WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Senator John McCain on Sunday said it would be “fine” if NATO air strikes killed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi while targeting his command centers.
His comments came after the Libyan government said Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in an air strike, while the Libyan leader was unharmed.
“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 Gaddafi 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 Qaeda,” 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 Gaddafi’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 Gaddafi 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.
Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sandra Maler