Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Top Russia Scholar Gives US Media, Politicos, a Public Spanking: LONG Interview (Cohen)

  • A blistering, lengthy interview in in which Princeton's Stephen Cohen pulls out all the stops and fires broadside after broadside at US Russia policy and how the mainstream media has dealt with it.
  • Bravo.  We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
MORE: Ukraine

Extraordinary, long interview with Stephen Cohen.  5700 words, with Part 2 coming next week.  Cohen takes no prisoners, covers all the bases, and does not mince words.  

He slices Tim Snyder of Yale, (who accused Cohen of being a Putin apologist) wondering how he can call himself a professor, dices Joe Biden and Boris Yeltsin, and then fricasses Brzezinski , Samantha Power, Victoria Nuland, Paul Wolfowitz, Strobe Talbott, and Fred Hiatt at the Washington Post, comparing the latter two to jilted husbands.  

<figcaption>It's well-deserved</figcaption>
It's well-deserved

He says current US Russia policy reminds him of the behavior of heroin addicts, says George Bush Jr. was a liar (about the Iraq war), calls Obama a "shrinking failure", says the NATO expansion argument is "crazy", compares it to the AARP, - golly, and this is only the first half.

He rails against American hypocrisy, a lack of a serious debate in the US, and war crimes aided and abetted by Washington, rightly calling them "shameful".

American media is "one hand clapping" and has "apologized for fascism".  He compares American journalists reporting about Ukraine to stenographers for Kiev.

It is not all carnage - he has strong praise for Russia scholars George Kennan, Jack Matlock, Isaiah Berlin.

We tried to pull out some good quotes, but honestly, it was hard to do, because the whole thing is one long, well deserved tirade.  Lively reading from start to finish - we highly recommend taking the time for the whole thing.

Now this brings us to an observation:  One reason Cohen goes on like this is that he has such a ridiculously rich target.  US and EU policy and media have been such fantastic failures on this that one can spend a whole afternoon savaging them, and still be only half way through the mess.

It is a blunder of such epic proportions one strains for historic parallels:  the Vietnam disaster, we suppose; Iraq, well yes, but that is about it.  

And it's not over.  This could beat those two yet unless a responsible adult steps in and disciplines the neo-con media dolts and their true believers in office who wrought this moral and policy outrage.

This whole publication came into existence 6 short months ago because the need to point out the nonsense was so urgent, the target so rich, the hypocrisy and stupidity so rank.  

The public spanking is not going to stop.  It's going to go on, and more voices will join in, and more people will start paying attention, sparks will fly, and well, we promise one thing, it will be entertaining..., and heads will roll.

As we never tire of pointing out, we're just getting started.

Some choice quotes:

On the media:

... the Times and the Washington Post ... basically re-write whatever the Kiev authorities say ...

... in the past ... the media were open—the New York Times, the Washington Post—to debate. They no longer are. It’s one hand clapping in our major newspapers and in our broadcast networks. 

apologists in the media ... ignored the role of ... ultra-nationalists who looked, smelled and sounded like neo-fascists.

I would be willing to wager ... that there’s less democracy ... in Ukraine ... today than there was before ... that’s a hypothesis ... I think ... the Times and the Post should be exploring.

One phenomenon among Russia-watchers is that you create an artifice, and that’s your Russia. And when it disappoints you, you never forgive ... Check out Fred Hiatt at the Washington Post ... writing from Moscow during the ’90s that democracy was going to be great. So did most the guys who are now were still in editorial positions. Russia let them down.

They can’t forgive Russia anymore than they can the ex-wife who cheated on them.


Ukraine is about NATO-expansion-no-matter-what. Washington can go on about democracy and sovereignty and all the rest, but it’s about that ... The hypocrisy, or the inability to connect the dots in America, is astonishing.

We can’t be children about this. Washington controls the IMF. Washington controls NATO. NATO and the IMF are the two agencies that can make war happen on a broader basis in Ukraine and in regard to Russia, or stop it. 

People say every country that qualifies has a right to join NATO. No, they do not. NATO is not a junior Chamber of Commerce. It’s not a non-selective fraternity or sorority. It’s a security organization, and the only criterion for membership should be, “Does a nation enhance the security of the other member countries?” 

The Ukrainian crisis proves beyond any doubt, being the worst international crisis of our time, that the indiscriminate expansion of NATO has worsened our international security. That’s the end of that story. 

I don’t know what they think NATO is. Is it like AARP (American Association of Retired People) membership and you get discounts in the form of U.S. defense funds? It’s crazy, this argument.

US hypocrisy about fascism in the Ukraine:

“Is there a neo-fascist movement in Ukraine that ... we should be worried about?” The answer is 100% yes. But admitting this in the United States has gotten a 100% no until recently,

German intelligence is ... better than American intelligence when it comes to Ukraine - Merkel’s clearly worried about this. (fascist problem)

When you read the testimony of [Assistant Secretary of State] Nuland, this is never mentioned. But what could be more important than the resurgence of a fascist movement on the European continent? I’m not talking about these sappy fascists who run around the streets in Western Europe. I’m talking about guys with a lot of weapons, guys who have done dastardly things and who have killed people. Does that warrant discussion?

To what degree Russia is involved in East Ukraine:

By saying that this is not a civil war, it’s just Russian aggression—this omits the human dimension of the entire war, and also the agency of the people who are actually fighting in the east—the hairdressers, the taxi drivers, the former newspaper reporters, the school teachers, the garbage men, the electricians, who are probably 90 percent of those fighting. There are Russians there, from Russia. But Ukraine’s army has proved incapable of defeating or even holding off what began as a fairly ragtag, quasi-partisan, ill-equipped, untrained force.

US hypocrisy and guilt regarding war crimes in East Ukraine:

The horror of this has been Kiev’s use of its artillery, mortars and even its airplanes, until recently, to bombard large residential cities, not only Donetsk and Luhansk, but other cities. These are cities of 500,000 ... or 2 million to 3 million. This is against the law. These are war crimes. ...

The United States has been deeply complicit in the destruction of these eastern cities and peoples. When Nuland tells Congress there are 5,000 to 6,000 dead, that’s (not true) . ... German intelligence says 50,000.

Ever since the Clinton administration, we’ve bleated on about the right to protect people who are victims of humanitarian crises. You’ve got a massive humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine. You’ve got 1 million people or more who have fled to Russia - another half a million having fled elsewhere in Ukraine. I don’t notice the United States organizing any big humanitarian effort.

Where is Samantha Power, the architect of “right to protect?” We have shut our eyes to a humanitarian crisis in which we are deeply complicit. This is what’s shameful, whether you like or don’t like Putin. 

The foolishness of demonizing Putin:

There is very little basis for many of the allegations made against Putin, and that the net result was to make rational analysis in Washington on Russian affairs at home and abroad impossible, because it was all filtered through this demonization.

If we didn’t stop, I argued, it was only going to get worse to the point where we would become like heroin addicts at fix time, unable to think about anything except our obsession with Putin. ... This has now happened fully. The article was turned down by the New York Times

It’s preposterous. But the demonization of Putin has become an institution in America. It is literally a political institution that prevents the kind of discussion that you and I are having.


Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!
MORE: Ukraine

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.

Add new comment