In the great sweep of history, the deployment of two nuclear-powered Russian submarines to within two hundred miles of our east coast will surely go down as a minor gesture whose significance will be measured by the United States' response.
No response would be a strategic blunder, telling the world more about our strategic competence than anything else.
The correct response would be to show our strength through our hospitality.
We should immediately invite the crews of the two Russian boats to visit our great naval base at Norfolk, Virginia. Here they could resupply themselves with fresh stores of fruits and vegetables; could join our local soccer teams in a "futbal" tournament; could enjoy the latest Hollywood movies; and-last but not least-could write up brilliant reports, including photographs, of some portions of the vast U.S. naval base which is Norfolk.
Here are the headquarters of NATO's supreme allied commander, the commander of the United States Atlantic Fleet, the home base of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, NATO's Strike Fleet and many other commands.
A Russian submarine visit at this time, far from the Russians' home port on the cold and stormy coast of northern Russia, would be massively covered by the global media. The message of strength through hospitality including much if not all of the awesome scope of the U.S. and NATO Atlantic fleets would go about to the world, first and foremost to the American and Russian publics but also to Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Robert F. Ellsworth is President of The National Interest, Inc., and vice chairman of The Nixon Center. He has served as a Republican House member from Kansas, deputy secretary of defense and the U.S. Ambassador to NATO.