Stephen F. Cohen continues to berate Democrats for “demonizing Russia”

Historians in the News
tags: FDR, Russia, Democrats, Trump, Stephen F Cohen



Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics (at NYU and Princeton), and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at TheNation.com.)

In light of recent events, from Washington to the false alerts in Hawaii and Japan, Cohen returns to a theme he has explored previously: the ways in which the still-unproven Russiagate allegations, promoted primarily by the Democratic Party, have become the number-one threat to American national security. Historical context is needed, which returns Cohen briefly to related subjects he has also previously discussed with Batchelor.

This year marks the 70th anniversary in what is usually said to have been the full onset of the long Cold War, in 1948. In fact, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of US-Russian cold wars, which began with the Russian Civil War when, for the next 15 years, Washington refused to formally recognize the victorious Soviet government—surely a very cold relationship, though one without an arms race. The first of several détente policies—attempts to reduce the dangers inherent in cold war by introducing important elements of cooperation—was initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, when he formally extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union, then ruled by Stalin. That is, FDR was the father of détente, a circumstance forgotten or disregarded by many Democrats, especially today.

Three major détentes were pursued later in the 20th century, all by Republican presidents: Eisenhower in the 1950s, Nixon in the 1970s, and by Reagan in the second half of the 1980s, which was so fulsome and successful that he and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, thought they had ended the Cold War altogether.

And yet today, post–Soviet Russia and the United States are in a new and even more dangerous Cold War, one provoked in no small measure by the Democratic Party, from President Clinton’s winner-take-all policies toward Russia in the 1990s to President Obama’s refusal to cooperate significantly with Moscow against international terrorism, particularly in Syria; the role of his administration in the illegal overthrow of Ukrainian President Yanukovych in 2014 (a coup by any name); and the still shadowy role of Obama’s intelligence chiefs, not only those at the FBI, in instigating Russiagate allegations against Donald Trump early in 2016. (Obama’s so-called “reset” of Russia policy was a kind of pseudo-détente and doomed from the outset. It asked of Moscow, and got, far more than the Obama administration offered; was predicated on the assumption that Putin, then prime minister, would not return to the presidency; and was terminated by Obama himself when he broke his promise to his reset partner, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, by overthrowing Libyan leader Gaddafi.) It should also be remembered that the current plan to “modernize” US nuclear weapons by making them smaller, more precise, and thus more “usable” was launched by the Obama administration.

Which brings Cohen to President Trump, who, whether Trump fully understood it or not, sought to be the fourth Republican president to initiate a policy of détente—or “cooperate with Russia”—in times of perilous Cold War. In the past, a “dovish” wing of the Democratic Party supported détente, but not this time. Russiagate allegations, still mostly a Democratic project, have been leveled by leading Democrats and their mainstream media against Trump every time he has tried to develop necessary cooperative agreements with Russian President Putin, characterizing those initiatives as disloyal to America, even “treasonous.” Still more, the same Democratic actors have increasingly suggested that normal “contacts” with Russia at various levels—a practice traditionally encouraged by pro-détente US leaders—are evidence of “collusion with the Kremlin.” (A particularly egregious example is General Michael Flynn’s “contacts” with a Russian ambassador on behalf of President-elect Trump, a long-standing tradition now being criminalized.) Still worse, criticism of US policy toward Russia since the 1990s, which Cohen and a few other Russia specialists have often expressed, is being equated with “colluding” with Putin’s views, as in the case of a few words by Carter Page—that is, also as disloyal. ...

Read entire article at The Nation

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