No, We Shouldn’t Attack Russia and Start World War III Over Ukraine

The unjustified aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine has been met with scorn by much of the West. U.S. sanctions and European power have imposed punitive sanctions on the Russian invaders. Many Americans are inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainian people defending their homeland—and the unusual honor of President Volodymyr Zelensky—and wish that we could do even more.

Richard Engel (NBC News) contemplated, as he watched Russian forces move on Kyiv and considered whether or not the U.S. should strike the convoy.

As it should, this is an VeryBad idea. This is a dangerous idea.

First, Russia cannot be attacked by the U.S. because Congress hasn’t declared war. It is clear that any direct attack by the U.S. on Russian forces would constitute an act of war. For the first time in history, two superpowers of the world will be directly at odds. Both sides would be at greater risk from a nuke attack. For the first time ever in human history, there would finally be conditions that allow for an all out nuclear war.

While the situation of the Ukrainians in crisis is heartbreaking, it’s not possible for the U.S. to take any action that could lead to nuclear war. It would be great to reward Putin for trying to recover the Soviet empire. However, bad actors are not excuses for recklessness by the U.S. Engel suggests that this situation is a moral dilemma, but there’s no problem: There is no option for war between nuclear power.

It is the same for those calling to create a “nofly zone” in Ukraine. A no-fly zone is not a magic protective barrier—the U.S. would have to enforce it by shooting down Russian airplanes. Russia’s powerful air force makes this difficult. It would be war with Russia in any event. Therefore, the U.S. should reject Zelensky’s request for an exclusive no-fly zone. This has been a wise decision by the Biden administration.