July 7, 2015
Rethinking Russia: A Conversation With Russia Scholar Stephen F. Cohen
By Dan Kovalik
Last week I had the honor of interviewing Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton University, where for many years he was director of its Russian Studies program. Professor Cohen, a long-time friend of Mikhail Gorbachev, is one of the most important Russia scholars in the world and a member of the founding board of directors of the American Committee for East-West Accord, a pro-detente organization that seeks rethinking and public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia.
Despite his impressive credentials and intimate knowledge of Russia and its history, you will rarely hear Cohen's voice in the mainstream press. And it is not for a lack of trying; his views, and those of others like him, are simply shut out of the media, which, along with almost every U.S. politician, has decided to vilify Russian and Putin, irrationally equating Putin with such tyrants as Adolf Hitler. As Cohen explains:
Even Henry Kissinger -- I think it was in March 2014 in the Washington Post -- wrote this line: "The demonization of Putin is not a policy. It's an alibi for not having a policy." And then I wrote in reply to that: That's right, but it's much worse than that, because it's also that the demonization of Putin is an obstacle to thinking rationally, having a rational discourse or debate about American national security. And it's not just this catastrophe in Ukraine and the new Cold War; it's from there to Syria to Afghanistan, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to fighting global terrorism. The demonization of Putin excludes a partner in the Kremlin that the U.S. needs, no matter who sits there.