Podcast of John Batchelor Show
Summary of Broadcast Produced by Yvonne Lorenzo:
As the New Cold War gathers up speed and escalates, we are entering a “fact free world” as allegations are made that are proved not to be true are promoted; for example, the allegation that the DNC was hacked by Russia has been officially debunked—no one could name the seventeen intelligence agencies, the Coast Guard was one. The notion of the hacking was cooked up by two agencies: by the DNI’s head James Clapper and Brennan at the CIA. Nevertheless, recently News Anchor Chuck Todd of NBC (the most pro-Russiagate network, the ones who shamelessly accused presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of being a Russian asset) took it one step further: ignoring the facts, Todd again stated that seventeen intelligence agencies agreed that the Russians not only interfered in the election but that they swung the election to Trump. While interference is one thing, no one has previously made that allegation. Consequently, we are now in a fact free discourse in America: no evidence is necessary to prove anything, falsehoods are taken up by the legacy media, what Professor Cohen would call a world of tabloid gossip media, except in their favor the tabloids, fearing lawsuits, will do some fact checking, which is conspicuous in its absence in the legacy media. And Professor Cohen noted that it’s hard to get traction and you can’t have a conversation with someone when you don’t agree upon the facts.
In conversation on a cruise with fellow liberals, Professor Cohen noted most take the view that where there is smoke there is fire and there is something to these allegations of Russiagate and Putin’s control over Trump; they state the media wouldn’t continue to promote these conspiracy theories, these allegations about Trump’s nefarious relations with the Kremlin, without reason and so there must be something to them. Yet while facts have become absolutely critical Cohen notes you can’t get people to focus on the facts; for that reason, he feels despair and observes that for the first time in his life in his public discussions of Russia there are no basic premises that people accept any more, for if you say “If there’s smoke, there’s fire,” that is just not a logical way of thinking: you either have the facts or you don’t.
Batchelor also points out in the impeachment charges there is a great deal of presumption; there are no facts regarding the president as well, and he cites Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi and poses this question: what does the Kremlin think about the impeachment?
Cohen answers that the Russian high policy class in the 1990s—the America worship period—they and not just the youth, strongly believed that Russia’s future was with the West and America in particular, and now what strikes Russians most is the role of Russian intelligence services in the Western allegations. Pro-America Russians thought that American intelligence services didn’t play the role that the Soviet ones did. In Russian history classes and as a staple of popular culture, the sinister role of the “secret police” goes back to the Czarist era but what distinguished America was that it didn’t have anything comparable in abuses by its intelligence services—or so it was believed. Consequently, for those who looked up to America, it’s a source of disillusion and shock to learn that the American special services “went off the reservation” for quite a long time, not unlike Russia’s, and so they have become disillusioned while for those who tried to get Russians to be more nationalistic, their perspective is to say with gratification, “We told you so. Now will you please grow up!”
Russians call the American agencies “the organs” perhaps not being clear on the difference between the CIA and the FBI and conflating them. For Russians, the role of such agencies is baked into the culture and this has resulted in rethinking not only about America but about their own special services. An Op-Ed piece in a Russian liberal newspaper the Russian liberal author wrote, after watching what’s unfolding in America, we used to beat up on our intelligence services for decades but now maybe we need them. Contrary to a “cult of the intelligence services,” Cohen thinks what must be determined is the role of the American intelligence services in creating Russiagate from the very beginning.
Yet what is critical is to know how Russiagate began in America, with the Barr-Durham probe into the origins of Russia and Russiagate will continue to be a major issue in the 2020 election. What struck Cohen about the letter from Trump to Pelosi—which was so eloquent he doubts Trump wrote it—was that he understands it will be an issue in the 2020 elections, and it was a campaign document. That aside, Trump is aware that Democrats are campaigning still on Russiagate; nothing has turned up that it factual. Therefore, despite the absence of facts, this will be a major issue. Ukraine has turned into a stand-in for Russia.
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, once a quintessential conservative, published an article titled “Time to Call out and Remove Putin’s Propagandist in America.” While the article is slightly cagier than that headline, essentially she wants to shutdown and deprive access to media who aren’t espousing and promoting the Russiagate/Russophobic narratives. Cohen condemns that kind of behavior is that. On opposite side of Rubin, Cohen stated he himself has never advocated the silencing and removal of those who promote among other falsehoods the provably false Russiagate narrative. He asks where are things drifting and he answers discourse and relations are becoming ugly and awful.
Returning to the past, he notes there was an assumption that Russia under Yeltsin would emerge as a replica and junior partner of America; Cohen believes those who promote the Russiagate narrative and demonize Trump because their “impossible dream” failed—Russia is too old, too vast to ever be a replica of America. What took Professor Cohen aback in the testimony from Fiona Hill and others was how deep and wide the Russophobia runs in the Washington think tanks. Until she spoke and testified he had no idea how much she—and the other Russia experts—hate Russia.
Batchelor noted this is the language of civil war in Trump’s letter; Trump uses the term “Star Chamber of partisan persecution” and “coup” which are the language of a country torn in half and he asked the question whether the weakening of the civil contract to be an advantage to Putin and Russia. Cohen notes every newspaper and media source in America say Putin is delighted since it is his goal is to foment disarray in America.
The fact is, however, this chaos and dysfunction and enmity is one of the last things Putin wants. Putin’s purpose is to rebuild Russia from the economic and political catastrophes of the 1990s; Putin’s role is to reverse the demographic trend—men died in their fifties in the 1990s—and spend funds on modernization; that would be his legacy. Four hundred billion dollars has been saved to implement the modernization program. That attempt would be taken with modernizing partnerships with the West. Therefore, the last thing he wants is a new Cold War; the last thing he wants is political turmoil in America or in any Western nation. Cohen points out President Macron of France appears to understand that; he called for a rethinking of relations and said there could be no European security without Russia. Macron has broken with Washington and there will be a hell of fight because Washington is against it. But the notion that Putin wants to disrupt American society is wrong; Putin wants stability and partners.
Cohen still thinks that leadership—the new President of Ukraine, Trump and Putin—could make a difference.