As President Biden is meeting with our NATO Allies over the current Ukraine crisis one item, I am sure is on the agenda is the if NATO will support the establishment of defensive no fly zone over Ukraine. Yes, I have heard all the arguments for and against but despite the strong pushback from many of my conservative and libertarian brethren I still firmly believe establishing such a zone is not only in the best interest of Ukraine but also of the free world.
The Biden administration has cautioned that the United States will not directly enter the conflict in Ukraine. Its reasons are sound: War between nuclear powers has been and continues to be strategic “third rail” for decades. In addition, the United States does not have a viable anti-ballistic missile defensive capability despite the assumption by many American’s that one exists. Unfortunately, “Star Wars” was never fielded – perhaps the subject of a future Bull Elephant essay. But the time has come to reconsider this current tepid approach.
It is now crystal clear that Putin’s ambition is to exert not only influence but direct control over the territories of the former Soviet Union. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, he stated regarding the breakup of the former U.S.S.R. “We turned into a completely different country and what had been built up over 1,000 years was largely lost.” He added “twenty-five million Russian people in newly independent countries suddenly found themselves cut off from Russia, part of what he called “a major humanitarian tragedy.” If Ukraine falls, NATO will face a new threat without the Ukrainian military and with much less strategic depth. After all, it is only a short jump from Belarus to Russia’s Baltic enclave.
Yes, Ukrainian resistance has been extraordinary strong and resilient. Frustrated by his inept military’s lack of progress, Putin is now bombarding cities, committing crimes against humanity, and counting on terror to break the will of the Ukrainian people. However, despite the material assistance provided to Ukraine through the use of chemical/biological weapons or God forbid tactical nuclear weapons Russia may well eventually prevail. The creation of a defensive A defensive no-fly zone would enable NATO members to resupply Ukraine’s military by ground and air, as well as give Ukraine a realistic prospect of success and survival.
Entering the war in Ukraine is a sobering, painful, and difficult choice the West would prefer to avoid; however, it may be inevitable. European security, so carefully constructed under the guise of the United States but neglected by those it was designed to protect is under severe strain, The West thought that 1939 could never happen again yet déjà vu.
The Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz reminds us, war changes things: Cold policy calculations have their place. And so, too, does principle, and respect for the sovereignty of nations and the right of people to live in peace and freedom. Where the West’s interests and principles align, it should not fear to act. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly.
Establishment of a defensive no fly zone if only through the “lend lease” of Polish MIGs would be a strong signal to Putin that our red line has been crossed and that our actions speak louder than our words.