Sen. John McCain continued to press President Barack Obama for a more forceful strategy to remove Muammar Qaddafi from power in Libya, saying that the U.S. should be willing to use "any means" necessary to accomplish that goal and comparing the current strategy of limited air power combined with diplomatic pressure to the post-Gulf War strategy in Iraq that kept Saddam Hussein in power.
Mr. Obama, saying that he authorized the use of missile and airstrikes in an international military action to protect civilians from a "massacre." However, while the U.S. policy calls for the departure of Qaddafi from power, the president said the U.S. would not be willing to pursue deeper military involvement, such as sending in ground troops, to make that happen. Instead, the U.S. would support the continued coalition-led no-fly zone in addition to economic sanctions and other diplomatic tools to increase pressure on Qaddafi.
"There are non-military means at our disposal to pursue that goal and we'll use [them]," United Nations ambassador Susan Rice explained on "The Early Show" Tuesday. "We are using sanctions. We've imposed an arms embargo. We are cutting off all of Qaddafi's sources and funds to his regime, cutting off the flow of mercenaries. We are providing assistance and will continue to provide assistance to the opposition. We are working in London on a political solution. All of these are important elements."
But McCain, also appearing on "The Early Show," said that strategy wouldn't work in the short term.
"If Qaddafi remains in power, you will see a stalemate along the lines ... [of] Saddam Hussein when we established a no-fly zone, sanctions, etc., and it lasted for 10 years. We've seen that movie before. ... Now, he may be taken down by his own people in the meantime. But we have to continue all the way to Tripoli, helping the anti-Qaddafi forces and bring him down as soon as possible."
The no-fly zone in Iraq was established after the first Gulf War in 1991, restricting Iraqi flights in the northern and southern regions of the country. It was in place until the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
For his part, Mr. Obama also invoked Iraq, instead using the 2003 invasion and ongoing military presence as a cautionary example of using ground forces to force regime change, citing the loss of American lives and the heavy financial burden.
"To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq," Mr. Obama said. "That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya."
But McCain, R-Ariz., insisted that "Qaddafi in power is unacceptable, according to the president's own words, so we should use any means to bring him down. And we could do that without, I think, too much difficulty. Nobody wants to die for Qaddafi."
McCain also said he would support a deal that would see Qaddafi, as has been reportedly pushed by Italy and Germany.
"I think it's a possibility and I would not reject it. The object is to get him out of power and get the Libyan people under a regime that they have a chance for freedom and democracy ... With Qaddafi in power, that's impossible.
"I'd love to see him held accountable, but the object is to get him out."