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Laughing at Russian Nuclear Subs

Are Cold War dangers really so passé and kitsch?

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Surprisingly few pundits have commented on news that Russian submarines were sighted off the eastern seaboard. More predictably, most of those who did made reference to The Hunt for Red October.

Given how seriously Russian threats are still treated in most foreign policy quarters, the lack of reaction--and the facetiousness of it--may be a sign that the actual danger is small. (This is the position Russian generals are pushing, blithely assuring Reuters that "The navy should not stay idle at its moorings." ) But it also suggests that nuclear submarines sound too anachronistic, too archaic as hazards to capture the public imagination except semi-ironically. In his response, Jules Crittenden--a right-wing blogger who frequently writes on foreign policy--can't help riffing on his favorite Cold War movies.

No reason to stay underwater with the Cold War flicks, though. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Red Dawn, Firefox ... heck, From Russia With Love...Sorry, got sidetracked. It was another time. This is supposed to be about those damned Russian subs, popping up again like a crazy stalker girlfriend from the past.

Still, there are a few explanations. Here's why pundits think the Russian navy is patrolling American waters:

  • Bravado to Compensate for a Failed Missile Launch, says Norman Polmar as quoted in the New York Times. "It's the military trying to demonstrate that they are still a player in Russian political and economic matters."
  • Playing to the Political Crowd at Home, says Jules Crittenden at Forward Movement. "I doubt it's not just the military trying to impress the pols. It's the pols trying to impress everyone else, at home and abroad. Ivan wants attention."
  • A Test for Obama and Revenge for Biden's Slight says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "(2) Russia's pissed at Biden for his crack a few weeks ago about their economy "withering" and is flexing some muscle in response. (3) Russia's looking to expand its presence in the western hemisphere more generally, which explains its naval exercises with Venezuela in December. (4) Russia's gearing up to make another move on Georgia and is putting The One on notice that they're not to be trifled with when they do."
  • To Make Tom Clancy Relevant Again, says The Cajun Boy at Gawker. "At the very least, perhaps this will give Tom Clancy something to write about once again."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.