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Moscow Launches on Eve of Nobel/SOFA

On the eve that President Obama was to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, Moscow decided to fire one of its submarine-launched Bulava missiles over Oslo, lighting up the night sky with a curious blue streak (see VIDEO). The Bulava-30 is Russia's most advanced SLBM, capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear MIRV warheads.  

The launch was a clear statement of defiance to NATO's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which was slated to be signed today, December 10, between the US and Poland.

The theatrics come two weeks after a November 26 meeting in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, where the Secretary General voiced concerns about the possibility of a nuclear-armed Tehran: 

"It might of course eventually become NATO business as well, because then it is a question of protecting our territories and our populations against a potential threat.  To that end, we are right now considering the possibility to establish missile defense which also covers Europe."

In September, Obama shelved the previous administration's plans to place 10 long-range ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and a fixed-site radar station in the Czech Republic.  

The SOFA deal was a prerequisite to setting up a US ground-to-air missile base in Poland. (US officials say deployment should start in 2010). The new U.S. plan would place ship-based SM-3s in the North and Mediterranean seas in 2011, and mobile land-based SM-3s in Central Europe by 2015.

In contrast to the previous system which was strongly opposed by Russia, the new multidirectional radars and missiles would not be able to penetrate deep into Russia's territory.  

Nonetheless, Moscow has a flare for making its displeasures known. 


a BRAND new Georgia

In an effort to reassert its value and enhance its image after a bruising military confrontation with Russia in August 2008, Georgia has turned its attention to the exploits of soft power.  In particular, the silver screen.  According to EurasiaNet, Georgia “has been trying to pique the interest of foreign producers by offering Georgia as a low-cost location for big-budget movies.”  Currently filming in the capitol Tbilisi is a movie about the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.  The film stars Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia as President Saakashvili, Jonathan Schaech as Captain Rezo Avaliani, Val Kilmer in a yet undisclosed role, and is directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight).  The film is a counterpunch to the Russian production of a “state-financed action movie about the war that featured an American entomologist struggling to escape from the Georgian military’s onslaught.”[1]  The American production should give Georgia some needed notoriety.

Continuing in its pursuit of soft power, Georgia should also invest in its natural talent – WINE. Unbeknownst to many, Georgia is believed to be the birthplace of wine -- some 7000 years ago.  The fertile valleys of the southern Caucasus make wine cultivation ideal.  By developing its natural viticultural prowess, Georgia could win the sympathetic hearts of wine lovers around the world.  No longer would Georgia be confused with the American state that has as its capitol, Atlanta.  Georgia would brand itself, becoming synonymous with good wine.  The name of the Georgian wine valley would need to be tweaked of course for marketing purposes (the Georgian language is a bit consonant heavy) and the wine as said would have to be good.  But who then would pick a fight with such a _______ (insert wine description of choice, i.e. elegant, balanced, Audrey Hepburnish) country? Who would dare invade Napa Valley?  Or Champagne?  Or Tuscany?  Not since Bela Karolyi joined American gymnastics would Russia find itself so tongue-tied. Baia Valley, Georgia. The Cradle of Wine.