Bloggers analyze Moscow's offer to let the United States establish its missile defense system in Iraq, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. They also wonder if and how Tony Soprano will get whacked on Sunday night.
Baku to the Future: In a surprising turn of events, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested he'd feel less tetchy about an American missile-defense system located, in varying forms, in Iraq, Turkey, and at sea. He also aired Azerbaijin's latest proposal to use Soviet-era radar technology to warn against imminent ballistic threats from Iran. To what extent does this seeming gesture of conciliation defrost any new Cold War tensions between the United States and Russia?
"In principle, I think it's a good idea—and, with the benefit of my 20-20 hindsight—makes Putin's brinkmanship of the past few weeks seem much more logical," writes Andy Young at Russian blog Siberian Light. "Lets face it, Russia is at much at risk of missile attack from 'rogue' nations or terrorist groups as Western Europe and the United States—if not more so—and a joint missile shield does seem the logical way forward."
Cernig at foreign-policy and politics blog The Newshoggers sees Putin as a shrewd autocrat and expects "the US to refuse Putin's offer on the basis that it would hand dual control to Russia. … At that point, Putin will ignore American domestic political reality and announce that obviously the US system is a threat to Russia, otherwise they wouldn't worry about giving Russia access. And it will play credibly to many in a world already worried by neocon aggression."
"American and Russian objectives in Central Asia are not so dramatically opposed as popularly portrayed, and there is no fundamental reason the two countries could not cooperate in Central Asia," notes James at Central Asia and Caucasus blog New. "Both countries are committed to opposing militant Islam, both favor stability in the post-Soviet space, and both have a stake in the global economy. It seems that there are too many Cold War bureaucrats left over in the foreign affairs ministries of both sides. The Cold War is over, and there is no Great Game (or if there is, it is a childish one)."
Nylarthotep at righty Chaos-In-Motion is amenable to Moscow's conciliation: "There would still be questions about stability and security for the US facilities there and what would be allowed for a backup system in case Azerbaijan followed the path that so many of its regional counterparts have taken in the anti-US sentiment. Let's hope that level heads run this thing, because having Russia with us on this type of thing would be telling to the rest of the world."
Libertarian socialist Ace Brock at News From the Far Left has a problem with the Azerbaijani location: "[I]t's so close to Iran that by the time it detects a missile flying towards Europe the missile would have already blown by and no modern interceptor missile would be able to chase it down. … Surely Putin knew all of this, so why did he propose this location? To make the whole thing irrelevent, since it's farly well known that he's been working with the Iranian government to produce nuclear power, and, according to US intel, nuclear missiles (which are a decade away) and wished to help his allies in the south."
Da end is nigh: The series finale of The Sopranos will air on HBO Sunday night, ending almost a decade of postmodern Mafia intrigue on television. The burning questions are: How will Tony bite the big one, and what loose ends will be tied up in both his families?
Victor Lana at Blogcritics Magazine says if Tony gets whacked, it should go down like this: "Since the opening credits start with Tony's point of view in the car coming into New Jersey from New York, I always thought that the last scene could be of Tony at the toll booth going the other way. As he takes his receipt Phil's men jump out from behind the booth and shoot him into the next world like Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. This would be perhaps the most fitting (and satisfying) way for him to go, just like Melville's Ahab meeting his end with the whale of his obsession."
Flip at Suitably Flip has the arrivederci all planned: "Final scene: Tony stepping out the door of a cookie-cutter, modest suburban home somewhere in the interior west, bending down and picking up the paper. If I recall correctly, that's just about how the final scene in Goodfellas went and that act has become such an iconic Sopranos visual that I think the symmetry of it is too much for them to pass up."
Christian C at NoiseBlog has one wish this weekend: "[T]hat Tony Soprano lives to eat his cereal on Monday morning. After seven years of watching Tony Soprano and the boys eat pasta and run roughshod over northern New Jersey, I finally get to see the show end. I have a few predictions: I think Paulie Walnuts turns out to be in collusion with Phil in New York; and I think Carmela will probably die. Hopefully, something will happen to A.J. because he must be the weakest character in any mafia-related movie or show since Fredo Corleone took one in the dome on the lake."
At The Sopranos Finale Prediction, we're told: "Patsy Parisi is going to try to kill Tony. He botched the Phil Leotardo hit, and "escaped" the Silvio hit. I watched the Silvio hit a few times hoping to see evidence that the NY gunman were not shooting at Patsy. Kind of seemed like they were shooting at him actually. So what? I'm still sticking to this theory. At the start of the scene Silvio seems pissed about Patsy's driving, he wants him to hurry up, then Patsy kind of surrenders the car when he could have rammed the NY gunman."
Read more Sopranos finale predictions.