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 airspace to carry out mass bombings – but that nobody else 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.
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 ad 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.