Sen. Lindsey Graham
, R-S.C., says the United States and its allies should impose a no-fly zone above the Libyan skies and aggressive action is justified if it would deter despot Moammar Gadhafi from the continued massacre of his own people.
“Well it's no easy decision but I would go with a no-fly zone, internationally sanctioned,” Graham Wednesday told CNN’s John King, adding that he listens when Defense Secretary Robert Gates says to proceed with caution.
“But I can't imagine our country at this point in time – with this revolution spreading through the Mideast – allowing Gadhafi to use his air assets against his people. That would be untenable from an American perspective, and I think hopefully an international perspective,” Graham said. “So it's a tough, tough decision for the president, but I think history would judge him well if we denied the ability of Moammar Gadhafi to use air power to kill his own people.”
King noted Gates’ reluctance to impose the no-fly zone was partly based that doing so might endanger U.S. pilots in their attempt to knock out Libya’s anti-aircraft capability.
“Well, I'm a military lawyer, not a military commander and I would put a lot of faith into what Bob Gates and our military says,” Graham said. “But here's the risk we face: If we do not stop this madman who is delusional from killing his own people with modern aircraft that we could neutralize, I think it is not in our long-term, national-security interest, so whatever risk we run of neutralizing their air capability, I think is smaller than the risk of sitting on the sidelines and watching this dictator thug kill his own people.
King said if allied forces attacked Libya, there also is a danger that Gadhafi might use chemical weapons – which he had previously agreed to destroy later this year – against his own people, and there is the added safety threat in taking out the facilities.
“Well, I'll leave that up to people who would know how to neutralize that threat better than I,” Graham said. “You have to assume the worst – but the worst-case scenario for me is for the international community to sit on the sidelines and allow this man to use air power against his own people and prolong this.
“You're into a standoff now, where he has control of Tripoli to some extent and the idea that American air power internationally sanctioned – if I'm a Libyan pilot – it would really be a test of how much I like Gadhafi, because trust me, there is no Libyan air asset that can stand up to our Air Force or our Navy,” he said.
“We spend a lot of money to defend our nation and we've got a lot of capability,” Graham continued. “So Libyan pilots should be more worried than anybody, and I hope the president will announce sooner rather than later that the Libyan Air Force and air assets will be destroyed if they're used against the Libyan people.”
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