Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) “called on President Barack Obama Friday to hasten the fall of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya by stepping up airstrikes and offering additional assistance to rebels battling forces loyal to the Libyan leader,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“As President Obama has rightly and repeatedly insisted, a successful outcome in Libya requires the departure of Gadhafi as quickly as possible,” the pair wrote in a Friday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. “It is not in our interest for Libya to become the scene of a protracted stalemate that will destabilize and inflame the region.”
Regime change isn’t a goal of the military operation, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates reminded lawmakers Thursday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Libya. “Deposing the Gaddafi regime, as welcome as that eventuality would be, is not part of the military mission,” he said. That, he said, “will likely be achieved over time through political and economic measures and by his own people.”
The bipartisan duo wrote on Friday that “while we understand the diplomatic reasons behind the Obama administration’s reluctance to make Gadhafi’s removal an explicit goal of the coalition military mission, the reality on the ground is that our coalition’s air strikes against his forces must work toward this objective.”
They asked the president to deliver “a more robust and coherent package of aid to the rebel ground forces,” as well as humanitarian assistance to civilians. They would also like to see the administration help restore phone and Internet service for the Libyan people and recognize the Transitional National Council as the official government to succeed Mr. Gadhafi, if he’s toppled.
They “stop short of calling for U.S. troops on the ground – a key plank of the president’s decision to participate in the NATO-led airstrikes there.”