This is how America will accidentally join the Syrian civil war

Let’s unpack this observation briefly. The only “international community” that can recognize such an intervention into another country is the U.N. Security Council, which approved just such a resolution endorsing a no-fly zone in Libya in 2011, acting under Chapter 8 of the Charter of the United Nations. Given Russia’s ability to veto such a resolution as a permanent member of the Security Council, the intervention that Pence is proposing will almost certainly not be “recognized.”

A “route for safe passage” to “protect people in those areas” implies that noncombatants would be protected only when en route to somewhere, apparently in this case to a safe zone, but perhaps elsewhere, such as to border checkpoints. There is no specification about where exactly those routes would be, or, again, who — among the “others in the region” — would choose to enforce such route security, or how they would do it. This mission would seem to have to include an extensive commitment of dismounted infantry troops, and ground mobility and air support to escort convoys of noncombatants and humanitarian vehicles. Of course, there would also need to be militaries willing to impose and enforce a no-fly zone over the routes themselves or over the geographically unidentified protected areas. Pence offered precisely zero details on any of these matters.

Nor were the vice presidential candidates willing to address the two most important and consequential questions pertaining to the military missions they were describing: Will the enforcement of the safe, humanitarian, or no-fly zones include attacking Russian military assets that threaten or violate those excluded areas?