Senator John McCain (R-AZ) “on Monday called for the Obama administration to ‘immediately’ establish a no-fly zone over Libya to aid rebel forces, saying unrest there is a ‘test’ for Washington’s promotion of democracy in the Middle East,” The Hill reports.
“It is long past time for the president to answer … calls for international leadership,” McCain said in comments on the Senate floor. He noted the Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council, France and the U.K. have endorsed seizing control of Libyan skies.
“A no-fly zone was never going to be the decisive action that tipped the balance against [Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi], even when Senator Lieberman and I called for it nearly three weeks ago,” McCain said. “But it remains the case that a no-fly zone would take one of Gadhafi’s most lethal tools off the table, and thereby boost the confidence of Libya’s opposition.”
“It is Libyans themselves who want to do the fighting against Gadhafi, but they want it to be a fair fight,” McCain said. “So should we.”
His remarks came as “he and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a resolution that would, if approved by the chamber, place the Senate in favor of a U.S.-led no-fly zone mission.”
Administration and Pentagon officials “have said a no-fly zone would be operationally complicated and expensive.”
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defense-focused think tank, last week estimated the mission could cost up to $300 million a week — or around $15 billion.
McCain is Ranking Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.