McCain’s comments come after a wave of legislators from both sides of the aisle criticized Obama for pursuing war without the consent of Congress. The Constitution reserves the right to declare war for Congress.

McCain named President Reagan’s decision to attack Grenada and President Clinton’s attack on the Balkans as precedents that justified Obama’s decision to attack forces controlled by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi without seeking congressional approval.

But McCain said Obama should not hide behind the veil of neutrality in describing this military mission. 

“Ultimately we need to me be straight with the American people and ourselves,” McCain said. “We are not neutral in the conflict in Libya. We want the Libyan people to succeed. We want Gadhafi to leave power. This is a just cause.”

In an address to the nation on Monday night Obama did not portray the campaign as a war against Gadhafi’s forces so much as a humanitarian mission to protect the Libyan people.

"The United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners,” Obama said to the nation. 

McCain said he was glad Obama acted when he did because had the U.S. waited much longer, “there would have been nothing else to save."