend themselves.
So as usual they want the Unites States injecting themselves militarily into another Middle Eastern country and potentially into the middle of another country's civil war. What could possibly go wrong?
And McCain had lots of tough talk about war crimes tribunals for the mercenaries brought in by Muammar Gaddafi. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about what we did to the Iraqis.
Transcript via CNN.
CROWLEY: Senators, thank you both for joining us after what has been a particularly busy week for you I know. Let me start some place that I know you haven't been but which is in the headlines now and that's Libya. The U.S. and the U.N. have frozen Libyan assets. They have imposed an arms embargo. They have banned travel for Gadhafi and some of his top aids. They have referred what Gadhafi has done to his own people, which is turn his army on them, has been referred to a criminal court and yet there is no change in behavior.
Senator Lieberman first to you, is there anything that you believe could change the behavior of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi?
LIEBERMAN: Well, this is a real moment of choice for the international community. Believe me, what we are hearing is the Arab world is watching. Will the future be the peaceful democratic revolution that's occurred in Egypt leading to democracy or will the world stand by and allow a leader like Gadhafi to slaughter his people? I'm glad there are sanctions being applied and some pressure morally at least and some economic put on Gadhafi, but honestly I think the world has to do more.
I begin with the imposition of a no-fly zone so that Gadhafi can't be attacking his own people from the air or flying in more mercenaries. I think we ought to recognize the opposition provisional government as the legitimate government of Libya and we that ought to give that government certainly humanitarian assistance and military arms, not to go in on the ground ourselves but to give them the wherewithal to fight on behalf of the people of Libya against a really cruel dictator.
CROWLEY: And Senator McCain, Senator Lieberman brings me to my next question which is, is there a military option, Senator McCain, as far as you're concerned in Libya for the U.S. or for NATO or the U.N.? Is there a military option other than to try to enforce a no-fly zone?
MCCAIN: Well, I think there possibly could be. But look a no- fly zone, Libyan pilots aren't going to fly if there is a no-fly zone and we could get air assets there to ensure it. Recognize some provisional government that they are trying to set already up in the eastern part of Libya, help them with material assistance, make sure that every one of the mercenaries know that any acts they commit they will find themselves in front a war crimes tribunal. Get tough.
And I understand that America's security and safety of American citizens is our highest priority. It is not our only priority.
CROWLEY: You sound slightly critical, if I'm reading between the lines, of the Obama administration kind of holding back on its criticism of Libya, administration officials tell us because they were worried that Americans in Libya would be taken hostage or worse.
MCCAIN: Well, the British prime minister and the French president and others were not hesitant and they have citizens in that country.
America leads. America is -- here we've been to these countries and every place we go they are looking to America for leadership, for assistance, for moral support and ratification of the sacrifices they have made in defense of democracy. America should lead.
The president should reverse the terrible decision he made in 2009 to not support the demonstrators in Tehran. Stand up for democracy in Iran and tell those people that we are with them. And that should be true not only throughout the Arab countries but as far as china and other parts of the world as well.
CROWLEY: Senator Lieberman, the president has said it's time for Gadhafi to go, that he's turned weaponry on his own people and no one could lead like that and he should leave. It seems to me that you all are going a step further. So to you senator, first of all do you agree that the president has been too slow to criticize Moammar Gadhafi? And it seems to me that you were suggesting that we should send weapons to rebel forces.
LIEBERMAN: I understand why the administration hesitated at the beginning because of the concern about American personnel at the embassy but frankly, I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Gadhafi regime. And we have lines of communication certainly through the foreign ministry and we could have told them at the same time we were condemning Colonel Gadhafi's brutality that if he laid a finger on any American who was there he would pay for it and pay for it dearly.
The fact is now is the time for action, not just statements. The sanctions that were adopted but unilaterally by the United States and now by the U.S. really have some effect on the people in the top positions in the Libyan government and hopefully it will lead them to think twice. But the kinds of tangible support, no-fly zone, recognition of the revolutionary government, the citizens government and support for them with both humanitarian assistance and I would provide them with arms.
This takes me back to the '90s in the Balkans when we intervened to stop a genocide against Bosnians. And the first we did was to provide them the arms to defend themselves. That's what I think we ought to do in Libya.
I hope that the opposition forces may end all of this by going into Libya and taking it over and ending the Gadhafi regime. But if they don't, we should help them. MCCAIN: Candy, I think his days are numbered. The question is how many people are going to massacred between now and when he leaves? We ought to shorten that time frame as much as possible. I believe we can.
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