Pro-defense U.S. senators Sunday said the United States should raise military pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to leave, and one said NATO should end the crisis quickly with an attack aimed at Gaddafi and his inner circle in Tripoli.
Voicing concern about the violence in Iranian ally Syria, lawmakers urged the White House to show more support for protesters trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman went further with a call for arms embargo on Syria and sanctions on Assad and his family.
Senator Lindsey Graham on CNN's "State of the Union," said the Libyan rebels did not have enough momentum or training to end the stalemate with Gaddafi and urged an air campaign directed at Gaddafi and his inner circle.
"My recommendation to NATO and the administration is to cut the head of the snake off, go to Tripoli, start bombing Gaddafi's inner circle, their compounds, their military headquarters in Tripoli," Graham said.
Republican Senator John McCain, who was in the Libyan rebel stronghold Benghazi last week to show support for the rebels, said Gaddafi should be "aware that his life is in danger." But he said previous attempts to target dictators militarily have shown "it's a little harder than you think."
Lieberman said it was "very important that Gaddafi and his family and everyone else near him wakes up every day thinking that it is their last" to avoid a "very costly and destructive stalemate."
But Lieberman stopped short of advocating making a military goal of killing Gaddafi. "NATO has got to start thinking about whether they want to more directly target Gaddafi and his family. That's the surest way of ending the violence against the civilians of Libya," he said.
MORE PRESSURE ON ASSAD
Lieberman also said the United States was "not doing anywhere enough to support the freedom fighters in Syria and to oppose Assad."
He said Washington should "get tough with Assad and his family," applying sanctions to "tie up the family's wealth" and pushing for a U.N. arms embargo "so they can't get any more arms to turn on their own people."
At least 100 people were killed in Syria on Friday, the highest toll in five weeks of unrest, when security forces shot protesters demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption in their country, ruled for 41 years by the Assad dynasty.
Lieberman called it "a moment of extraordinary opportunity for the cause of freedom in Syria and it has tremendous strategic significance for the region. Because, remember Syria is the only Arab ally that Iran has. It helps Iran in so much evil that it does."
McCain, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," said "Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy, just as, by the way, has Assad in Syria."
McCain has called for NATO to step up air strikes against Gaddafi's military and for the United States to take a leadership role in the international effort to oust Gaddafi, not the support role that President Barack Obama has opted for. But McCain did praise Obama's decision to use unmanned Predator drones against Gaddafi's forces.
Graham said if Gaddafi remained in power it would be "a nightmare for the world at large. You think gas prices now are high and unstable? Let him survive and see what the Mideast turns into. The people who have taken to the streets in Egypt and Tunisia and Syria, what kind of message would you be sending to the Iranians if Gaddafi stays?" (Writing by Vicki Allen; Additional reporting by Deborah Charles and Paul Eckert; Editing by Jackie Frank)
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