War is creeping closer to NATO’s borders. On Sunday, a Ukrainian base just 11 miles from Poland was struck by Russian rockets. It seems like a warning. If one of those missiles had traveled just a few seconds farther west, NATO — and therefore the United States — and Russia could be on the verge of war.
While we can hope that cooler heads would prevail in case of such an accident or “accident,” that’s by no means guaranteed. So, if the occasion arose, could NATO pull the trigger on a full-scale war against Russia right this moment?
The short answer is “no,” and it’s time for both armchair military strategists and lawmakers calling for escalation to realize it.
“We’re in a reassurance posture, for our allies. We’re showing we’re in the game and our commitment is still strong,” David Shlapak of the Rand Corporation, told The Week in a recent interview. “We’re not in a deterrence posture. We’re not in a credible warfighting posture.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a no-fly zone (NFZ) many times, and there are plenty of people in the foreign policy establishment and even Congress who want to give it to him. NATO isn’t ready to do that either.
To set up a no-fly zone, the United States would have to move hundreds of planes from bases around the world. It would take weeks to set up and couldn’t be done under cloak of darkness. The Russians would know NATO was coming, and if you knew NATO was coming, wouldn’t you take countermeasures? Wouldn’t you see an act of war on the horizon?