McCain: Obama waited too long in Libya
March 20th, 2011
09:00 AM ET
11 years ago

McCain: Obama waited too long in Libya

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.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Joe Lieberman • John McCain • Libya • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Seattle Sue

    McCain is a senile old man who would have had us in more wars these past two years if he had become President. McCain is a bitter loser, war monger who will never be happy with anything President Obama does

    March 20, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    McCain is a fool. This puts us into yet another mideast war, we cannot win. You cannot defeat religious fanaticism. It will live on, no matter how many you kill.

    Obama has made a huge mistake, that will destroy the country, economically.

    March 20, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. Marie MD

    No, you old moron who gave us the she devil from AK. The President didn't wait too long. The President did what was right. He waited until the UN and other nations took action instead of going in like a fool shooting first and asking questions later. Yes, it is what it is, you are NOT in control. of our country. Thank goodness!!!
    If you were president (barf!) we would be fighting wars all over the world. Just STFU and retire to one of your hundreds of home around the country. That is if you can still remember where they all are.

    March 20, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    Still this small, bitter. little man speaks his spittle.

    Gates said a no fly zone would lead to a third war, and I will take his word over senile, befuddled McCrypt this and any day.

    March 20, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Why is it that so many of our so-called leaders just can't stomach the notion that America (at least in part) must keep its hands out of other nations' business? A government can effect so much change without shooting its mouth off publicly and dropping bombs (McCain's personal favorite policy) and trying to control and dictate events. Kudos to Obama for resisting such a losing policy. You cannot impose democracy at the point of a gun. PERIOD. unfortunately, there is too much profit in gunplay.

    March 20, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. vic nashville tn

    Time for Senator John Mc Cain to retire

    We understand that Gadhafi killing his own citizens there is urgency to stop that but its happening in Bahrain, Yemen so it’s a difficult process
    So far President and Secretary of state handling the problem very good UN sanction is very important Arab league is joining to take action against Gadhafi more good news

    March 20, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  7. Brian

    It's quite sad to see when people completely opposed to the President, they have to slander or make a joke about his name. Besides being childish and sounding like a school bully, it clearly shows a lack of respect for the office. So if you want to read between the lines, it's covert racism. I just wish those people would stop hiding that fact and just come out and admit it.

    March 20, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. Jack

    President Obama did not take action until the United Nations, Arab League and the International Community approved (based on truthful information this time). McCain needs to check into one of the many memory enhancement units in Arizona.

    March 20, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. stevetall

    You're still clueless, John. I guess you win the "Who Can Be the First to Be a Jerk" contest, but I'm not surprized, considering all the things you DIDN'T learn as a warrior and captured POW. Some guys are so thick in the head, but thin in the skin.

    March 20, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. FM

    This man likes very much; bomb, bomb, bomb! Sen. McCain if you could rushed quickly in bombing Libya, can you tell us what could have been your next step and who would you put in power! All these need a thoughtful thinking Sen. McCain, thats it has taken time to make a decision.

    March 20, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  11. Indy

    Are McCain and Lieberman married ? They spend more time together then most married couples. McCain has a long history of making the wrong moves when it comes to military actions including his several plane crashes and being a POW from his own mistakes. History will tell us in the years to come that Obama made one of the most respected decisions to work with NATO and the UN and this was done with as a team effort and one of the smartest well though strategies ever made by and administration. Lieberman (Alf's voice) and the one who brought Sarah Palin to show her hate of America should STFU.
    Once again Obama has done a great job and continues to earn respect of the entire world by not being a Republican Nazi that will invade any country it feels like invading.

    March 20, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Precisely. The right action way too late. 2 weeks ago Gadhafi was on the ropes with rebels everywhere. This force applied then would have had greater leverage. Now he's on the rebound, retaking city after city from rebel control. Obama has consistently been too slow to take action.

    March 20, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. EddyL

    Gee. Criticism from the old fart. What took him so long?

    March 20, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. lynn

    All McCain did in Viet Nam was lose a million dollar plane and sit in Hanoi Hilton, same as thousands of others. That makes him an authority on fighting a dictator, why? He hasn't aged gracefully, is a sad commentary of someone who thinks he still has it going, but lost it long ago.

    March 20, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. ED FL

    Why is CNN paying so much attention to Mccain and Palin. Dumb and Dumber cant put their shoes out without Complete instructions. Mccain has failed at every aspect of being a military person not to mention incompetent Midshipman, Pilot and every aspect that he had an opportunity exhibit skill and professional accomplishments. He now continues to be a failure as a politician which again does not have a very high standard of skill . He specializes in BLABBER and he even met his match on that when Palin took over for him.Arizona deserves him and he fits right in with all the other LOONEY TUNES there.

    March 20, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. Rae

    McCain, thank you for your thoughts, although personally I found out over two years ago that I (and the majority of this country) simply do not agree with you. You and especially your former running mate prove to us everytime you open your mouth that we made the right decision.

    We had a President whose policy was to shoot first and ask questions later. Now we have a President who thinks, considers, builds coalitions, has a precise strategy of when we start, where we end and what that looks like. It's called thoughtful planning, it's called strategy. That is why he won and you lost, thank the lord!

    March 20, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. ramtruck2500

    Yet another republican smoke screen and NO JOBS YET!!!

    March 20, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  18. Philly P

    After Libya it will be time to ask Senator John Mc Cain to step down. This was the last thing in the world that the coalition along with the United States wanted to do. But McCain thinks that it should have been the 1st choice. He's respected for what he has done for our country, but his way of thinking is just outdated. All great men must know when to call it a career....Senator its time to make that call!

    March 20, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. Aaron

    I think Ghadafi has been in the game too long, and Obama hasn't been in the game long enough...thats a big part of the problem......

    March 20, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. Sue

    Obama did the right thing.....I want a President that will think things out before committing us to war......surprising thing is that Repbulicans that are wanting to cut the budget are all for War.....this man McCain belong in a nursing home

    March 20, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Roscoe

    Why can't McCain do something on his own instead of sitting back. He might start with the problems Mexico is causing Arizona. He's supposed to represent AZ. He can't do anything there. First, he's for amnesty.....then he's for the fence.

    March 20, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  22. BLKMAN

    Right.....................why don't you go and retire somewhere. You lost the election so who cares really what he thinks and better why would anyone listen to him?

    March 20, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |

    Shut up McCain. All you republicans can do is complain and try to block any achievements President Obama tries to accomplish FOR THE GOOD OF All THE PEOPLE OF THE USA! Better get used to him in office. He's going to be re-elected for another 4 years. Get over it!

    March 20, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. Jack

    Can we please have a republican go on TV without critizing the moves of the government and the president. Are republicans with America or against America. It looks to the world we can't even solve or get along so why should we give advice to anyone.

    March 20, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  25. Dennis F

    I was a McCain supporter till very close to the Presidential election of 2008.

    Since shortly after his selection of Pa(y)lin as his running-mate I have wondered about his judgement. In the two and a half years since then, almost every time he opens his mouth I am convinced that I voted for the right man for President in 2008. Yes I voted for a black man, but not the black man you think.

    In 2008, I wrote in the name 'Colin Powell' as my choice for President of the United States.

    March 20, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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