McCain: Libya's Uncertain Future Unsettling

Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011 03:01 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Sen. John McCain said Monday Libya’s future is worrisome, not only from a military perspective but because after four decades of autocracy under despot Moammar Gadhafi it will be hard for the country to move to more democratic governance.
“I think we should be worried about a lot of things, but the fact is, Wolf, that you saw the rapid collapse of the Gadhafi forces — the only thing that was holding him in power was money and fear; and once those are dissipated by military strength, then it’s very difficult for anyone to be loyal to Gadhafi, unless they are a blood relative,” the Arizona Republican told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“I worry about that, I worry about the different tribes, I worry about . . . weapons of mass destruction, I worry about the prisons — I hope we can secure them soon, because there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of political prisoners,” McCain said. “I hope that we won’t see a repeat of what happened in Baghdad: looting of public buildings. I appreciate the National Transition Council’s message on reconciliation and national unity — there’s a lot of bad blood there — and let’s hope that the people will restrain themselves and recognize that a bloodbath is not in anyone’s interest.”

Blitzer asked McCain how much credit President Barack Obama should get for changes in Libya. McCain gave the president qualified praise and repeated the assertion he and Sen. Lindsey Graham made Sunday that had the Obama administration not pulled back at the beginning of the conflict, Gadhafi’s reign of terror would have ended sooner.

“Well, I think the president deserves credit for stopping Gadhafi when he was at the gates of Benghazi and had vowed to go house to house to kill anyone when opposed him,” McCain said. “But the fact is, if we had used the full weight of American air power, it would have been gone — over — a long time ago, and the fact is that young Libyans were wounded and were killed because of  ‘leading from behind.’

“I am pleased at the outcome — I’m sure the president will take a lot of credit for it, but the facts on the ground are that it could have been over a lot earlier than it was,” he said. “And now let’s move forward — try to work together, Republicans and Democrats  without spending federal dollars, because it’s not money that they need, in working to help Libya make this transition to democracy and a beacon of freedom.”

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