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A Syria “No-Fly Zone” Is Madness, So Naturally It Has Bipartisan Support

The calls for a "no-fly zone" in Syria should be flatly rejected.
syria plane rocket

The insane idea of establishing a “no-fly zone” in Syria is gaining more supporters in Congress:

A growing number of Democrats are joining GOP voices in calling for a no-fly zone or a safe zone [bold mine-DL] in Syria where civilians and opposition fighters can go without fear of attack — a step the Obama administration does not back.

There seems to be some confusion about what it is that these members of Congress want. Do they want a “no-fly zone” that prohibits Syrian and Russian aircraft from flying, or are they calling for a more ambitious policy of securing an area against all forms of attack? I suspect that some of the supporters aren’t quite sure what they mean when they call for one or the other, and they may think that the two are interchangeable. “No-fly zone” is a term that hawks sometimes use to refer to sustained air campaigns against a government’s ground forces, and sometimes they use it just to refer to a proper “no-fly zone.” A safe zone implies that there would be “coalition” forces that could protect a given area against regime attacks on the ground as well, and that would entail a more significant, complicated, and lasting military commitment from the U.S. and any other governments participating in this operation. Regardless of which one these members of Congress are endorsing, they are backing a risky policy that has only become more so because of Russian involvement.

It is remarkable that the Syria “no-fly zone” idea is gaining more support at the same time that it has become obvious that it is completely unworkable as long as Russian forces are operating over Syria:

“The Russian forces now in place make it very, very obvious that any kind of no-fly zone on the Libyan model imposed by the US and allies is now impossible, unless the coalition is actually willing to shoot down Russian aircraft [bold mine-DL],” says Justin Bronk, research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.

The fact that there has been such a surge of support for this crazy option in just the last few days suggests that the supporters of a “no-fly zone” in Syria haven’t thought their proposal through or considered the potential risks involved. Many of them would probably be horrified by the suggestion that they are endorsing a policy that could require shooting down Russian jets over Syria, and yet that is exactly what they are doing. We are seeing members of Congress and presidential candidates reacting instinctively to a Russian move by calling for military options that are neither feasible nor desirable for the U.S. The reflexive, unthinking nature of the reaction is one more reason why these calls for a “no-fly zone” in Syria should be flatly rejected.