Emeritus Russia Scholar at Princeton: Obama, US are ‘Testing, Provoking Russia’, Pushing towards Hot War

Points from interview with Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University:

“The US in its history has never put troops so close to Russia, going back to the eighteenth century.”  (Okay, this is factually incorrect; the US invaded Russia with some 13,000 troops in 1918.)  Now the US is “right on Russia’s borders. … Obama cannot hide from this one in the shadows as he sometimes does regarding foreign policy.  This is his decision” and now “NATO is going to quadruple its military power around Russia.”

“The new Cold War has become much hotter because of a decision taken in Washington” and is “more dangerous than the preceding Cold War”.

Saying the new Cold War is “solely due to Putin’s ‘aggression'” is “simply not true.  At a minimum, both sides were responsible”, and in fact, as Cohen details, the US is the aggressor (which makes sense, as it has been expanding militarily since its inception, and is by far the largest military force in the world.)

On the US/NATO using Turkey to ignite the hot war: “We do know, I think, one thing: that for whatever reason, possibly because of its lucrative bootleg relations with the Islamic State, mainly involving oil, Turkey is trying to provoke a military conflict with Russia on the assumption that that would bring NATO directly in against Russia. … on the surface, there is no other explanation … NATO can tell Turkey to knock this off, but it goes on”; Washington doesn’t stop it, just as it does not, as Dr. Prashad points out, invoke the NATO charter to force Turkey to close its border to stop relations with ISIS.

“What’s going on at the moment” in terms of Turkey, Syria, and NATO’s expansion, is the US “testing Russia… provoking Russia… awaiting Russia’s reaction.”

Russia’s reaction so far is talk of “fortify[ing] its Western border.”

In the West, “all this is blamed on Russian aggression. But who’s the aggressor here?  Russia didn’t move its military equipment toward NATO.  NATO moved its toward Russia.  So I would say what you have here is a proactive NATO/American policy against Russia and a highly predictable reactive policy on the part of Russia.

In Ukraine, “the provocations and the initial punch came from the West, and Putin reacted in a way that Yelstin could not have or would not have, but Putin is Putin.”

Cohen says we are now at the most dangerous nuclear moment since the nuclear crisis of the early 1960s, and “Obama cannot hide from this now.  All his silences and his ellipses and his vanishing moment… this is his decision.  The buck stops there.  He signed off on this, and it is an enormous escalation of the Cold War in the direction of hot war.”

Perhaps the most notable statement of the interview comes at the end, when Cohen points out:

“Not one question about it has been raised in all this multitude of presidential debates.  … You and I tonight have talked about something that is unknown to the American public.”

How’s that for a propaganda system?

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry.  Updates on Twitter.  Author’s review of the historical background to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

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  • Nexusfast123

    Only a bunch on unenlightened morons would push Russia to war. Commentary about Russia from fools like this are worthless.

  • wunsacon

    Look at the items in the federal budget published online and ask yourself whether the defense budget — after you count not just a good chuck of the DOE but bits of other agencies as well — is larger than $610b.

    IMO, that chart understates our spending.

    And then there are “unknown unknowns” that we can only speculate about.

    • tom

      I came to the conclusion, some time ago, that 1$ trillion is a reasonable estimate for the US military and “security” budgets. I refuse to call it “defence”, because it has nothing at all to do with defence. Frankly, the USA hardly needs defending. Little has changed since 1910, when Jules Jusserand, French Ambassador to the USA, remarked that:

      “The United States was blessed among nations. On the north, she had a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east, fish; and on the west, fish”.

      Admittedly, every nation on earth is now vulnerable to attack by ICBMs and, to some extent, cruise missiles. However the only valid defence against that would be a missile shield; and there is a very strong argument that the best defence is to have no defence and rely on the doctrine of MAD.

      • unheilig

        Indeed. Add all the dark pools and slush funds, the sums spent on “contractors”, the bribes … probably considerably more than $1t.

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    The map is fascinating, even if taken at face value. Australia, for example: 25 billion defending … what exactly? Minerals that nobody wants, desert that nobody wants, Aboriginals that the establishment would prefer to see exterminated, surfing beaches, and the other 24 billion spent on keeping refugees out.