Throughout the long Cold War Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University was a voice of reason. He refused to allow his patriotism to blind him to Washington’s contribution to the confict and to criticize only the Soviet contribution. Cohen’s interest was not to blame the enemy but to work toward a mutual understanding that would remove the threat of nuclear war. Although a Democrat and left-leaning, Cohen would have been at home in the Reagan administration, as Reagan’s first priority was to end the Cold War. I know this because I was part of the effort. Pat Buchanan will tell you the same thing.
In 1974 a notorious cold warrior, Albert Wohlstetter, absurdly accused the CIA of underestimating the Soviet threat. As the CIA had every incentive for reasons of budget and power to overestimate the Soviet threat, and today the “Russian threat,” Wohlstetter’s accusation made no sense on its face. However he succeeded in stirring up enough concern that CIA director George H.W. Bush, later Vice President and President, agreed to a Team B to investigate the CIA’s assessment, headed by the Russiaphobic Harvard professor Richard Pipes. Team B concluded that the Soviets thought they could win a nuclear war and were building the forces with which to attack the US.
The report was mainly nonsense, and it must have have troubled Stephen Cohen to experience the setback to negotiations that Team B caused.
Today Cohen is stressed that it is the United States that thinks it can win a nuclear war. Washington speaks openly of using “low yield” nuclear weapons, and intentionally forecloses any peace negotiations with Russia with a propaganda campaign against Russia of demonization, villification, and transparant lies, while installing missile bases on Russia’s borders and while talking of incorporating former parts of Russia into NATO. In his just published book, War With Russia?, which I highly recommend, Cohen makes a convincing case that Washington is asking for war.
I agree with Cohen that if Russia is a threat it is only because the US is threatening Russia. The stupidity of the policy toward Russia is creating a Russian threat. Putin keeps emphasizing this. To paraphrase Putin: “You are making Russia a threat by declaring us to be one, by discarding facts and substituting orchestrated opinions that your propagandistic media establish as fact via endless repetition.”
Cohen is correct that during the Cold War every US president worked to defuse tensions, especially Republican ones. Since the Clinton regime every US president has worked to create tensions. What explains this dangerous change in approach?
The end of the Cold War was disadvantageous to the military/security complex whose budget and power had waxed from decades of cold war. Suddenly the enemy that had bestowed such wealth and prestige on the military/security complex disappeared.
The New Cold War is the result of the military/security complex’s resurrection of the enemy. In a democracy with independent media and scholars, this would not have been possible. But the Clinton regime permitted in violation of anti-trust laws 90% of the US media to be concentrated in the hands of six mega-corporations, thus destroying an independence already undermined by the CIA’s successful use of the CIA’s media assets to control explanations. Many books have been written about the CIA’s use of the media, including Udo Ulfkotte’s “Bought Journalism,” the English edition of which was quickly withdrawn and burned.
The demonization of Russia is also aided and abeted by the Democrats’ hatred of Trump and anger from Hillary’s loss of the presidential election to the “Trump deplorables.” The Democrats purport to believe that Trump was installed by Putin’s interference in the presidentail election. This false belief is emotionally important to Democrats, and they can’t let go of it.
Although Cohen as a professor at Princeton and NYU never lacked research opportunities, in the US Russian studies, strategic studies, and the like are funded by the military/security complex whose agenda Cohen’s scholarship does not serve. At the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where I held an independently financed chair for a dozen years, most of my colleagues were dependent on grants from the military/security complex. At the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where I was a Senior Fellow for three decades, the anti-Soviet stance of the Institution reflected the agenda of those who funded the institution.
I am not saying that my colleagues were whores on a payroll. I am saying that the people who got the appointments were people who were inclined to see the Soviet Union the way the military/security complex thought it should be seen.
As Stephen Cohen is aware, in the original Cold War there was some balance as all explanations were not controlled. There were independent scholars who could point out that the Soviets, decimated by World War 2, had an interest in peace, and that accommodation could be achieved, thus avoiding the possibility of nuclear war.
Stephen Cohen must have been in the younger ranks of those sensible people, as he and President Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matloff, seem to be the remaining voices of expert reason on the American scene.
If you care to understand the dire threat under which you live, a threat that only a few people, such as Stephen Cohen, are trying to lift, read his book.
If you want to understand the dire threat that a bought-and-paid-for American media poses to your existence, read Cohen’s accounts of their despicable lies. America has a media that is synonymous with lies.
If you want to understand how corrupt American universities are as organizations on the take for money, organizations to whom truth is inconsequential, read Cohen’s book.
If you want to understand why you could be dead before Global Warming can get you, read Cohen’s book.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.