The No-Fly Zone Delusion

The discussion of a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine has made me feel old.

Old enough to remember the No-Fly Zones in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.

Old enough to remember the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war.

Old enough to understand what No-Fly really means: Shooting down planes, which is an act of war.

Old to enough to understand why the Ukrainians want a No-Fly Zone. They want us to intervene in their war with Russia. I can’t blame them for trying.

Old enough to understand that NATO does not want war with a nuclear power led by a ruthless and paranoid dictator.

What I do not understand is this sort of delusional thinking:

There are NO clean and quick options. There are NO good options at all. A No-Fly Zone could lead to a nuclear exchange. How is that clean and quick?

Adam Kinzinger is right on Trump but deluded about the implications of a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine.

Kinzinger was only five years old when The Day After aired in 1983. It was the story of nuclear winter after a nuclear exchange between America and Russia. It had a powerful impact as nearly 100 million households viewed it. 33 years later, The Americans built an episode around it.

The Day After even affected US policy. Then President Reagan mentioned it more than once when he unsuccessfully attempted to ban nukes at the 1986 Reykjavík summit with Gorbachev.

I strongly support helping the Ukrainians in their conflict with Russia, but I am equally adamant in my opposition to a No-Fly Zone. Russia has nukes. Putin says he’ll use them. He may be lying but the stakes are too high to assume that.

There’s another reason for staying out of direct involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war. Tom Nichols nailed it in the Atlantic:

“… one more reason not to let our emotions get the better of us is that the only way Putin can save himself from his own fiasco is to bait the West into an attack. Nothing would help him more, at home or abroad, than if the United States or any other NATO country were to enter direct hostilities with Russian forces. Putin would then use the conflict to rally his people and threaten conventional and nuclear attacks against NATO. He would become a hero at home, and Ukraine would be forgotten.”

Nichols’ piece is entitled Stay Calm, America. I concur. I understand the urge to kick some Russki ass, but they have nukes, so caution is in order. President Biden understands this as do the leaders of the other NATO nations.

Along the same lines a self-quote from my post about the SOTU:

Those of us who support Ukraine in this conflict will have to harden our hearts. The Ukrainian government and emigrees will demand direct military intervention. But an American shooting war with Russia over Ukraine is out of the question given Putin’s evident instability. He seems quite capable of using nukes at this point.

The last word goes to Randy Newman with a 2017 song about Vlad the Terrible:

Satire is the best medicine.

One thought on “The No-Fly Zone Delusion

  1. It’s heartbreaking to feel such helplessness in this no-win situation. I wish an assassin had dispatched both Putin & Trump while they stood on that stage in Helsinki.

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