Shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the government in Kyiv floated the idea of a to help protect civilians and soldiers. The West gave a swift and decisive refusal: threatening to shoot down Russian planes could set off .
And yet, three weeks into the war, the NATO to #closethesky.proposal just won’t die. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky begs for air support almost daily. In protests and social media posts, millions of ordinary people around the world ask
No, the Ban on Russian Athletes Should Not Be Lifted
Here in America, a nationwide poll showed that 74% of Americans support a . And earlier this month, 27 foreign policy experts published an open letter requesting a limited over humanitarian corridors.
If ais so obviously impractical, why are we still talking about it? The answer — which is conspicuously missing from mainstream Western discourse — lays bare the fundamental problem in the response to the war.
A False Dichotomy
Politicians and the media offer a single simplistic argument against protecting ’s airspace: Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Almost every official statement, article and op-ed can be summarized in one sentence: A would start .
But here’s the part no one says out loud: What happens if the West doesn’t institute a? Will such a move keep safe from nuclear Armageddon? Can the manage to stay out of this war and out of crosshairs?
Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric — and his actions — offer a clear answer. The can avoid direct confrontation but at a price: handing the Russian leader an absolute, total victory. In , of course, but also in Moldova and Georgia and perhaps the Baltics, and who knows where else? And, of course, carte blanche to commit whatever atrocities he’d like worldwide (à la Syria).
Ifcannot win, he will lash out against enemies real and imagined. At that point, it won’t matter whether those enemies have instituted a . has already likened sanctions and weapons deliveries to declarations of war on , creating a ready excuse for retaliation. He’s set up a false narrative about building a nuclear bomb, building a rationale to use his own nuclear weapons.
The real question before thegovernment isn’t whether to institute a . It’s whether America is ready to help win or prefers to stand by and watch the rise of a new Russian empire.
If not, we must stand up to arranging a administered by the United Nations rather than NATO. Another is sending decommissioned Western fighter jets and several dozen volunteer air force vets who would be granted Ukrainian citizenship. Yet another would be to send only jets — Ukrainian fighter pilots have confirmed that they can, in fact, learn to fly Western jets in just a few days.now. There are multiple viable policy options for doing so. One is
The specific mechanism matters less than the political will — the decision to senda clear message that the will not let him take , backed up by sufficient military support. This option is not risk-free. But it’s impossible for to prevail without angering .
Is the risk worth it? Ukrainians believe so because they see something most Americans haven’t yet figured out:has already started. Putin’s grand ambitions are reminiscent of a certain German dictator 80 years before him, as is the strategy of appeasement. In the end, involvement is inevitable, so why not be strategic and proactive rather than reacting years later when the human and economic costs of Putin’s empire-building are too high to be ignored?
Of course, thegovernment may disagree with this perspective and opt for appeasement 2.0. Maybe this time around, the unstable dictator will be more reasonable?
If this is the case, and thegovernment is not ready to stand up to , it’s essential to make it clear that Zelensky is on his own. If we cannot make a commitment to let Ukrainians win, we should let them lose. ’s government deserves an honest understanding of what it can and can’t expect from the so it can make decisions accordingly.
The Worst of Both Worlds
So far, American politicians have spurned both of these options. Instead, they’re pursuing an immoral, dangerous fantasy, waiting for someone to stopwithout America getting its hands dirty. To this end, they offer half-measures that drag out the conflict and cost thousands of lives. They wear blue and yellow, they send aid and enact sanctions, but they consciously steer clear of any support that could lead to a Ukrainian victory.
This bringsback to the absurd situation we started with: ongoing calls for an impossible , which we can now see are absolutely logical. Let’s review.
America:, we support you in your brave fight for freedom!
Ukrainians and their friends abroad: Great! So, the one thing we need is support with our airspace.
America: No can do. But believe— we’re on your side here and we’re ready to help!
Ukrainians: Thank you. We’re dying here and we can’t win without air support.
America: Once again, no. But we stand with you.
This hypocrisy goes well beyond the debate over the backpedaled in a truly impressive display of doublespeak.. For instance, on March 6, Secretary Blinken gave the green light for Poland to donate its fighter jets to . When Poland agreed to cede the jets to the for immediate transfer to the Ukrainian army, American officials
Thegovernment doesn’t owe support. But it does owe an immediate end to the falsehoods and the empty words — a bullshit ceasefire, if you will. An admission that, no matter how many civilian deaths, no matter what kind of banned weapons uses or how many war crimes it commits, no matter if drops a nuclear bomb on Kyiv, the will not step in.
Until then,pushes new boundaries every day with impunity, holds out hope for help that will never come and Joe Biden wavers while children die.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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