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Support for a “No-Fly Zone” in Syria Should Be Disqualifying

In a sane foreign policy debate, the people agitating for a clash with a nuclear-armed great power would be met with derision and scorn.
syria plane rocket

Lindsey Graham reminds us why creating a “no-fly zone” in Syria is such an insane and irresponsible idea:

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says he would shoot down Russian planes in Syrian airspace in order to protect U.S.-backed forces in the region.

The good news is that Graham will never be in a position to give such an order, but unfortunately almost all of the other Republican candidates for president share his position, and Clinton’s position is virtually indistinguishable from his. Rubio, Christie, and Kasich have been the most explicit about their willingness to court war with Russia for the sake of ineffective Syrian proxies, but any candidate that supports a “no-fly zone” in Syria has already committed to risking armed confrontation with Russian forces there.

Syria hawks are prepared to risk conflict with Russia to defend proxies in a civil war in which the U.S. has nothing at stake. Even by the usual standards of interventionist hubris, this is remarkably dangerous for the U.S. It is also completely unnecessary. It was already a mistake to back any side in the Syrian civil war, and it would compound the error to risk a major war to come to their defense. Indeed, the whole point of supplying proxies with weapons rather than intervening directly is to limit the risks and costs for the U.S., but hawks in Washington are easy eager to find a way to increase both.

Graham complains that it isn’t right “to entice people to come to a fight, train and equip them, side with them on their cause, and sit back and watch them being slaughtered.” I agree that it isn’t right to do that, but then the responsibility for that error lies with the people such as Graham that urged the U.S. to do the enticing and taking sides. The U.S. blundered by taking sides in Syria, but it would be guilty of a far greater wrong if it used that blunder to justify risking a war with a major power. In a sane foreign policy debate, the people agitating for a clash with a nuclear-armed great power as Graham is doing would be met with derision and scorn, but unfortunately in our debate he and others like him, such as Rubio, are feted as supposed experts.

As Ted Galen Carpenter said earlier today, a “no-fly zone” in Syria is totally unnecessary and proves these candidates are unfit for the office:

There is nothing at stake in Syria that warrants the United States risking such a dangerous confrontation with Russia. Imposing a no-fly zone under the current circumstances is utterly reckless. Anyone who embraces such a scheme should be disqualified automatically from occupying the Oval Office.



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