The Russians are coming!
By Christian Brose The news that two Russian nuclear submarines are patrolling off the eastern coast of the United States brings to mind a similar event from last year, when the Kremlin sent two of its aging Blackjack bombers on a "training mission" into the western hemisphere. The best line at the time was attributed ...
The news that two Russian nuclear submarines are patrolling off the eastern coast of the United States brings to mind a similar event from last year, when the Kremlin sent two of its aging Blackjack bombers on a "training mission" into the western hemisphere. The best line at the time was attributed to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. As the decrepit, Cold War-era Blackjacks clunked and sputtered their way to Venezuela, the Pentagon diligently scrambled a few fighter jets to shadow them — a mission whose real purpose, Gates reportedly remarked, was "search and rescue." That basically sums up my reaction to this recent submarine incident: Worth keeping an eye on, but not worth much else.
What makes this attempt at muscle-flexing more comical still is the official reaction from the deputy chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces: Stating that the rationale for the submarine mission is "the fleet shouldn’t sit on its hands and be idle" (an interesting image, but OK) and that the reason for the earlier long-range bomber missions was because "we got tired of flying in circles" is much more revealing of Russia’s shortcomings as a great power than I’m sure the gentleman had intended. Calling it a "routine" mission is probably not the best approach either. The whole point of these exercises is to goad the United States into behaving as Russia does, which is presumably to lodge loud protests that Moscow is meddling in our "sphere of influence", thereby enabling Russia to hoot and holler about American hypocrisy.
This is the geopolitical equivalent of nanny-nanny-boo-boo. And while it’s good to know that our folks at NORAD are monitoring it closely, the best response is to treat it with the nonchalant dismissal it deserves. That, and making sure we’re prepared to assist in the event that the submarine sinks.
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