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The Nation

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It is imperative to focus on the essential reason Americans must unequivocally oppose the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
It is imperative to focus on the essential reason Americans must unequivocally oppose the US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. There are, of course, many reasons–the five-week campaign having utterly failed in all of its declared purposes. But for all its other failings, the US-led bombing must be opposed first and foremost because it is a... Read More
A baccalaureate should be an occasion to celebrate the present and express optimism about the future, but I must come to you today with very bad news about Russia, my subject of study, and therefore with great alarm about the future. If America’s post-cold war triumphalism has led you to believe we are now safer... Read More
The monstrous events of September 11 have given the United States a second historic chance, after the squandered...
The monstrous events of September 11 have given the United States a second historic chance, after the squandered opportunity of the 1990s, to establish a truly cooperative relationship with post-Communist Russia. Such a relationship is essential for coping with today’s real security dangers, which exceed those of the cold war and make the United States... Read More
Barely six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin became the Bush Administration’s most valuable ally in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, the promise of a historic US-Russian partnership is being squandered. Indeed, this second chance to establish a truly cooperative relationship with post-Communist Russia–after the lost opportunity of the 1990s–is being gravely endangered by... Read More
The Bush Administration and its cheerleaders in the media are claiming that the “remarkable success” of the US war in Iraq proves its opponents were “spectacularly wrong”–even, some charge, unpatriotic. Intimidated by these allegations and the demonstration of overwhelming American military power, many critics of the war are falling silent. Indeed, the chairman of the... Read More
This article is an expanded version of Stephen F. Cohen's commentary in the May 5 issue.
Ever since the main military campaign ended in mid-April, the Bush Administration and its cheerleaders in the media have claimed that “the remarkable success” of the US war in Iraq proves its opponents were “spectacularly wrong”–even, some charge, unpatriotic. (Quoting a Washington “humorist,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gloated, “Never have so many been so... Read More
The arrest last month of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the principal owner of Russia's biggest oil company, Yukos, and the...
The arrest last month of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the principal owner of Russia’s biggest oil company, Yukos, and the richest of the country’s seventeen state-anointed billionaire oligarchs, on charges of fraud and tax evasion has put Russia back in the forefront of US media attention. But is the story being reported the full, or essential, one?... Read More
Ukraine's election was a call to arms.
Thirteen years after the end of the Soviet Union, the American press establishment seemed eager to turn Ukraine’s protested presidential election on November 21 into a new cold war with Russia. Still worse, its greatest enthusiasts were not the usual Russophobes but influential opinion-makers and publications reputed to be exemplars of balanced, moderate, even liberal,... Read More
UKRAINE'S POLL: 'THE REAL STORY' New York City
Re The Nation‘s coverage of the elections in Ukraine and Stephen F. Cohen’s “The Media’s New Cold War” [Jan. 31]: While I share Cohen’s concerns about the manipulation of the story by ideological pundits and their eagerness to turn the elections into a revival of cold war rivalry between Russia and America, I fear he... Read More
The most important event of the late twentieth century began twenty years ago this month.
The most important event of the late twentieth century began twenty years ago this month. On March 11, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union, and within a few weeks the full-scale reformation he attempted to carry out both inside his country and in its cold war relations with the West, particularly the... Read More
The unfolding conflict over US plans to build missile defense components near post-Soviet Russia, in Poland and the...
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article–originally published in the July 10, 2006, issue of The Nation–appears with a new introduction by the author restating his analyses and arguments in the context of recent developments. Two reactions to this article were particularly noteworthy when it first appeared in The Nation almost exactly one year ago. Judging by activity... Read More
The cold war never really ended: Russia's continuing instability and weapons of mass destruction, combined with...
The collapse of the Soviet Union was far from inevitable: A historic opportunity to democratize and marketize Russia by...
The most consequential event of the second half of the twentieth century took place surreptitiously fifteen years ago at a secluded hunting lodge in the Belovezh Forest near Minsk. On December 8, 1991, heads of three of the Soviet Union’s fifteen republics, led by Boris Yeltsin of Russia, met there to sign documents abolishing that... Read More
After four years of war, complete withdrawal from Iraq is the only way to redeem our nation for the death and...
Unless the United States withdraws its military forces from Iraq in the near future, a war that began as an unnecessary invasion based on deception and predictably grew into a disastrous occupation will go down in history as a terrible crime, if it hasn’t already. For Americans of conscience, Iraq has therefore become the paramount... Read More
Why aren't the presidential candidates talking about Moscow's impact on our national security?
None of the remaining presidential candidates have seriously addressed, or even seem fully aware of, what should be our greatest foreign policy concern–Russia’s singular capacity to endanger or enhance our national security. Overshadowed by the US disaster in Iraq, Moscow’s importance will continue long after that war ends. Despite its diminished status following the Soviet... Read More
Overshadowed by the US disaster in Iraq, Moscow's impact on our foreign policy will continue long after that war ends....
Neither of the two major American presidential candidates has seriously addressed, or even seems fully aware of, what should be our greatest foreign policy concern–Russia’s singular capacity to endanger or enhance our national security. Overshadowed by the US disaster in Iraq, Moscow’s importance will continue long after that war ends. Despite its diminished status following... Read More
The freeing of the "zeks" confronted Russia with living memories of the Terror.
This essay is adapted from a much longer version in a volume in honor of Robert Conquest, Political Violence, edited by Paul Hollander and to be published in November by Palgrave Macmillan. The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past. –William Faulkner Faulkner was right, and not only about America. Russia’s new... Read More
A wide-ranging Nation interview with the former Soviet president.
On September 23, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and her husband, Stephen F. Cohen, a contributing editor, interviewed former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at his foundation in Moscow. With the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaching, we believed that the leader most responsible for that historic event should be heard, on... Read More
Obama’s celebrated “reset” of US-Russia relations is limited and unstable. A fundamental transformation requires...
This article is adapted from the new epilogue for the paperback edition of Stephen F. Cohen’s book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, which will be published by Columbia University Press in July. An enduring existential reality has been lost in Washington’s post–cold war illusions and the fog of... Read More
I may have been delusional about my golf game, but not about Frank Beard's.
If heroes inspire you to do—or, as in my case, not do—something, in sports mine was a teenage golfer named Frank Beard. Our chance encounter at a tournament in Paducah, Kentucky, in the mid-1950s, when we were about 16, changed, in the sport’s idiom, my life’s trajectory. Later, my Russian friends insisted, in their idiom,... Read More
Twenty years later, questions endure about how and why the nation abruptly dissolved.
This essay is an expanded version of an article that appeared in The Nation on the fifteenth anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union. Asked to evaluate the French Revolution nearly 200 years later, the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was famously reported to have replied, “Too early to say.” Though apocryphal, the long perspective... Read More
Twenty years after the end of the Soviet Union, the relationship features more elements of cold-war conflict than of...
This article was originally posted at HuffingtonPost.com. The United States and Russia are at a potentially fateful crossroads in their relations. Twenty years after the end of the Soviet Union, the relationship features more elements of cold-war conflict than of stable cooperation. Still more, recent developments, including presidential campaigns and other political changes under way... Read More
The vilifying charges levelled at Russia's president by the American media could undermine rational U.S. policy-making.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Reuters. American media coverage of Vladimir Putin, who today began his third term as Russia’s president and 13th year as its leader, has so demonized him that the result may be to endanger U.S. national security. For nearly 10 years, mainstream press reporting, editorials and op-ed articles have... Read More
A book by the famous British historian was not published in Russia because the Moscow publisher discovered too many...
Editor's Note: This article has been updated with an exchange (see end) between Orlando Figes and Stephen Cohen and Peter Reddaway on June 13, 2012. Many Western observers believe that Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime has in effect banned a Russian edition of a widely acclaimed 2007 book by the British historian Orlando Figes, The Whisperers:... Read More
London Re Peter Reddaway and Stephen F. Cohen’s June 11 “Dishonoring Stalin’s Victims,” about my 2007 book The Whisperers: in a book as large and complex as The Whisperers unintended errors are not unusual. Normally they are dealt with by a writer and his publisher without the intervention of the press or other academics given... Read More
Obama’s “reset” of relations was in trouble a year ago. Now, with the conflict over Syria, things have only gotten...
For the American political and media establishment, US-Russian relations always begin yesterday—without the pre-history of the relationship and thus without its essential political context. Of this we now have a new and increasingly dangerous example. As Washington and Moscow sink deeper into another familiar cold war–like conflict, this time over Syria, American policy-makers and commentators,... Read More
The anti-Russia bill violates the rule of law, contradicts American values and undermines US national security.
The “Magnitsky Act,” which was passed with few dissenting votes by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama last week, is being hailed by Congress and the US media as an important step in the cause of human rights and democracy. The law is directed specifically at Russian officials suspected of being responsible... Read More
Obama, Congress and the media continue their dangerous, one-dimensional approach.
With the full support of a feckless policy elite and an uncritical media establishment, Washington is slipping, if not plunging, into a new cold war with Moscow. Relations, already deeply chilled by fundamental disputes over missile defense, the Middle East and Russia’s internal politics, have now been further poisoned by two conflicts reminiscent of tit-for-tat... Read More
The president should stem growing tensions with Russia to earn its cooperation in combating terrorism and nuclear...
Editor’s Note: This excerpt is cross-posted from the Washington Post. Read the full text of Cohen's column here. The domestic problems facing President Obama have obscured an equally grave crisis: the unfolding Cold War-like relationship between Washington and Moscow. The recent spate of punitive legislation and abrogated agreements on both sides reflects a larger, and... Read More
From his release from a Gulag in 1953 to his death in Moscow this week, Anton had one mission: ‘To unmask Stalin, his...
Editor’s Note: A version of this will be published in the Moscow opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta. One of the last and irrepressible truth-tellers about the Stalin era, who themselves experienced the horror of those years, has died. Having lost both his mother and father in the 1930s, in the tyrant’s prisons of torture and execution,... Read More
Now we know: a diplomatic solution is possible.
By claiming for weeks that “doing nothing” is the only alternative to a “limited” military response to the Assad regime’s reported use of chemical weapons in Syria—plainly stated, an illegal American war against a nation that has not threatened the United States—the Obama administration has continued Washington’s post–Cold War disdain for diplomatic solutions to international... Read More
A diplomatic solution is possible.
By claiming for weeks that “doing nothing” is the only alternative to a “limited” military response to the Assad regime’s reported use of chemical weapons in Syria—plainly stated, an illegal American war against a nation that has not threatened the United States—the Obama administration has continued Washington’s post–Cold War disdain for diplomatic solutions to international... Read More
Stephen F. Cohen went on CNN to talk about the opportunity Putin is giving the USA.
Nation writer Stephen F. Cohen went on CNN Saturday to discuss how Russian President Vladimir V. Putin "has given President Obama the chance to be an international statesman." He said Obama should so-operate with the Russians on disarming Syrian chemical weapons, and that Russian and US national interests in the Middle East are aligned. He... Read More
Putin-bashing on the left and the right must stop in the interest of US national security.
Instead of embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to save Washington from another disastrous war—his plan would put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and destroy them—influential segments of the American political-media establishment are bent on discrediting him and thus in effect the alternative to war he represents. Still worse, purportedly liberal and progressive voices... Read More
The Weekly Standard's assault on my article is a quintessential example of cold-war thinking and debased discourse.
Though recklessly indifferent to America's vital interests, the September 30 issue of The Weekly Standard made my day. Its scurrilous response to my article "Demonizing Putin Endangers America's Security," posted on thenation.com on September 16, amply illustrates my longstanding argument that the US-Russian cold war is on again—or never ended—especially in the American political-media establishment.... Read More
Questions from Novaya Gazeta on the Soviet Union, segregation and Russia today.
Contrary to general impressions in the West, several Russian newspapers are politically independent, irreverent and lively. They also vary in content, initiating new features to appeal to their specific readerships. One of the most innovative is the democratic opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta (The New Gazette), edited by Dmitri Muratov, and which includes former Soviet President... Read More
The Grey Lady’s recent editorial on Ukraine and Vladimir Putin was one-dimensional and ideological.
On November 20, The New York Times published an editorial urging—or perhaps warning—Ukraine to resist "Moscow's bullying" and sign an association agreement with the European Union. The editorial was in the spirit of virtually all US media coverage of Ukraine's "strategic decision" and "civilizational choice"—its last chance for democracy and economic prosperity and the West's... Read More
How the American media misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine.
The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines—particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin—is an indication, this media malpractice... Read More
In the name of ‘democracy,’ the West has unrelentingly moved its military, political and economic power ever closer...
The East-West confrontation over Ukraine, which led to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea but long predated it, is potentially the worst international crisis in more than fifty years—and the most fateful. A negotiated resolution is possible, but time may be running out. A new Cold War divide is already descending in Europe—not in Berlin but on... Read More
The East-West confrontation over Ukraine, which led to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea but long predated it, is potentially the worst international crisis in more than fifty years—and the most fateful. A negotiated resolution is possible, but time may be running out. A new Cold War divide is already descending in Europe—not in Berlin but on... Read More
As the conflict escalates, so too does the possibility of a military confrontation between the United States–NATO and...
Russia scholar and longtime Nation contributor Stephen Cohen joins John Batchelor to discuss the deepening crisis in Ukraine. He says that as the conflict escalates, so too does the possibility of a military confrontation between the United States–NATO and Russia: “It’s hard to imagine a civil war in Ukraine without the United States and NATO... Read More
Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen appeared on Democracy Now on Thursday, criticizing Obama and NATO for provoking...
“For the first time in my lifetime, since the Cuban missile crisis, hot war with Russia is imaginable,” Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman on Thursday. Cohen, a Russia historian and expert on US-Russia relations, slammed the Obama administration for suggesting that the crisis in Ukraine was exclusively due to “Putin’s... Read More
The Nation’s Stephen Cohen theorizes about President Putin’s motivations in Ukraine on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
What is Vladimir Putin’s plan in Ukraine? This key question has reverberated around newsrooms in the weeks since Russia officially annexed Crimea in late March. According to Nation contributor and Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Putin’s political thinking is profoundly influenced by “the moment he came to power, with Russia... Read More
“It would be a mistake to think that the diplomats who sat down in Geneva this week control the situation,” says...
A meeting of senior diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union concluded last week in Geneva with a one-page agreement requiring all sides to disarm and vacate occupied buildings and public squares. This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. But, as Stephen Cohen cautions, “it would be a mistake... Read More
As the Obama administration increasingly embraces a Cold War mentality in its dealings with Putin's Russa, Nation...
“It is one hand—the hand of war—clapping,” said Nation contributing editor and Russia historian Stephen Cohen during an appearance on the John Batchelor Show Tuesday. With US troops headed to the Baltic states, Cold War rhetoric spewing from the mouths of US officials, and Obama effectively abandoning Vladimir Putin as a negotiating partner, Cohen suggests... Read More
Stephen Cohen discusses President Obama’s revived policy of containment against Russia on The Thom Hartmann Program.
The New York Times reported last week that President Obama and his national security team are forging “a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment.” Hawks in the State and Defense Departments are pushing for more comprehensive sanctions and the White House has already drafted... Read More
City Power! As a progressive city councilor in the second-largest city in Oregon, I found Michelle Goldberg’s “Power to the City” [April 21] especially timely. Eugene is a midsize city at the epicenter of a county that suffers from chronic lower-than-average wages alongside relatively high housing costs, leaving many working families struggling in near-poverty. In... Read More
The new cold war with Russia may create a real war in Ukraine.
“We’re losing Russia, we’re creating a new cold war, we’re rushing toward hot war,” is how Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen summed up the effect of current US foreign policy in Ukraine and Russia. Appearing on the John Batchelor Show to discuss his latest piece for The Nation, co-written with editor and publisher Katrina vanden... Read More
The Obama administration’s decision to isolate Russia, in a new version of “containment,” has met with virtually...
A situation that would draw Russia and NATO into a hot conflict.
Is Putin withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine for fear of sanctions, or civil war? Stephen Cohen thinks it’s the latter, and that Putin “is convinced that we are a couple spits from civil war in Ukraine,” which could draw in NATO and Russia. Cohen joined Angela Stent of Georgetown University on PBS NewsHour... Read More