Posts Tagged ‘Stephen F. Cohen’

Impeachment and the undeclared war with Russia

January 28, 2020

Historian Stephen F. Cohen pointed out in an interview how Rep. Adam Schiff frames the Trump impeachment in terms of the undeclared war with Russia in Ukraine.

President Trump is accused of pausing military aid to Ukraine for personal, political reasons.  Schiff said that undermines the necessary war against Russia “over there” so “we won’t have to fight them over here.”

In fact, what’s going on in Ukraine is a civil war.  An anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalist government, with Nazis in the governing coalition, came to power in a U.S.-backed coup.

Vladimir Putin seized control of Crimea, location of Russia’s main naval base in the region.  Russian-speaking areas in western Ukraine attempted to secede, provoking a civil war.  Putin has helped his fellow Russians defend themselves, but not march on Kiev.

The best solution would be some sort of compromise that would allow residents of the Donblass and Luhansk regions the minimum amount of autonomy and security they need to feel safe.

The best contribution the U.S. government could make is to join with Germany and France to help mediate between Russia and Ukraine.  But I know of no Republican or Democratic leader who supports this.

Of all possible criticisms of Donald Trump, the idea that he is insufficiently warlike makes the least sense.

Trump has canceled an important nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and seems ready to cancel the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (StART) when it come up for renewal in 2021.  This increases the danger of a possible nuclear war with Russia, a much more real possibility than “having to fight them over here.”

The main differences between the Democratic and Republican leaderships is that the one prioritizes military confrontation with Russia and the other prioritizes military confrontation with Iran.

I recommend watching the interview of Prof. Cohen by Aaron Maté on the video above.

Why risk war with Russia over Ukraine?

November 15, 2019

The impeachment hearings are about allegations of President Donald Trump’s interference with the criminal justice system in Ukraine..

How and why did the United States become so deeply involved in Ukraine in the first place?  The video above of an interview of Prof. Stephen F. Cohen, a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, gives a good background of this.

The conflict in Ukraine stems from a U.S. effort to draw Ukraine into an anti-Russian alliance, and from a military coup in 2014 that brought an anti-Russian government to power in Ukraine.

The Russia of Vladimir Putin is not a country I would want to live in.  There are too many unsolved murders of investigative journalists and opposition leaders, too much wealth in the hands of corrupt oligarchs, too much power in the hands of secret intelligence agencies.

But Putin is not paranoid to see a threat to Russia in an American-dominated Ukraine.  Look at a map of the greatest advance of the Nazi armies during World War Two, and then look at a map of a NATO including Ukraine and Georgia and you’ll see why.

President Zelensky of Ukraine is a political unknown who was elected by an overwhelming majority on a promise to seek peace with Russia.  He is hemmed in by his dependence on U.S. aid, and by the anti-Russian faction, including neo-Nazis, in the Ukrainian government.

President Trump wants to be a peacemaker and he also wants to dominate.  But he lacks the knowledge, skill or constancy of purpose to pursue either peace or power effectively.

His foreign policy is incoherent.  He is like a drunkard staggering along a sidewalk, sometimes to in the direction of peace, sometimes in the direction of war.

But when he staggers in the direction of peace, he bumps up against a wall—the war hawks in the Pentagon and CIA and in Congress.  So the likelihood is that he will wind up in the gutter and blunder into war.

The USA and Russia are the main nuclear powers.  Each has the power to totally destroy the other.  I don’t think that President Trump or President Putin desire to go to war, but the present confrontation along Russia’s borderlands creates a danger that it could happen anyway.

LINKS

Ukraine for Dummies by Ray McGovern for Consortium News.  A timeline of recent Ukrainian history.

Why Are We in Ukraine? by Stephen F. Cohen for The Nation.

We’re More at Risk of Nuclear War With Russia Than We Think by George Beebe for POLITICO.

Trump raises five good foreign policy questions

May 24, 2016

donald_trump006_16x9nationalinterestStephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian history at Princeton and NYU and a contributing editor of The Nation, said in a broadcast that Donald Trump is the only major-party candidate who raises certain fundamental and urgent foreign policy questions:

  1. (First) why must the United States lead the world everywhere on the globe and play the role of the world’s policeman, now for example, he says, in Ukraine?  It’s a question.  It’s worth a discussion.
  2. Secondly, he said, NATO was founded 67 years ago to deter the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union ended 25 years ago.  What is NATO’s mission?  Is it obsolete?  Is it fighting terrorism?  No, to the last question, it’s not.  Should we discuss NATO’s mission?
  3. Thirdly, he asks, why does the United States always pursue regime changes?  Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and now it wants a regime change in Syria, Damascus.  When the result is, to use Donald Trump’s favorite word, the result is always “disaster.”  But it’s a reasonable question.
  4. Fourthly, why do we treat Russia and Putin as an enemy when he should be a partner?
  5. Fifth Trump asks, about nuclear weapons – and this is interesting.  You remember he was asked, would he rule out using nuclear weapons – an existential question.  He thought for a while and then he said, “No, I take nothing off the table.”  And everybody said he wants to use nuclear weapons!   In fact, it is the official American nuclear doctrine policy that we do not take first use off the table.  We do not have a no first use of nuclear weapons doctrine.  So all Trump did was state in his own way what has been official American nuclear policy for, I guess, 40 or 50 years.

Source: John V. Walsh | Counterpunch

(more…)