DIPLOMACY: A little Stink About a Lot of Fish

A superpower confrontation took place on the high seas last week. Ironically, it showed that U.S.-Soviet relations are not quite as strained as some of the hand-wringing post-mortems over the Russian rejection of new U.S. SALT proposals might suggest. American Coast Guardsmen boarded and seized two Russian fishing vessels—an encounter that gave both countries plenty of opportunity for belligerent muscle flexing. Neither jumped at the opportunity.

The incident began when the Coast Guard cutter Decisive ordered the Taras Shevchenko to heave to in waters about 130 miles southeast of Nantucket Island,...

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