If you don’t already know, the second coming of the Cold War is just around the corner. Or not. Because I feel like it never really ‘ended’ to begin with. Our nation’s latest questionable engagement is in Syria, predictably. This time however, there are mounting concerns that the presence of no fly zones in Syria could instigate war between the United States and Russia.
Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian explains how a bunch of supposed military experts are getting worried.
Retired senior US military pilots are increasingly alarmed that Hillary Clinton’s proposal for “no-fly zones” in Syria could lead to a military confrontation with Russia that could escalate to levels that were previously unthinkable in the post-cold war world.
The former strategists spoke to the Guardian as Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump warned that Clinton’s proposal to establish “safe zones” to protect beleaguered Syrian civilians would “lead to world war three”.
The proposal of no-fly zones has been fiercely debated in Washington for the past five years, but has never attracted significant enthusiasm from the military because of the risk to pilots from Syrian air defenses and the presence of Russian warplanes.
I think all their concern is justified to say the least. According to Ackerman, Russia and the United States operate on opposite sides of the country and each have distinct interests in Syria. The United States wants to dismantle ISIS and Russia wants to take down those who oppose Assad. Military experts fear that a no-fly zone imposed by the U.S. would cause unnecessary tensions between our two nations.
Kuehn, a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command gave the following statement.
“I see almost nothing positive that can come from implementing [a no-fly zone] at the current time over Syria. Conversely, the potential to make a bad situation worse is very, very high,”1
Clinton, who is continuously pushing for a Syrian no fly zone has the interests of refugees and the Syrian people at heart. The presidential candidate articulates that the no fly zone is simply political leverage in getting what she wants. She believes that by antagonizing the Russians, we may be able to get a political foothold in the country and possibly increase trade with Russia or Assad. I personally don’t see how implementing a no fly zone will in any way help leverage anything out of Russia.
Those who oppose Clinton’s proposition cite that Russia nor Assad are even interested in political talks due to the two wanting primarily to focus on each other’s safety.
But strategists have a hard time understanding how a no-fly zone provides the US with a large enough leverage to trade with Assad or Russia, given their objective is, respectively, self-preservation and the preservation of a client.
“I don’t understand how a no-fly zone gets you to a political settlement. There’s no history supporting that. There were no-fly zones in Iraq for close to a decade and it settled nothing,” said Joshua Rovner of Southern Methodist University.
“I wish this would be the kind of leverage she seems to hope it is, but I don’t see why this would pose a serious threat to Assad or Putin. It’s accepting a lot of new costs with very few benefits.”1
Clinton should leave the military strategies to the military strategists if she wants to accomplish anything in the Middle East and especially Syria. The whole area is extremely volatile and one wrong move on our country’s behalf could start things we should not start under any circumstances. The last thing the United States needs is a war with Putin, especially over imposing an arguably useless no-fly zone.