Date: October 11, 2016

The madness of calling for a No Fly Zone in Syria

The Labour MPs in Britain and assorted bleeding heart Twitter liberals called again for a No Fly Zone in Syria. One might have wondered that this insanity is over, but no…like a Phoenix it comes up every time there’s a bombing raid in Aleppo.

Unfortunately, Labour’s plan had zero specifics on how the NFZ would be achieved. Nothing on how to do it. Nothing about security dilemma or escalatory spiral. Nothing on why should we do it anyway, other than to “save Syrians”. Or what British interest would it achieve. Nothing about if a Western plane gets shot down, should we counter escalate, or climb down.

Here’s a simple war gaming simulation for all the Twitter bleeding hearts. Let’s go on to impose a NFZ in Syria. We try and knock out C4ISR. The Syrians delegate their anti-air ops to the Rus. The Russians come with fighter escorts, or worse, the Russians shoot down a Western jet. The Russians then say it was rebels or ISIS that shot it down. Should the West escalate? Climb down? If they climb down, what about perception and resolve? What if there is asymmetric escalation? Proxies attacking Western interests in other places? What about mission creep? If you haven’t done these aforementioned threat assessments and are calling for NFZ or intervention, you’re insane. Leave it to the pros. If you still want to take risk of escalation with Russia over Syria where there’s no long term geo-strategic interest, you’re an idiot. 

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B+D editor on being a Republican woman facing sexism from the party’s nominee

“We don’t need you to stand up for us, YOU needed to stand up for us for YOU.”

Marybeth Glenn is a contributing editor to Bombs + Dollars. A long time conservative Republican, she has been appalled this election with Donald Trump’s sexism and bigotry, the most recent example being the release of audio from 2005 of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting and hitting on married women. Editor Mitchell Blatt has already written his take on why Trump is wrong to try to normalize such depraved actions and comments. Glenn’s comments add the hard-hitting perspective of a conservative woman–and the first one has been retweeted over 3,000 times and liked over 7,000 times. Now presenting them in order:

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Tony Blair has an important insight on Iraq & Syria, but takes the wrong lesson.

Esquire published a long interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which Blair is put on the defensive about the Iraq War and the relationships his consulting firms had forged with authoritarian governments during his post-electoral politics career.

Interviewer and author Alex Bilmes emphasizes the degree to which Blair is disliked–hated even–by the British (and global) left. The idea that Blair was duplicitous in making the case for war or that he blindly followed U.S. President George W. Bush clearly annoys Blair, as Blair stated more than once in the course of multiple interviews Esquire published. Beyond that, Blair also defended his decision to join the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq on the merits; he doesn’t think that, on the whole, it was a mistake.

The arguments for and against are all so well worn, but Blair did offer one interesting new argument (that couldn’t have been made in 2002) that deserves consideration:

[W]hat people have got to bear in mind is that we have now had full intervention with boots on the ground, which is Iraq, partial intervention in Libya, without boots on the ground, and no intervention in Syria. And actually in only one of these countries, which is Iraq, is there a functioning government that is recognised as internationally legitimate, including by Saudi Arabia and Iran, and is actually capable of fighting terrorism. Now, maybe the Libyan government is getting there now but in Syria it’s a nightmare. So my point is very simple. I take a far longer perspective on this.”

I particularly emphasis his first sentence. Libya, Syria, and Iraq were all handled differently, and all turned into messes. Although Blair argues that Iraq is the best functioning government of the three, that is hardly a standard to be proud of. Even if Iraq maintains territorial unity and establishes ongoing control of its borders in the future–after having been overrun by ISIS–all indications are that it will remain a corrupt and factional government.

What Blair may be right about is that not intervening won’t prevent factional ethnic conflicts from arising and causing regional instability.

The takeaway for me, however, is that intervention into ethnic conflicts is not a solution either. Neither non-intervention, nor half-backed intervention, nor nation-building can solve tensions that have existed for centuries. The solution, then, would appear to be to let the parties fight it out, knowing that there is little to nothing the U.S. can do to end the Sunni-Shia split, and contain the impact. Trying to build a pluralistic nation in a place like Iraq with the current situation will always end a failure. That may not be the way we would like the world to be, but we have to deal with the world as it is. As I wrote for The Federalist last month, it’s time to end ideology-based foreign policy.

A few more thoughts on the interview:

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