Why a no-fly zone over Ukraine won't work
Several decades ago, a colleague from a neighboring department at my university loaned me a marketing textbook. Naturally, it was difficult to force a young physicist to read something that does not explore the Schrödinger Equation. Anyway, I accepted the book, intending to surf it politely for a few minutes and then ignore it.
However, the moment I opened the book, I was hooked. Since then, I have read and reread it several times. One of the practicing marketing experts who also taught at the university wrote its introduction. In particular, he described the type of homework given to his students. As part of the course, students were required to develop a marketing program for new, high-quality drill bits.
All undergraduates completed the assignment, and all earned an F.
Indeed, the marketing guru substantiated an explanation for such disastrous results. He noted that humans, in the truest sense of the word, do not need drill bits. What people actually want is holes, not drill bits. Thus, there is no need, and subsequently, there is no demand for them. People need holes in wood, metal, plastic, whatever. In reality, drill bits are only one part of the range of tools that allow men to accomplish their actual goals: the holes.
Any attempt to persuade individuals to purchase items they do not actually require is ineffective. Such an endeavor is ultimately not profitable. The correct, profitable approach is selling people what they truly desire: holes. The professor argued that marketing should focus on the holes rather than drill bits. Eventually, people will purchase these drill bits if they are convinced that they will get stunning holes at the end of the process.
Let us fast-forward to 2022. The Ukrainian citizens call for establishing a no-fly zone over the country. This is an excellent example of a situation where people demand things they do not actually need. There is no question that Ukrainians are anxious to stop deadly Russian aerial and missile attacks, and that is a noble goal, but it has nothing to do with NATO's no-fly zone. A no-fly zone is one of many tools available to achieve this objective. According to what is known, military personnel dislike it when civilians offer the mission and mandate specific tools.
Instead, let military professionals choose the methods and tools to stop terrible bombings and shelling of innocent civilians, assuming that the West — and, it seems, the world — wants to offer a helping hand to suffering Ukrainians. We must stop the chorus of internet military experts who were prominent virologists and world-renowned epidemiologists just a few weeks ago.
Ukrainians should be informed that while the need to stop the bombardments is acknowledged, the external methods to resolve it are not their choice. Various military, diplomatic, and economic tools are available — and the no-fly zone is just one (and not the most attractive) of them. (Regarding this matter, we are still awaiting official calls to expel Russia from the United Nations, similar to the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations for attacking Finland in 1940.)
One of the solutions would be a Lend-Lease-like program to deliver Ukraine high-tech anti-aircraft batteries. Ukraine already uses high-tech Turkish drones; they have to be complemented with American-made surface-to-air missiles.
Along with anti-aircraft defense weapons, the United States has historically supported just causes while embracing a façade of neutrality. There were, for example, approximately one hundred American military pilots who resigned from their commissions in 1940 and 1941 and joined Chiang Kai-shek's army in the fight against Imperial Japan. Note that American pilots entered the combat long before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) squadron became known as the Flying Tigers. It is noteworthy that the Flying Tigers flew Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters, made in Buffalo, N.Y., resulting in the first American aces of World War II.
Ukrainians must also observe that Flying Tigers represent a pre-woke American military. Today's politically correct military will take much longer to reach the right decisions. For this reason, Ukraine must fight off the invaders with what it has at this juncture — until Pentagon lawyers and Washington swamp-dwellers are able to explore and crunch risks, profits, and political expediency.
Image via the Department of Defense.