A statement from Senator John McCain:

“I welcome the President’s strong defense of our military action in Libya, and I appreciate that he explained why this intervention was both right and necessary in light of the unprecedented democratic awakening now sweeping the broader Middle East.

“Had we not acted in Libya, Benghazi would have become a scene of mass slaughter and a source of international shame. Libyan refugees would now be streaming into Egypt and Tunisia, destabilizing those critical countries during their already daunting political transitions. If we had allowed Qaddafi to slaughter Arabs and Muslims in Benghazi who were pleading for our rescue, America’s moral standing in the Middle East would have been devastated. The ideology of Al-Qaeda would have grown more appealing in Libya, not less, as violent radicals exploited the resulting chaos and hopelessness. The forces of counterrevolution across the region would have gotten the message that the world would tolerate the violent oppression of peaceful demonstrations for universal rights. This would have been a dramatic setback for the ‘Arab Spring,’ which represents the most consequential geopolitical opportunity in decades.

“I welcome the President’s clarity that the U.S. goal is for Qaddafi to leave power. But an equal amount of clarity is still required on how we will accomplish that goal. U.S. and coalition airpower has decisively reversed Qaddafi’s momentum, but the potential for a long and bloody stalemate is still far too high. That is not in America’s interest. As long as Qaddafi remains in power, he will increasingly pose a threat to the world, and civilians in Libya will not be fully secure. The United States and our allies must continue to take ‘all necessary measures’ to compel Qaddafi to leave power, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1973. That means providing material support to opposition forces in Libya while continuing to target Qaddafi’s forces in the field. We are not neutral in the outcome of the fighting in Libya. We have chosen a side against Qaddafi, and now we must help the opposition succeed.

“The mission in Libya is going well, but we have not yet accomplished our goal. I am thankful for our many friends and allies, especially our Arab partners, that are contributing to the mission. However, that is not a substitute for U.S. leadership. If our goal in Libya is worth fighting for, and I believe it is, then the United States must remain strongly engaged to force Qaddafi to leave power.”

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