(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reiterated his call for a U.S.-backed no-fly zone over Libya on Sunday and called the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, "insane."
"We can't risk allowing Gadhafi to massacre people from the air, both by helicopter and fixed-wing [aircraft]," McCain told ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently noted that imposing a no-fly zone over a country as large as Libya would be a significant endeavor.
"If it's ordered, we can do it. But the reality is there's a lot of, frankly, loose talk about some of these military options," the secretary said on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. "And let's just call a spade a spade: a no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone."
McCain noted that, "these air assets that Gadhafi has are not overwhelming."
“We are on the side of the rebels,” McCain said. “We have called for Gadhafi's removal…I want to emphasize: ground intervention would not be appropriate – certainly not at this time.”
"A ground intervention by the part of the United States could be very counterproductive," he said. "But we can assist in a lot of ways: humanitarian, intelligence, providing them with some training and other things we can do as they form up a provisional government in Benghazi."
So how can the U.S. push Gadhafi to leave?
"I hope that Gadhafi understands the inevitability of --" McCain began to say.
"But he hasn't shown much indication to us," Amanpour interjected.
"Oh, I agree with you," McCain said. "He's insane. But perhaps the people around him would begin to depart the sinking ship."
"Again," he added, "by a no-fly zone, by declaring our support for a provisional government, perhaps, which is being formed up now – there is a lot of steps we can take."
McCain, who is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently returned from a trip around the Middle East where he met with government leaders in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
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