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. ed h0715

    Yeah right , john , you would have done the same thing , . being republican , you would have only thought first about your oil company buddies before you did anything . so easy to be armchair quarterback , im sure if obama would have bombed a week earlier , you wouldnt have liked that either . why dont you dumb ass republicans come up with fresh and good ideas to govern instead of obama bashing , thats all ive heard since you morons won in november and nothing new to move this country forward . you all make me sick that im a registered republican . wheres abe lincoln when you need him .

    March 20, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Jim

    This type of stupidity is why most of the world did not like us when Bush finally left office. I wish we could have went in right after the Arab league gave their blessing. But getting the votes for an international coalition takes time. Frankly 1 week is break speed effort and having the Arab league involved and France start this campaign is genius. Take the military out now and the entire clan.

    March 20, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  3. tj

    We have seen enough 'shoot form the hip' bullying policies from the Republicans. Talk about death panels... In their criticism of Obama, they could use exactly the same words against Bush One's actions in Iraq. Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't in the minds of Republicans. Maybe "minds" is too strong a word.

    March 20, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. Marc

    The President did the right thing by not rushing in to Libya. The US is not going to fight the world. It was good the UN sanctioned this!McCain?Still a sore loser!

    March 20, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. right...

    This man is only slightly smarter than Palin.

    March 20, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Sherri

    Reading what McCain had to say in this article and what Palin had to say in the article last night, I am just so glad that Obama was elected President. I've never been more sure of that than now. Obama made the right decision about waiting until UN involvement. I am very proud of Obama as our President.

    March 20, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. 0nce upon a horse

    Conservatives like McCain and Palin seem to have little problem putting American lives at risk in a big hurry. At least we have a POTUS that just doesn't throw our troops anywhere there is a conflict in the world. How long can we be the world's policeman? Even though no boots will be on the ground in Libya, American lives are still at risk and I pray they all come back home safetly. To me what the POTUS is TRUE patriotism, not what the likes of McCain and Palin want.

    March 20, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Tom Tx

    Wow, what a surprise, "McCain at odds w/Obama!" This old fart's been at odds since they first started running, is that suppose to be a surprise? What I can't understand is how "patriotic" is it to go abroad and criticize our country (esp, our President) like Palin has? I remember a group called the Dixie Chics; they criticized Bush and lost their careers. Interesting. Sometimes we need to let other countries start these wars; don't we have enough on our plate?

    March 20, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. paul

    The Republicans are soooo thankful for the disasters in the world and the uprising in middle east. That way, all the jobs, jobs, jobs, hype (that we heard about before the last election) that they haven't delivered on will be forgotten. Since taking over the house, Mr. Boehner and company have not produced a single jobs bill. How many times can you fool the American public? I hope the last election was the LAST TIME!!!!!

    March 20, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Isaac

    He chose Palin as his running mate. Enough said.

    March 20, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. GI Joe

    McShame is at war with himself. First this, then that. But always derogatory toward anyone who beat him in an election.

    March 20, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. bennie

    Shut up you old coot! If he had attacked earlier you would complain about it. I will NEVER vote for a Republican.

    March 20, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Who Cares?

    If Warmonger McCain thinks you went too slow...then you did the right thing A better endorsement you couldn't get.

    March 20, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  14. John/kc

    McCain is the same guy that 4 months ago said we should pull the trigger in Iran. These people are spending our children's future on weapons and more and more wars. I just can't understand why we don't take care of our own country and leave some of this other folly to others.

    March 20, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Tam

    Considering his "judgement" and "wisdom" in approving the VP candidate his advisors chose for him and he took, no criticism from him of anyone else! We already know his "wisdom". Look what he unleashed upon us. And we can't get rid of her!

    March 20, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. Positive

    I am so thankful that McCain/Palin didn't win the election. Both of them seem to always advocate jumping into wars all over the globe without taking time to gather allies, consider consequences or try non-war strategies first.

    March 20, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Cambridge131

    It was not so long ago that the concept of "politics ends at the waters edge" was observed by everyone and now today, that no longer holds. It's time for any and all pols to stop trying to wage their own foreign policy and McCain knows this.

    He just has to accept that he is not president. It is sad.

    March 20, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. PR

    I hate to agree with McCain because most of what comes out of his mouth is a "old republican" opinion and he does think he is better than most anyone else...but this time I agree..We did wait too long to strike but that being said, we now ALL OF US have to support the president in this mission – the people of Libya have been under the rule of this crazy SOB too long. These people need freedom.

    March 20, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. lgny

    The Obama administration is the antithesis of "Cowboy Diplomacy". For Libya, they acted quietly to
    a. Get the UN Security Council to endorse the action.
    b. Get France and England to engage in the action.
    c. Get the Arab League to support the action.

    So, now we are moving ahead as part of an international response instead of charging ahead alone. This is the behavior of mature leaders.

    March 20, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Positive

    Anybody else just bored of and exhausted by the petty daily "GOP criticizes the President for....." ?

    March 20, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. chad

    The real question should be: "why are we getting involved?" It's terrible what Gadhafi is doing to his people, but it's a civil war! We're already fighting 2 wars. Why get into another that has nothing to do with us? Imperialism plain and simple.

    March 20, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. NameBo

    We did this right, you do not just rush into these things that is why mcCain is not the president.

    March 20, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. A True Centrist

    Where is the Dem outrage?

    For years, you bashed our former inept President for using military action against sovereign nations who did not attack us. Is our current inept President not doing the same thing? I mean the SAME, EXACT thing? Where's the outrage people?

    March 20, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Robert

    What do you expect. Our bumbler in chief is more concerned about basketball games. Thankfully his reign of terror will be over after the next election.

    March 20, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  25. Tony Rigatoni

    Have these miscreants ever agreed with anything Obama has done? Even when it promotes their agenda, which it always does, they have a complaint. Here's how it works: If he acted in the beginning, he would have been trying to pull up his poll numbers and score points with the middle. Since he waited, he's a coward and a hand wringer. No matter what the situation, they attack him. It doesn't matter that he's a middle of the road business candidate and mild Republican in policy. They did the same with Clinton, Carter and Johnson.

    March 20, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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