The Blog

McCain and Lieberman on Libya: 'We Remain Deeply Concerned'

4:05 PM, Mar 4, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have just issued a joint statement on Libya. "We strongly support President Obama's declaration yesterday that Colonel Qaddafi must go," the senators say. "The President is correct that Qaddafi and those loyal to him – unleashing horrific violence against the Libyan people – have lost the legitimacy to remain in power, and we agree that the United States must consider the full range of options to stop the bloodshed taking place in Libya now."

But McCain and Lieberman don't think we should stop here: "However, we remain deeply concerned about the situation in Libya. Despite the measures adopted by the international community, the Qaddafi regime still appears to be entrenched in Tripoli, and news reports indicate that Qaddafi's forces are carrying out a campaign of terror against Libyan civilians. We are also deeply concerned that Qaddafi's forces have launched offensives, including the use of airpower, against the opposition in the liberated areas of Libya."

McCain and Lieberman urge the Obama administration and our allies "to ensure that [Qaddafi] does go – as quickly as possible."

Here's the full statement: 

“We strongly support President Obama's declaration yesterday that Colonel Qaddafi must go. The President is correct that Qaddafi and those loyal to him – unleashing horrific violence against the Libyan people – have lost the legitimacy to remain in power, and we agree that the United States must consider the full range of options to stop the bloodshed taking place in Libya now.

“We also applaud the measures adopted by the United States and our partners so far to ratchet up the pressure on the Qaddafi regime, including the imposition of both unilateral and multilateral sanctions, the regime's eviction from the UN Human Rights Council, its suspension from the Arab League, and the referral of its case to the International Criminal Court.

“However, we remain deeply concerned about the situation in Libya. Despite the measures adopted by the international community, the Qaddafi regime still appears to be entrenched in Tripoli, and news reports indicate that Qaddafi's forces are carrying out a campaign of terror against Libyan civilians. We are also deeply concerned that Qaddafi's forces have launched offensives, including the use of airpower, against the opposition in the liberated areas of Libya.  

“It is stated U.S. policy that Qaddafi must go, so now it is critical for the United States, together with our friends and allies, to ensure that he does go – as quickly as possible. A protracted and bloody stalemate in Libya would not only be an unnecessary humanitarian disaster, with the potential to destabilize a critical region. It could also create space for al Qaeda and its extremist allies to exploit the chaos. We agree with Secretary Clinton about the danger that a prolonged Libyan civil war could result in another Somalia. Moreover, if Qaddafi is able to remain in power, it would send a dangerous message that dictators should respond with brutal violence to the peaceful protest movement for universal rights that is sweeping the region and beyond. 

“It would of course be strongly preferable for the Libyan people, entirely on their own, to evict Qaddafi from power. However, the United States and the international community must not stand by and let Qaddafi slaughter the Libyan people while what began as a peaceful uprising inspired by Tunisia and Egypt descends into a humanitarian and strategic calamity.

“There have been numerous ideas put forward by Qaddafi's opponents in recent days about how the world might help them survive and prevail – including imposition of a no-fly zone, recognition of a provisional government, the provisioning of humanitarian assistance, and various forms of security assistance. Which of these we pursue should be determined after urgent consultation with our international partners, including the Arab League, the African Union, and NATO, but most of all the Libyan opposition forces themselves – and based on the effectiveness, speed, and feasibility of implementation. But we should be prepared to support all of them if they hasten the end of bloodshed.

“The United States must not be passive at this critical moment in history. From Bosnia to Rwanda, we know that the international community has in the past been too slow to react to situations like the one unfolding in Libya – with awful and unspeakable costs in human life. For both moral and strategic reasons, we must not repeat this mistake.” 

Recent Blog Posts