Kentucky Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul told CNN’s Jake Tapper a U.S. no-fly zone in Syria will result in a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia.
“This would be a no-fly zone in an air space where Russia’s already flying,” Paul said. “It would be a recipe for disaster, probably a recipe for World War III. And I think it’s such a bad idea that it probably won’t happen. But we also have to look at where we are. You mentioned Iran, Iran is in Iraq. Russia is in Iraq, or flying over Iraq and flying over Syria.”
He characterized a no-fly zone as the “most important foreign policy question of our time” and said every candidate should be asked are “you for a no-fly zone? Because if you are for a no-fly zone, I think you’re naive.”
Hillary Clinton and her Republican challengers have called for a no-fly zone.
“We need to try to set up and enforce a no-fly zone to try to stop the outflow of refugees so people can stay at home,” Clinton said .
Last week presidential contender Chris Christie said he would shoot down Russian jets if the U.S. established a no-fly zone.
“My first phone call would be to Vladimir, and I’d say to him, ‘Listen, we’re enforcing this no-fly zone. And I mean we’re enforcing it against anyone, including you. So don’t try me. Don’t try me. ‘Cause I’ll do it,’” Christie told MSNBC.
During an event in New Hampshire, John R. Kasich said he would favor a no-fly zone.
“You enter that no-fly zone, you enter at your own peril,” he said, alluding to the Russians.
“I think we need to create safe zones to have a safe harbor for refuges and to allow us to rebuild the remnants of the Syrian free army,” Jeb Bush said last week. “The argument is, well we’ll get into the conflict with Russia, maybe Russia shouldn’t want to be in conflict with us.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has also called for a no-fly zone and said he believes the Russians would back down if one was imposed.
“If you are going to have a no-fly zone, it has to be against anyone who would dare intrude on it, and I am confident that the United States Air Force can enforce that, including against the Russians,” Rubio said during an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood. “I believe the Russians would not test that. I don’t think it is in the Russians’ interest to engage in an armed conflict of the United States.”
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham talked about the prospect of shooting down Russian planes back in June.
“We can shoot planes down without having boots on the ground,” he said.
In August Graham called for ground troops to compliment a no-fly zone.
“While a no fly zone in Syria is a step in the right direction, without a ground component it is doomed to fail,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that regional ground forces be formed in large numbers to destroy ISIL and push Assad aside. For this regional force to be effective and successful, it will require integration of American troops. The American component could range from 5,000 to 10,000 depending on how the force is formed.”
Front-runner Donald Trump has called for “safe zones” and has not said he favors shooting down Russian planes.
“The concept of a safe zone maybe makes more sense than anything, where all of the countries and not just us foot the bill,” he told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News. “We are always footing everybody’s bill. Nobody else gets involved. Nobody else pays.”