Talk of a 'No-Fly Zone' Over Ukraine Is Madness
Establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine is a deranged fantasy.
Whenever there is an international crisis or conflict, it is usually just a matter of time before a hawkish interventionist insists that the U.S. and its allies should establish a “no-fly zone” over the country in question. This is one of the most common responses no matter what the situation is, and it comes out of the experience of U.S. wars during the 1990s when American and allied air power was unchallenged and Western air forces could achieve air superiority without much difficulty and relatively little risk. The illegal no-fly zones over Iraq became models for later interventions, and in almost every debate over possible intervention since then hawks have demanded no-fly zones as if they were an easy, low-cost solution. To establish a no-fly zone requires an air campaign to knock out enemy air defenses and then it requires a sustained effort to keep patrols in the air to enforce it. Hawks pestered the Obama administration to establish one over Syria, but Obama was unwilling to commit to attacks on the Syrian government that this would involve.
Now that Russia is attacking Ukraine, we are seeing the same song and dance from some of the most aggressive interventionists.