McCain: It Would Have Been 'Fine' if NATO Bombing Killed Gadhafi

In interview with CBS' 'Face the Nation,' Republican Senator says Washington should have a strategy to aid Libya's rebels in their overthrow of Gadhafi.

Reuters
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U.S. Republican Senator John McCain on Sunday said it would be "fine" if NATO air strikes killed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi while targeting his command centers.

His comments came after the Libyan government said Gadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in an air strike, while the Libyan leader was unharmed.

Sen. John McCain talking with journalists at the Tebisty Hotel in Benghazi, Libya, April 22, 2011. Credit: AP

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

"But we ought to have a strategy to help the rebels succeed and overthrow Gadhafi and everybody associated with him."

McCain, who visited the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi last month, said he was not satisfied with President Barack Obama's handling of Libya because "we have taken a backseat role."

The United States should contribute more air power to the NATO operation, said McCain, the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

"We need to get back in the fight," he said. "A very bad outcome here would be a stalemate which would then open the door to al Qaida," he said.

The Obama administration has called on Gaddafi to step down and the Libyan leader has shown no inclination to do that.

"It's events on the ground that will drive Gadhafi's desire to leave or not to leave. Right now, in many respects, he's not doing too badly for a third-rate military power," McCain said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Gadhafi was a "legitimate military target" because he was acting outside of international law and attacking civilians.

"He's the command and control source. He's not the legitimate leader of Libya. And the way to get this to end is to go after the people around him and his support network," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday."

"He's the source of the problem. He is not the legitimate leader of Libya. He should be brought to justice or killed," Graham said.

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