Being against a No-Fly Zone Has Nothing to Do With Putin

A sizable portion of the United States supports a no-fly zone in the conflict in Ukraine. President Zelensky has stayed on message consistently across multiple platforms, creating a groundswell call for NATO to deploy its airpower. A no-fly zone sounds good in theory, but support for it drops once people understand what that would mean.

Russia maintains anti-air assets within its territory that can reach Ukranian airspace. This means that a no-fly zone would require striking targets within Russia proper. Once those were destroyed, NATO pilots would then have to shoot down Russian Migs to clear the airspace. This would not be a proxy war with Ukraine as the battlefield. It would be direct kinetic action against a nuclear peer. The chance of an escalation into a nuclear exchange would become a real possibility.

Being opposed to direct NATO involvement in the crisis is a legitimate, intellectually honest position given this reality. It is a mystery then why people who have taken this stance are being labeled anywhere from a Putin apologist to a Russian puppet. What is even more interesting is that there is a monolith of support for Ukraine from both sides of the aisle. There is extraordinarily little opposition to escalating the conflict.

The United States is not attacking Russia directly. But it is doing everything it can to destroy its currency, ban its exports and isolate its oligarchs. Senator Lindsey Graham has even directly called for the assassination of Vladimir Putin multiple times. Few people are realizing that these actions taken together could easily escalate into armed conflict. We need sober leaders who are circumspect with their decisions and who are not only willing to listen to opposing views but welcome them.

When dissent is labeled “traitorous,” people naturally start to self-censor. At that point public opinion becomes an echo chamber and the march to war begins. Unfortunately, there is not a binary choice that solves the problem. There are multiple layers of complexity to the conflict that cannot be solved with slogans and platitudes. The threat of nuclear war should be taken extremely seriously by everyone. Unfortunately, the emotionally charged aspect of the war is clouding the judgment of decision makers. Let us hope there is a rapid de-escalation and an end to the conflict soon.