Attempting to enforce a 'no-fly zone' in Syria is a recipe for disaster
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and President Obama — and some NATO partners) did it previously to Libya, and here was the result (as discussed by the retired British career diplomat Craig Murray, at his craigmurray.org.uk, who has kindly allowed me to distribute it to other newsmedia) [and I as editor will add a few clarifiers and questions in brackets] (and then afterward, I shall add my own comments); so, here is Craig Murray:
When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a “no-fly zone” they actually mean the opposite. They mean that NATO should be given untrammelled access to the [Syrian] airspace to carry out mass bombings – but that nobody else [including the Syrian government] should.
We saw it in Libya. The argument goes like this. NATO aircraft need to enforce the no-fly zone. To do this in safety, they need to attack and destroy any ground-to-air weapons capabilities on the ground. That does not just include surface-to-air missiles, both carriage mounted and hand held, but anything that can be pointed upwards and fired. They need to take out by more bombing any stores that may house such weapons. They need to take out any radar installations, including civilian ones, that may pinpoint NATO aircraft. They need to destroy any runways and hangars, including civilian ones. They need to destroy by bombing all military command and control centres, including those in built-up areas. They need to destroy the infrastructure on which air defence relies, including electricity generation and water supply, including civilian assets.
I am not exaggerating. That really is the doctrine of NATO for enforcing a “no-fly zone”, as previously witnessed in Iraq and Libya. It really was NATO aircraft which did to the beautiful Mediterranean town of Sirte the destruction which you see in that picture – in order to enforce a no-fly zone. Enforcement of the no-fly zone was the only authorisation NATO had for the massive bombing campaign on Libya which enabled regime change, which enabled rival jihadist militias to take over the country. They showed their gratitude by murdering the US Ambassador. The failure of central government led to Libya becoming the operating site from which a number now in the hundreds of thousands of boat refugees have crossed to Europe.
Now they wish to do precisely the same again. Make no mistake. Those calling for a “No-fly zone” do indeed want to stop the bombs falling on jihadist-held areas of Aleppo. But they want to replace this with NATO dropping a vastly greater weight of vastly more powerful weaponry on areas held by the Assad regime. They are relentless warmongering bastards, pretending to be motivated by humanitarian concern.
There are no easy answers in Syria. Without Russian and Syrian government air power, Syria might well already have fallen to disparate groups of murdering religious fanatics, who would then have redoubled their existing tendency to also kill each other. The pretence that there is any significant number of pro-western democratic rebels is ludicrous nonsense. But so equally is the pretence that the Assad regime is a decent regime. It is not and never has been. There is always this pathetic reductionism in the western media to conflict as between “good guys” and “bad guys”. They are all killing civilians. They are all bad guys.
If all bombing were to stop, the danger is that jihadists would again gain the upper hand. But in a situation where there are no good options, I think that is still better than the continued bombing of civilian areas held by jihadists. The fact that the West has repeatedly done this massively in Mosul or Fallujah does not make it right for the Russians or Assad to do it now. The moral balance now must be for a halt to all bombing and all military air operations – including by NATO. [But would this enable the jihadists to take over Syria?]
A security council resolution could be tabled calling for the end of all military flights, by anybody, over Syrian airspace. The UK and US would oppose that, and so would all those Tories and Blairites pretending to advocate a no-fly zone in the House of Commons. That would show up the bastards for the evil hypocrites they are.
The extraordinarily honest “Moon of Alabama” blogger commented, a year ago:
I asked what purpose this media campaign [pumping a no-fly-zone] may have. It now seems clear that it is part of preparing the European public for all-out war on Syria, its government and its people.
The Guardian editors use the created migrant crisis to demand that "something" be done. They ridiculously first remind us that the false "no-fly-zone" campaign against Libya ended in a country ripped apart and more refugees only to then demand a similar campaign in Syria. Saner British voices remind us that "western" meddling in the Middle East is the source, not the solution for the current catastrophes.
But the BBC lets us know that the UK government is preparing for war on Syria despite an earlier parliament vote against such a move:
Ministers will start to make a case for British military action in Syria next week — with Downing Street keen to take the "next step" against so-called Islamic State — the BBC understands.
France is, of course, on board
Obama won’t unleash the Syrian no-fly zone — and war against Russia, and the nuclear destruction of human civilization (World War III) — but he is instead leaving that to Hillary Clinton. Here is what she has said about it:
CLINTON: We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Opposition forces on the ground, with material support from the coalition, could then help create safe areas where Syrians could remain in the country, rather than fleeing toward Europe.
This combined approach would help enable the opposition to retake the remaining stretch of the Turkish border from ISIS, choking off its supply lines. It would also give us new leverage in the diplomatic process that Secretary Kerry is pursuing. …
QUESTION: When you were secretary of state, you tended to agree a great deal with the then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. Gates was opposed to a no-fly zone in Syria; thought it was an act of war that was risky and dangerous. This seems to me the major difference right now between what the president — what Obama’s administration is doing and what you’re proposing.
Do you not — why do you disagree with Bob Gates on this?
CLINTON: Well, I — I believe that the no-fly zone is merited and can be implemented, again, in a coalition, not an American-only no-fly zone. I fully respect Bob and his knowledge about the difficulties of implementing a no-fly zone. But if you look at where we are right now, we have to try to clear the air of the bombing attacks that are still being carried out to a limited extent by the Syrian military, now supplemented by the Russian air force.
And I think we have a chance to do that now. We have a no-fly zone over northern Iraq for years to protect the Kurds. And it proved to be successful, not easy — it never is — but I think now is the time for us to revisit those plans.
I also believe, as I said in the speech, that if we begin the conversation about a no-fly zone, something that, you know, Turkey discussed with me back when I was secretary of state in 2012, it will confront a lot of our partners in the region and beyond about what they’re going to do. And it can give us leverage in the discussions that Secretary Kerry is carrying on right now.
So I see it as both a strategic opportunity on the ground, and an opportunity for leverage in the peace negotiations. …
QUESTION: Madam Secretary. Hi. Back to the no-fly zone. are you advocating a no-fly zone over the entire country or a partial no-fly zone over an enclave where refugees might find a safe haven? And in the event of either, do you foresee see you might be potentially provoking the Russians?
CLINTON: I am advocating the second, a no-fly zone principally over northern Syria close to the Turkish (ph) border, cutting off the supply lines, trying to provide some safe refuges for refugees so they don’t have to leave Syria, creating a safe space away from the barrel bombs and the other bombardments by the Syrians. And I would certainly expect to and hope to work with the Russians to be able to do that. [She expects Putin to join America’s bombing of Syria’s government and troops and shooting-down of Russia’s planes in Syria, but no question was raised her about this.] …
To have a swath of territory that could be a safe zone … for Syrians so they wouldn’t have to leave but also for humanitarian relief, … would give us this extra leverage that I’m looking for in the diplomatic pursuits with Russia with respect to the political outcome in Syria. [She expects Russia to agree to join her war against Russia.]
In a debate with Bernie on 19 December 2015, Hillary argued for her proposal that the U.S. impose in Syria a “no-fly zone” where Russians were dropping bombs on the imported jihadists who have been trying to overthrow and replace Assad: "I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I'm also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.” She said there that allowing the jihadists to overthrow Assad “would help us on the ground to protect Syrians,” somehow; and, also, that, somehow, shooting down Russia’s planes in Syria (the “no-fly zone”) "gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.”
Bernie Sanders’s response to that was: "I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.” He didn’t mention nuclear war as one of them.
The “no-fly zone” policy is one of three policies she supports that would likely produce nuclear war; she supports all of them, not merely the “no-fly zone.”
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.