“Russia Is Preparing For Hot War”
Stephen Cohen and Abby Martin,
ABBY MARTIN: While many in power recklessly escalate tensions with Russia, there is very little discussion of the geo-political significance of this aggression and the dangerous consequences people could suffer as a result. The establishment’s anti-Russian sentiment goes beyond allegations of election hacking, with the leading US intelligence officials labelling Russia as the number one existential threat to the United States. One of the foremost experts on US-Russia relations is sounding the alarm that the potential for nuclear confrontation is greater than ever before, fueled with virtually no debate by the mass media. Dr. Stephen Cohen is one of the leading scholars on Russia. He’s Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies at Princeton and New York University and is the author of many books on the subject, including: “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, from Stalinism to the new Cold War,” and the forthcoming book, “Why Cold War Again? How America lost Post-Soviet Russia.”
The Department of Defense has just declared Russia as the number one existential threat facing this country. Professor, it seems so interesting that we just came from a War on Terror to now a War on Russia, despite the rise of ISIS.
STEPHEN COHEN: Right, well they didn’t just do this. I mean, this business, that Russia is the number one existential treat has been unfolding this drama, this false drama at the expense of our national security, maybe for a decade. But it certainly intensified under the Obama Administration because you had the American commander of NATO, the Joint Chiefs of Staff here all saying, “Number one existential treat.” Meanwhile, Russia was of course, in the person of Putin, repeatedly almost begging the United States to join it in an alliance against terrorism, not only in Syria but a kind of global war. I don’t know if a global war against terrorism is possible. That’s a separate issue.
ABBY MARTIN: Uh huh.
STEPHEN COHEN: But Russia wanted to partner with the United States. Obama was inclined very briefly in September, 2016, I think. But that was killed by our Department of Defense when they attacked those Syrian troops. And so Russia’s been made the number one existential threat. I think that folly because certainly it’s not even on the list of the top five or ten, in my judgement of what really threatens us, has become linked inextricably with this wild demonization of Putin personally. Because it’s the demonization of Putin as a man who assassinates his enemies, who invades countries, who is a… I mean, now in 2017, we’re being told that his alleged hacking of the American election was only part of his plan to destroy democracies around the world, and now he’s going for Europe. I mean, it has really become right up there with the former Soviet threat, but now it’s personified in Putin. It’s this loathing for or demonizing or vilifying of Putin as a leader, as a person, which shades occasionally into Russia-phobia, transferring this … But not that often into vilification of Russia. I think that’s really behind this notion that this is our number one threat. And by the way, it’s not only to the United States, as I said, they’re now talking about the 2017 elections in Europe, and Putin will probably hack those too. I mean, it’s just… there’s no facts or logic to any of this. It’s taken on a life of its own. So, we’ve got Senate Hearings and Obama’s threatened some covert action against Russia, which is very dangerous, because the Kremlin regards this as a declaration of war.
ABBY MARTIN: Oh, absolutely.
STEPHEN COHEN: We don’t know is he going to attack banks or nuclear command and control. I mean, you just don’t do things like this when both sides have got bad nerves and nuclear weapons.
ABBY MARTIN: But the military intelligence community certainly understands. Why this deflection, why this misdirection? It’s a potentially dangerous tinder box.
STEPHEN COHEN: I’ve been around long enough to observe and I’ve had enough former students go to work for intelligence communities, and I can remember what happened involving the intelligence communities regarding the Bay of Pigs, when Kennedy was so angry at the bad information they gave him. He said he’d like to break them up. I can remember the bogus information they gave Johnson about the so-called Tunt-Ken(?) Resolution, that dragged us deeper into Vietnam. I can remember Iran Gate scandals witch the CIA was behind under Reagan. We all mention the bad information intelligence gave about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. There’s a long history of wrong intelligence, so let’s deconstruct that. It’s politicized intelligence. So, there is no as far as I know no “the intelligence community”. There’s not even a “the CIA”. There are groups, different political impulses, different vested interests in these organizations and often they’ve been at war among themselves within say the CIA. We know this.
ABBY MARTIN: Uh huh.
STEPHEN COHEN: It’s a fact. I think we’re seeing that now with the hacking allegations. And in all likelihood later we will discover this was a war within the CIA itself. I mean, the FBI tried not to get involved. It said, “We don’t know.” But it got dragged into it.
ABBY MARTIN: Uh huh. Uh huh.
STEPHEN COHEN: So, now your question, what do they really know? I know as close as I can say for a fact, and since we don’t seem to do facts in America anymore, when it comes to Russia we should be careful — that there are very different views about Washington’s policy towards Russia inside the intelligence community. I don’t want to be hyperbolic but to me, this may be the single-most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations. The Cuban Missile Crisis is always said to have been the turning point in our awareness of how dangerous the Cold War was, and that after we avoided nuclear Armageddon over Khrushchev having put missiles or at least the silos in Cuba and then backed down in light of Kennedy’s leadership, that both side became wise. And the Cold War continued but there was a code of conduct. Everybody understood where the danger lines were and that never again did we advertently at least, there were some near misses accidently when radars indicated a nuclear attack and there was none. It was a large seagull or something. We all live at the mercy of this technology. And that was true though for… until Gorbachev and Reagan thought they had ended the Cold War… thought they had ended the Cold war. There was a code of conduct between the Soviet Union and the United States. That doesn’t exist today.
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