President Obama did not act swiftly enough against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and the U.S. should take the lead in military operations against his forces, a top GOP senator said Sunday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said that allied forces — led by the U.S. — should expand the scope of its military mission to remove Gadhafi from power.
Graham's comments came after strikes on Libya started Saturday. American officials have said they are looking to play a support role while European and Arab nations take the lead in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and protecting its civilians against Gadhafi's forces.
Appearing on several Sunday talk shows, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said that the U.S. role will be limited to a support role and that the military will not act to directly take down Gadhafi.
Another member of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), agreed with those aims, saying it's important to show to the Arab world that the international community is against Gadhafi, not just the U.S. He also called on Obama to formally notify Congress of the mission, as is required under the War Powers Act.
But the South Carolina senator said that U.S. military forces are more capable than any other in the world and that the Obama administration should put them to greater use, or pay the price.
"The Obama administration owns Gadhafi in this situation," he said. "We have been overly cautious and [too] indecisive."
Graham said that the U.S. should isolate Gadhafi's regime, knock off state media outlets and stop paying it oil
"I think he should be branded for what he is ... I think he is an international criminal," Graham said of Gadhafi. "If we do not get rid of him, we will pay a heavy price down the road."