Washington (CNN) - Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona was critical of the president’s timetable for action in Libya, but said he is confident the American military will succeed.
“He (President Obama) waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it. But now, it is what it is,” McCain said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” taped Friday. “We need now to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that it didn’t – we didn’t act much more quickly, and we could have.”
The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said if the United States had acted a couple weeks ago, before the United Nations issued a cease-fire, a no-fly zone “would probably have been enough” to prevent the situation in the African country from deteriorating.
However, since the United Nations vote, McCain added “time is not on Gadhafi’s side.”
“If he (Gadhafi) doesn’t succeed in a relatively short period of time, he’ll be driven back and, over time, I believe, defeated,” McCain said. “I have great confidence in our capabilities that the most mightiest nation in the world is now matched up against a third-rate or fourth-rate power.”
American, French and British military forces launched an operation on Gadhafi’s military Saturday, convinced the Libyan leader was not adhering to the U.N.-mandated cease-fire. The attacks on Libyan military positions with missiles and airstrikes are part of an operation that will include enforcement of a no-fly zone.
Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said “we can’t afford to let him (Gadhafi) stay in office.”
“If Gadhafi survives, the Arab spring maybe comes to too soon an end, at least it doesn’t move beyond Tunisian and Egypt,” Lieberman told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “It’s late, but it’s not too late, if we act quickly together.”
“Now, how quickly we can move back and get him (Gadhafi) out? I think it’s going to be a matter of time,” McCain said.
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