Kasich’s Dangerous Irresponsibility on Syria
John Kasich repeated his support for the terrible idea of a “no-fly zone” in Syria. His comments on it were almost as reckless as Rubio’s:
“You come into that no-fly zone, you will suffer the consequences,” Kasich said. When pressed about what he would do if Moscow invaded air space over a no-fly zone, he said “there will be severe consequences.”
I suppose this might sound “tough” until one realizes how deranged it is. Kasich wants us to think that he would approve of shooting down Russian jets that violate his “no-fly zone.” At best, this is empty bluster and will be seen as such. In that case, Kasich’s own foolish “red line” will be violated with impunity. At worst, Kasich means this and is willing to risk war with Russia over a “no-fly zone” in Syria that serves no American interest. If that’s how he would act as president, it proves that he can’t be trusted with the presidency.
By contrast, Rand Paul was one of the only presidential candidates with a sane statement on this issue. He said this in an interview yesterday:
That’s drawing a red line in the sky. Once you draw a red line, and people cross it, what happens? Now we’re talking about an incident that could lead to World War III. We went 70 years having open channels of communication with the Russians, trying to avoid having one side shoot down the opposite side’s plane. I think the people who call for a no-fly zone are naive. Right now, Russia’s actually being invited by two of the neighboring countries, by Iraq and Syria. We’re going to say we’re going to stop Russia from flying in the area when two of the countries being flown over have invited that country in? [bold mine-DL] This gets back to whether we want to diplomatically isolate ourselves, or whether we want to diplomatically engage.
On Syria, Paul is clearly distinguishing himself from the rest of the field and he is making the better policy argument. His point that the Syrian and Iraqi governments are agreeing to let Russian forces fly in their airspace and have sought or considered seeking Moscow’s support is an important one that usually gets lost in this debate. The U.S. has no authority to impose the “no-fly zone” that hawks want to establish, and it would be foolish in the extreme to think that Russia would recognize or respect a “no-fly zone” if one were created. For all the whining about how Russia has “humiliated” the U.S. in Syria before now, what the hawks propose would guarantee that the U.S. either engages extremely dangerous escalation or is forced into making a genuinely humiliating climbdown.
Virtually every other candidate on the Republican field besides Paul and Trump has approved of some version of the reckless approach that Kasich endorsed, and in doing so they have exposed themselves as unfit for the office they seek.