3 senators call on Obama to step up support for Libyan rebels


A trio of U.S. senators redoubled calls Sunday for the Obama administration to step up U.S. support for Libyan rebels in their battle against the regime of Moammar Kadafi, even targeting Kadafi directly if necessary.

“I think the focus should now be to cut the head of the snake off. That’s the quickest way to end this,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Let’s get this guy gone.”

Graham was joined by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who just completed a visit to Libya, and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in urging the U.S. to resume a leadership role in the air campaign against Kadafi’s forces.


Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats on Capitol Hill, also called on the U.S. to step up support for the popular uprising in Syria, which has met with increasingly violent reaction from the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“This is a moment of extraordinary opportunity for the cause of freedom in Syria, and it has tremendous strategic significance for the region,” Lieberman said, noting Syria’s close ties with Iran. Lieberman called on the U.S. to freeze Assad’s wealth and go to the United Nations to place an arms embargo on the regime.

Even while applauding the Obama administration for deploying drones in Libya, the three lawmakers, who often work together, criticized the White House for removing other U.S. attack aircraft from front line roles in the support of rebel forces.

“You can’t get into a fight with one foot,” Lieberman said.

Several Democratic lawmakers urged a more cautious approach Sunday, emphasizing the need to continue to work with other countries.

“We should encourage the democratic movement in Syria, but at the same time avoid anything like an open-ended commitment,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Appearing on the same program, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) urged patience in Libya as well.

“We need to give it a little bit of time. I think the squeeze play that we are applying, more and more pressure on Kadafi with military action, with an embargo, will eventually succeed.”