Shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the federal government in Kyiv floated the concept of a no-fly zone to assist shield civilians and troopers. The West gave a swift and decisive refusal: threatening to shoot down Russian planes might set off World Conflict III.

And but, three weeks into the conflict, the no-fly zone proposal simply received’t die. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky begs for air assist nearly every day. In protests and social media posts, hundreds of thousands of strange individuals all over the world ask NATO to #closethesky. 


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Right here in America, a nationwide ballot confirmed that 74% of Individuals assist a no-fly zone. And earlier this month, 27 overseas coverage specialists revealed an open letter requesting a restricted no-fly zone over humanitarian corridors. 

If a no-fly zone is so clearly impractical, why are we nonetheless speaking about it? The reply — which is conspicuously lacking from mainstream Western discourse — lays naked the elemental downside within the US response to the conflict. 

A False Dichotomy

Politicians and the media provide a single simplistic argument in opposition to defending Ukraine’s airspace: Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Nearly each official assertion, article and op-ed might be summarized in a single sentence: A no-fly zone would begin World Conflict III.

However right here’s the half nobody says out loud: What occurs if the West doesn’t institute a no-fly zone? Will such a transfer preserve us secure from nuclear Armageddon? Can the US handle to remain out of this conflict and out of Russia’s crosshairs? 

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Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric — and his actions — provide a transparent reply. The US can keep away from direct confrontation however at a value: handing the Russian chief an absolute, complete victory. In Ukraine, in fact, but in addition in Moldova and Georgia and maybe the Baltics, and who is aware of the place else? And, in fact, carte blanche to commit no matter atrocities he’d like worldwide (à la Syria). 

If Putin can’t win, he’ll lash out in opposition to enemies actual and imagined. At that time, it received’t matter whether or not these enemies have instituted a no-fly zone. Putin has already likened sanctions and weapons deliveries to declarations of conflict on Russia, making a prepared excuse for retaliation. He’s arrange a false narrative about Ukraine constructing a nuclear bomb, constructing a rationale to make use of his personal nuclear weapons. 

America’s Selection 

The true query earlier than the US authorities isn’t whether or not to institute a no-fly zone. It’s whether or not America is able to assist Ukraine win or prefers to face by and watch the rise of a brand new Russian empire. 

If not, we should stand as much as Putin now. There are a number of viable coverage choices for doing so. One is arranging a no-fly zone administered by the United Nations somewhat than NATO. One other is sending Ukraine decommissioned Western fighter jets and several other dozen volunteer air drive vets who can be granted Ukrainian citizenship. Yet one more can be to ship solely jets — Ukrainian fighter pilots have confirmed that they’ll, in actual fact, study to fly Western jets in just some days. 

The precise mechanism issues lower than the political will — the choice to ship Putin a transparent message that the US won’t let him take Ukraine, backed up by adequate navy assist. This selection will not be risk-free. Nevertheless it’s unattainable for Ukraine to prevail with out angering Putin

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Is the danger price it? Ukrainians consider so as a result of they see one thing most Individuals haven’t but discovered: World Conflict III has already began. Putin’s grand ambitions are paying homage to a sure German dictator 80 years earlier than him, as is the US technique of appeasement. Ultimately, US involvement is inevitable, so why not be strategic and proactive somewhat than reacting years later when the human and financial prices of Putin’s empire-building are too excessive to be ignored? 

In fact, the US authorities might disagree with this angle and go for appeasement 2.0. Possibly this time round, the unstable dictator can be extra affordable?

If that is so, and the US authorities is not prepared to face as much as Putin, it’s important to make it clear that Zelensky is on his personal. If we can’t make a dedication to let Ukrainians win, we should always allow them to lose. Ukraine’s authorities deserves an sincere understanding of what it could actually and may’t anticipate from the US so it could actually make selections accordingly.  

The Worst of Each Worlds

To this point, American politicians have spurned each of those choices. As a substitute, they’re pursuing an immoral, harmful fantasy, ready for somebody to cease Putin with out America getting its fingers soiled. To this finish, they provide half-measures that drag out the battle and value hundreds of lives. They put on blue and yellow, they ship support and enact sanctions, however they consciously avoid any assist that would result in a Ukrainian victory. 

This brings us again to the absurd state of affairs we began with: ongoing requires an unattainable no-fly zone, which we are able to now see are completely logical. Let’s assessment.

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America: Ukraine, we assist you in your courageous struggle for freedom!

Ukrainians and their buddies overseas: Nice! So, the one factor we’d like is assist with our airspace.

America: No can do. However consider us — we’re in your facet right here and we’re prepared to assist! 

Ukrainians: Thanks. We’re dying right here and we are able to’t win with out air assist. 

America: As soon as once more, no. However we stand with you.

This hypocrisy goes nicely past the talk over the no-fly zone. For example, on March 6, Secretary Blinken gave the inexperienced gentle for Poland to donate its fighter jets to Ukraine. When Poland agreed to cede the jets to the US for quick switch to the Ukrainian military, American officers backpedaled in a really spectacular show of doublespeak. 

Ukraine can’t win this conflict with out the US taking tangible steps to guard Ukrainian airspace. Pretending in any other case and willfully extending the bloodshed with partial measures is the worst doable possibility for america. 

The US authorities doesn’t owe Ukraine assist. Nevertheless it does owe Ukraine a direct finish to the falsehoods and the empty phrases — a bullshit ceasefire, if you’ll. An admission that, irrespective of what number of civilian deaths, it doesn’t matter what type of banned weapons Russia makes use of or what number of conflict crimes it commits, irrespective of if Russia drops a nuclear bomb on Kyiv, the US won’t step in. 

Till then, Russia pushes new boundaries on daily basis with impunity, Ukraine holds out hope for assist that may by no means come and Joe Biden wavers whereas youngsters die. 

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.