The Cold War: Some things were never meant to end

After eight years of slugging it out in the Middle East, it is comforting to know the Cold War remains a fallback option.

The scene is the U.S. president shaking hands inside the Kremlin with his Russian counterpart. The men are smiling, stiffly, as the screen fades to U.S. warships entering the waters of a former Soviet satellite nation. Michael Corleone settling scores in “The Godfather“? Not quite, but we may have a Scorsese film in the making.

The USS Stout (DDG 55) recently anchored in the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi, ready to train members of the Georgian Coast Guard. The Russians, who decimated the young republic several months earlier over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, were less than pleased.

The Georgians embrace the U.S. as its “strategic ally.” Given its drive to join NATO — much to the displeasure of the Russians — it looks to the U.S. for some degree of safety from its large and lethal neighbor.

Training onboard the Stout included boarding of a hostile vessel and firefighting drills. Benign, but symbolic, since the Ruskies were close by flexing their naval might.

The Stout is the sixth U.S. vessel to visit the small but strategic nation since it was trounced by the Russians in August 2008. The first ships brought aid, which the Russians assume meant guns. The Stout is an Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, a favorite of many including the chief of naval operations who strongly implied his penchant for the class in a recent interview. Stout and her sisters make up a potent class of ship and can launch a Tomahawk cruise missile.

We are reasonably sure that Russia’s tangible and invaluable support for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan will continue, possibly with some offer the Americans can’t refuse.

Or not. We can always fall back on the familiar chilling of relations.

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