John McCain: Hillary Clinton is an 'international star' (video)

Sen. John McCain (R) is sharply critical of the multilateral approach that the Obama administration has taken on Libya. But at a Monitor breakfast on Wednesday, he praised Hillary Clinton.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, speaks to reporters at a Monitor breakfast in Washington on Wednesday.

Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, calls Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton an “international star” but sharply criticizes the Obama administration’s policy on Libya.

At a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday, Senator McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate for president, was asked to rate President Obama’s national security team. “I think the international star is Secretary Clinton,” McCain said. “She has done a really tremendous job.”

But the Arizona senator was sharply critical of how the Obama administration has responded to the uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. “The president continues to rely on multinational efforts. I am all for multinational efforts; I am all for getting coalitions together,” McCain said. “But the United States still has to lead. And if the United States doesn’t lead, then nobody leads.”

The current administration policy “emphasizes the fact that NATO is NATO, but the United States of America is NATO," McCain said. "We are the ones with the assets, we are the ones with the military capabilities, we are the one that should be leading.”

While stating his support for coalition building, McCain added, “But if the occasion requires it, because of the exigencies of the battlefield, the United States may have to act alone. Again, I assert that if we had called and declared a no-fly zone early on, three or four weeks ago, Qaddafi would not be in power today. So now the Libyan people are paying a very heavy price in blood because of our failure to act because of this overwhelming priority of having to act multilaterally or multinationally.”

Abdel-Fattah Younis, chief of staff for the rebel military and Mr. Qaddafi's former interior minister, said Tuesday that NATO is falling short in its mission to protect Libyan civilians, and he wants the rebels to take their grievances to the United Nations, according to CBS News.

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