I 100% agree with you that establishing a no-fly zone entails significant risk of military conflict with Russia, and members of both parties continue to ignore this risk when discussing their proposed course of action in Syria. I was particularly dismayed to read an op-ed from none other than John McCain blustering about this very topic. One would think a former pilot, and one who was a POW at that, would not so cavalierly dismiss the risks of getting into a shooting war with Russia over a place like Syria, but I digress…
At any rate, I wonder if there might be a middle ground between allowing the slaughter of Syrians to continue and blowing up Russian SAM systems (and soldiers). What if we were to “establish” a no-fly zone in concert with a don’t-fire-until-fired-upon policy? In other words, we put planes over Syria and tell the Russians/Iranians/Syrians something along the lines of: “This area is off limits to your aircraft. Any aircraft entering or firing on this area will be shot down. Any IADS radar, weapon system, or aircraft that targets or fires on one of our planes will be destroyed, no questions asked.”
It’s still dangerous, as you can bet that our planes would be tracked at all times by SAM and other aircraft radar systems, but it might at least allow everybody a chance to look tough without actually starting a war, while simultaneously protecting civilians from bombings. No pre-emptive attacks on air defense systems necessary. And if they shoot at us, we can truly say they were warned.
Thank you for your service, both in the military and in Congress, by the way.