This was a bad idea when Fiorina pushed it yesterday and it’s still a bad idea today. Is one worse than the other, though? Fiorina wants an NFZ to protect American-backed rebels from Putin’s bombs; Hillary wants one for “humanitarian” reasons, the same sort of thinking that produced the paradise you and I know as modern Libya.
It’s worth risking a world war to help decide which barbarians ultimately prevail in Syria, no?
“I personally would be advocating now for a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors to try to stop the carnage on the ground and from the air, to try to provide some way to take stock of what’s happening, to try to stem the flow of refugees,” Clinton said in an interview with NBC affiliate WHDH in Boston after a campaign event nearby…
White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest seemed to rule out the idea of a no-fly zone as recently as Tuesday. “On the no-fly zone, our position on that hasn’t changed, which is at this point that’s not something that we’re considering,” he told reporters during a gaggle aboard Air Force One. “It raises a whole set of logistical questions about how exactly what would be enforced, what sort of resources would be used to actually protect that area. So that’s why at this point we’ve indicated that that’s not something that we’re considering right now.”
Fiorina’s plan is targeted. Putin can do what he wants so long as he doesn’t mess with our guys on the ground. (Unless some of those guys defect to ISIS, I guess, in which case we’ll be bombing them ourselves.) There’s a fair chance that Russia would respect that red line since there are plenty of other Sunni targets threatening Assad to busy themselves with. Hillary’s plan is gassy as can be. If she’s serious about a “humanitarian” campaign to stop the carnage, then she’s talking about a no-fly zone that would cover huge swaths of the country and would put the U.S. Air Force in direct confrontation with Assad’s air corps — and Putin’s. That would probably require a coalition, assuming you could muster one for a de facto NATO/Russia air war over Syria. I assume that, as with Fiorina, this is mostly campaign blather from Hillary designed to show swing voters that the First Woman President would be just as tough as the boys, but it’s interesting that she’s willing to cross the White House to make that point. Is there a strong contingent of purple-state voters so upset about Putin’s entrance into Syria that they’d want U.S. military assets deployed to check him? She seems to thinks so. And if there’s one politician who always has her finger on the pulse of middle America, it’s Hillary Clinton.
As noted in the excerpt, the White House is reluctant to take her advice — and they might end up producing novel reasons (for them) to avoid taking it.
Even if Obama was willing to risk seeing a proxy conflict in Syria escalate into direct U.S.-Russia confrontation, he seems to be hemmed in by his own rules of engagement there.
The letters that Obama has sent to Congress invoking his war powers since launching the anti-Islamic State campaign last September have stated that he is limiting it to “air strikes and other necessary actions against these terrorists” in Syria as well as Iraq…
One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration was reviewing the legal implications of Russia’s direct involvement in Syria’s conflict.
I’m looking forward to the White House arguing that the same guy who went to war unilaterally in Libya and ignored the legal advice of his own lawyers to do it will have no choice but to reject the idea of a no-fly zone because his war powers simply aren’t broad enough to permit one. Isn’t it strange how the unholy mess in Syria which he palpably doesn’t want to get involved in seems to bring out the legal stickler in President Overreach? He decided in 2013, after realizing that the public was chilly towards the idea of punishing Assad with airstrikes for using WMD, that he had no choice but to come to Congress for approval first. Now, after spending the last six years expanding the powers of the executive domestically and abroad, perhaps suddenly he’ll decide he can’t do a thing to protect rebels on the ground there because he sent Congress a letter that technically doesn’t allow him to do so. Darn his rotten luck.
Speaking of dubious presidential plans related to Syria, here’s Trump from the other day assuring a crowd that Syrian refugees — whom he said last month he’d accept on humanitarian grounds before quickly reversing himself — will be going back home once he’s president. Going back … into the world’s worst war zone? Not gonna happen. In fact, I asked a pal who works in immigration law whether it’d even be legal for the president to try to remove refugees once they’ve been granted asylum. He told me that much depends on precisely how State chooses to process them — a person granted true refugee status is harder to remove than someone who’s been granted, say, a nonimmigrant visa. But if refugee status is granted, typically it’s very difficult to kick that person out later. You could do it if you could show they’re a threat to national security but that would be an individual determination, not the blanket “we’re sending ’em home!” nonsense that Trump’s pushing here vis-a-vis all Syrians. Long story short, once they’re here, they’re probably here to stay unless State deliberately chooses to make them more easily removable later by designating them as something other than refugees. Which, let’s face it, seems unlikely.