“The argument is, ‘Well, we’ll get into conflict with Russia,’” former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said on CBS last week, referring to what critics say about the no-fly zone idea. “Well, maybe Russia shouldn’t want to be in conflict with us. I mean, this is a place where American leadership is desperately needed.”
Bush’s attitude is inexcusable, and it shows once again that he has disqualified himself as much as any of the other hawkish candidates by taking this position. He is proposing that the U.S. should impose a “no-fly zone” in a country where it has no authority to do so and risk a conflict with a nuclear-armed government whose forces have been invited in by the government of that country. Bush brushes aside the most significant argument against his reckless policy with the equivalent of saying, “Well, oh yeah?” Nothing could be more dangerous or dim-witted than courting great power conflict because of a childish obsession with demonstrating our “leadership.”
A “no-fly zone” in Syria would risk bringing U.S. forces into direct conflict with Russian forces in a country where we have no vital interests. There is no way that this a risk worth taking when the U.S. has so little at stake there. The truth is that any candidate willing to risk war with Russia for the sake of a Syrian “no-fly zone” is unfit to be president, and any candidate that endorses this option as a bluff is too foolish to be allowed anywhere near real power. These hawkish candidates are doing us a favor by broadcasting as loudly as possible that they can’t be trusted with the presidency. It remains to be seen if the voters are paying sufficient attention to make them pay for their recklessness.