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We Have Lost a Real Giant (Stephen F. Cohen Has Died)!
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Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God
(Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 5:9)

It is with immense sadness that I have to report that Stephen F. Cohen passed away yesterday in his home in Manhattan at the age of 81.

There are a few media outlets who have already reported this. Most of them discuss Stephen F. Cohen’s political ideas and his books, which is normal since he was a historian of the Soviet Union. But I won’t do that here.

What I want to say about Cohen is something very different.

First, he was a man of immense kindness and humility. Second, he was a man of total intellectual honesty. I can’t say that Cohen and I had the same ideas or the same reading of history, though in many cases we did, but here is what I found so beautiful in this man: unlike most of his contemporaries, Cohen was not an ideologue, he did not expect everybody to agree with him, and he himself did not vet people for ideological purity before offering them his friendship.

Even though it is impossible to squeeze a man of such immense intellect and honesty into any one single ideological category, I would say that Stephen Cohen was a REAL liberal, in the original, and noble, meaning of this word.

I also have to mention Stephen Cohen’s immense courage. Yes, I know, Cohen was not deported to GITMO for his ideas, he was not tortured in a CIA secret prison, and he was not rendered to some Third Word country to be tortured there on behalf of the USA. Stephen Cohen had a different kind of courage: the courage to remain true to himself and his ideals even when the world literally covered him in slanderous accusations, the courage to NOT follow his fellow liberals when they turned PSEUDO-liberals and betrayed everything true liberalism stands for. Professor Cohen also completely rejected any forms of tribalism or nationalism, which often made him the target of vicious hatred and slander, especially from his fellow US Jews (he was accused of being, what else, a Putin agent).

Cohen had the courage to take on the entire ruling elites of this country and their messianic supremacist ideology by himself, almost completely alone.

Last, but most certainly not least, Stephen Cohen was a true peacemaker, in the sense of the words of the Holy Gospel I quoted above. He opposed the warmongering nutcases during the Cold War, and he opposed them again when they replaced their rabid hatred of the Soviet Union with an even more rabid hatred of everything Russian.

I won’t claim here that I always agreed with Cohen’s ideas or his reading of history, and I am quite sure that he would not agree with much of what I wrote. But one thing Cohen and I definitely did agree on: the absolute, number one, priority of not allowing a war to happen between the USA and Russia. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Stephen Cohen dedicated his entire life towards this goal.

If the Nobel Peace Prize meant anything, and if it was at least halfway credible, I would say that Stephen Cohen deserved such a Nobel more than anybody else on this planet. Instead, he will get his reward in the Heavens.

In Russian we have an Old Testament inspired saying: “город стоит, пока в нем есть хоть один праведник” roughly meaning “a city will stand as long as there remains even one righteous person inside“. I can’t help it but feel that the “city” of the United States has just lost such a righteous person. Yes, there are still a few righteous people left in this “city”, but we all sure lost one of our best contemporaries.

To my immense regret, I never met Professor Cohen personally. And yet, when I heard the news of this death this morning, I felt truly heartbroken. My main consolation is that Cohen died before November and what will inevitably follow. I believe that God took him away from us to spare him the pain of seeing his country collapse under the repeated attacks of pseudo-liberal neocons.

It is pretty obvious that in our crazy and ugly times, Professor Cohen will not get the recognition and gratitude at home he so much deserves (if only because US pseudo liberals are much too busy bawling about Justice Ginsburg’s death). And while Stephen Cohen is well-known in some Russian circles (he had many friends in Russia), he is hardly a household name for most Russian people. But I am confident that, assuming humanity survives a little longer, Professor Cohen will be recognized as the righteous person he was, both in the USA and in Russia.

Somewhere, I also believe that we, as a society, simply don’t deserve to have such a righteous man amongst us. Cohen is now in much better company.

Thank you, dear Steve, for your kindness and courage. I shall miss you very, very much!

(Republished from Vineyard of the Saker by permission of author or representative)
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  1. KenH says:

    RIP Stephen. You were one of the few voices of reason and sanity regarding Russia and a righteous Jew.

  2. I only discovered him a short while ago, but he always made sense to me. The United States and Russia have no genuine differences that should lead to conflict.

  3. SteveK9 says:

    RIP. A sane man, in an insane World.

  4. i’ve admired him for more than 40yrs. he always was the voice of reason, truth & knowledge. i regret the last 20yrs of his life he was shunned, ridiculed & tossed aside. he was a national treasure. rest in peace, you shall be sorely missed.

  5. Stephen F. Cohen was such an important voice of reason concerning our insane foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no one available to replace this great man. As such, the Doomsday Clock is now, de facto, closer to midnight.

  6. Dr. Charles Fhandrich [AKA "Dr.C. Fhandrich"] says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the tributes and compliments given to Stephen Cohn by the writer of this article. I followed his career and his thoughts for many many years. It did not take long to have me conclude that this was a man of integrity and basic honesty. That is utterly rare in a government official.

  7. Dan Hayes says:

    Like many others, I initially became acquainted with Stephen through the John Batchelor Radio Program. There his reasonableness and good-temper shone forth. The cycle reached fruition when Ron published him in the UR. May he rest in eternal peace.

  8. Wonderful tribute, Saker.

    • Agree: Realist
  9. I hadn’t heard that Stephen Cohen had died. I noticed that the last essay published at TUR was back in April. Also, Tucker Carlson, where he was a frequent guest, hadn’t had him on for some time. Cohen did all he could for peace with Russia for as long as his body would allow it.

    His excellent journalistic diary of the 2016 campaign “War With Russia?” derided Russia Conspiracy Theorist HRC, while it expressed hope for the insurgent Donald Trump, who claimed to want friendly relations with Russia. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Trump missed a great opportunity when he didn’t ask Cohen to be a top level advisor.

    Rest in Peace. Mr. Cohen.

    • Agree: mark green
    • Replies: @Realist
  10. nickels says:

    Sorry to hear this. I had grown to appreciate his knowledge of the slavs and appreciated him braving the constant slander and lies against Russia.

  11. Thank you Saker for sharing this sad news. I had not heard of Steven Cohen’s passing. He was a voice for peace and reason in the midst of imperial chaos. I enjoyed his articles and interviews. He filled a large space and he leaves a huge gap. Requiescat in pace.

  12. Yes, although I only knew of him and paid attention to him during these Trump years, he did indeed come across as a thoroughly decent and compassionate man. His voice will be missed.

  13. Anonymous[723] • Disclaimer says:

    Thank you for writing this nice tribute. Cohen was one of the strongest voices of sanity and reason in an increasingly insane and irrational world. When I think of Cohen I think of that line from Pascal: “It is not our task to secure the triumph of truth but merely to fight on its behalf.”

    • Agree: Realist
  14. Biff says:

    It seems that the real hero’s of this world go silently in the night.

  15. Deadite says:

    I too first heard him several years ago on the John Batchelor Show. I would look forward to Tuesday’s for his discussions with John. I learned a lot from him. I didn’t agree with all but I think he was an honest man and a peacemaker.

    I despise communism and had no use for the old Soviet Union. But Russia is not out enemy and shouldn’t be treated like one. Stephen was an outstanding proponent for peace and even for President Trump, who he saw as a victim of the deep state.

    Rest In Peace.

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
  16. El Dato says:

    This is a bad omen.

    Tearing down START for no good reasons, the “Radio Navalny” incident, Pompeo threatening every country that doesn’t pretend all is ok and follows along with Washington’s rank mafia act against Iran, “upgrades” in Syria with Bradley deathtraps — seems the brass wants to get someone killed to have a casus belli — and Biden not standing back menacing Russia like the bad bruiser that he is. The end of the year is hotting up.

  17. Ron Unz says:

    A great loss to all of us…

    Prof. Cohen’s situation in recent years strongly illustrates the entirely synthetic nature of our bizarre media-reality. For decades, he was America’s leading left-liberal Russia expert, and his wife was the longtime publisher of America’s leading left-liberal opinion magazine.

    But then some secret committee or whatever of donors or activists or maybe CIA assets decided to change the official left-liberal party line, and Cohen was quickly purged from all access to left-liberal media outlets. This reminds me of similar “evolution” in left-liberal economic views as revealed in Bernie Sander’s 2016 campaign:

    Earlier this year, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an elderly individual with unabashed socialistic views, was interviewed by Vox‘s Ezra Klein, and explained that “of course” heavy foreign immigration—let alone “open borders”—represented the economic dream of extreme free market libertarians such as the Koch brothers, since that policy would obviously drive down the wages of workers and greatly advantage Capital at the expense of Labor. These notions scandalized his neoliberal interlocutor, and the following day another Vox colleague joined in the attack, harshly denouncing the candidate’s views as “ugly” and “wrongheaded,” while instead pointing to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal as the proper font of progressive economic doctrine. Faced with such sharp attacks by young and influential Democratic pundits less than half his age, Sanders soon retreated from his simple statement of fact, and henceforth avoided raising the immigration issue during the remainder of his campaign.

    Or my discovery of America’s Great Purge of the 1940s:

    I sometimes imagined myself a little like an earnest young Soviet researcher of the 1970s who began digging into the musty files of long-forgotten Kremlin archives and made some stunning discoveries. Trotsky was apparently not the notorious Nazi spy and traitor portrayed in all the textbooks, but instead had been the right-hand man of the sainted Lenin himself during the glorious days of the great Bolshevik Revolution, and for some years afterward had remained in the topmost ranks of the Party elite. And who were these other figures—Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov—who also spent those early years at the very top of the Communist hierarchy? In history courses, they had barely rated a few mentions, as minor Capitalist agents who were quickly unmasked and paid for their treachery with their lives. How could the great Lenin, father of the Revolution, have been such an idiot to have surrounded himself almost exclusively with traitors and spies?

    • Replies: @Haxo Angmark
    , @Bumpkin
    , @Saggy
  18. Realist says:

    We Have Lost a Real Giant (Stephen F. Cohen Has Died)!

    That is for sure…he will probably be impossible to replace. He was one of the few true American patriots that spoke the truth about Russia…no matter the personal cost.


  19. Realist says:

    Also, Tucker Carlson, where he was a frequent guest, hadn’t had him on for some time.

    Hopefully Carlson will have a nice tribute to him.

    Trump missed a great opportunity when he didn’t ask Cohen to be a top level advisor.

    Oh so true…instead Trump hired some of the biggest assholes alive

  20. anon[316] • Disclaimer says:

    Oh so true…instead Trump hired some of the biggest assholes alive

    In Trump we have an incredibly bad leader of a good cause. He reminds me of northern Generals Burnsides and Hooker. Not smart, weak, poor character.
    A cause can survive only so much bad leadership.

    • Agree: Hibernian
  21. Ron Unz says:

    The NYT ran a long and strongly favorable obituary of Prof. Cohen this morning:

    But I noticed something interesting. Around 90% consisted of his earlier activities, with only the last 10% mentioning the “controversial” positions on Russia and Putin that had caused him to be purged from the MSM for the last twenty-odd years.

    Prior to then, he had merely been one of a number of prominent Russia experts, but his refusal to bend to the shift in elite sentiment since the 1990s had made him almost unique, so that was arguably one of the most important aspects of his long career, and mostly ignored.

    Since the NYT had fully supported with the MSM boycott, I suspect that they were embarrassed, and also perhaps worried that some of the longtime casual readers would now realize why one of their favorite left-liberal Russia experts had “disappeared” in the last couple of decades.

    • Replies: @Deadite
    , @Inky T
  22. Dan Hayes says:

    I remember Cohen stating quite clearly on the Batchelor program that Trump’s good intentions regarding Russia were being thwarted by the Deep State. Of course such heretical views went over like the proverbial Lead Balloon!

    • Replies: @Deadite
  23. @Ron Unz

    “and his wife was the long-time publisher, etc., etc.”

    that would be radical Left Jewess Katerina vanden Heuval of the Nation magazine. Granddaughter of Hollywood MCA mogul Jules Stein and inheritor of his fortune, + additional shekels when her mom committed suicide by jumping from a NYC high-rise. At last report, the vanden Heuval has only a few hundred million debtbux on Wall Street – a veritable pauper – and holds an apparently hereditary seat on the CFR, via her shabbatz-goy daddy: Wall St. lawyer William vanden Huval.

    BTW, I met Steve Cohen once, when in Brzezinski’s orbit @ Columbia U. Russian Institute c. 1973-74. Zbig invited him to do a presentation to a seminar on his bio of Bukharin; pretty good stuff, I dimly recall. Also in attendance was then grad student & future neo-con “Judeo-Christianity” scammer Dennis Prager, and Prof. Fred Barghoorn, later exposed – in the Venona decrypts – as a Soviet dupe.

    • Thanks: Jefferson Temple
    • Replies: @Realist
  24. Richard S says:

    Sorry to read Professor Cohen has passed. His political biography of Bukharin is a must read on the Bolsheviks and Stalin’s purges.

  25. Saggy says:

    Baloney – Cohen was a died in the wool Zionist … quoting

    “We know the story of people who survived the Holocaust,” Cohen says, “but almost nobody has ever written about, or asked about, what happened to the survivors of Stalin’s terror.”

    He was lying and he knew it, while promoting the hoax that is destroying western civilization.

    • Agree: neutral
    • Troll: Ron Unz, Haxo Angmark
    • Replies: @Saggy
  26. Bumpkin says:
    @Ron Unz

    I don’t interpret the left’s shift on immigration that way at all. Bernie merely espoused their long-standing antipathy to immigration, but in the Opressed Olympics of the Donkey Party, who is worse off, union workers making \$20-40/hour or immigrants barely scraping \$10/hour? With Trump grabbing the left’s position against immigration, what could they say, “Yes, we agree with Orange Hitler, and always have?” They quickly recalibrated, and stuffed their past positions down the memory hole to match, no grand conspiracy behind it.

    It is always possible that some plutocrats decided to push the racism angle to counter nativist anger about immigration, but that would never work if the mass of the Democrat Party weren’t predisposed to the message.

  27. Amen. RIP, Stephen.

    He stood his ground while others curled their backs.
    They listened to death, he to reason and heart.
    Brother of humanity! join the brave Laks:
    You were Three Hundred ’gainst the murd’ring tart.

  28. Realist says:

    What is the point of disagreeing with a comment and not stating a reason…as neutral and Saggy did???

  29. Realist says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    What does your diatribe against Katrina vanden Heuvel(if you are going to defame someone…spell their name correctly) have to do with Stephen F Cohen’s expertise on Russia?

    • Replies: @Haxo Angmark
  30. Jake says:

    Professor Cohen was as The Saker says: “Even though it is impossible to squeeze a man of such immense intellect and honesty into any one single ideological category, I would say that Stephen Cohen was a REAL liberal, in the original, and noble, meaning of this word.”

    Of course, as the Russian experience shows, the grandchildren of those ‘real liberals’ who truly were very good people almost all become freaks and monsters.

    Liberalism can exist and remain essentially decent only in the context of strong conservative Christian identity and values tempering it all the time.

    • Agree: Servant of Gla'aki
    • Replies: @neutral
  31. neutral says:

    Liberalism can exist and remain essentially decent only in the context of strong conservative Christian identity and values tempering it all the time.

    Christianity cannot endure if liberalism is accepted. Liberalism is the most corrosive and intolerant of all ideologies, it cannot coexist with anything else.

    • Replies: @Jake
    , @Robert Konrad
  32. @Realist

    the facts about this Jewish person are as I stated, hence no “defamation”. Here you stray perilously close to defining truth as hate-crime, i.e. “anti-semitic”.

    and I find the manner in which ‘Murka’s intellectual-political-financial Zionist Ruling Class integrates itself – often by marriage – most interesting. Cf. also Trump’s (and Mrs. Clinton’s) marrying off daughters to Wall Street Jews. Adoption is also a vector: cf. anti-White vulture-capitalist Mitt Romney’s virtue-signaling his (((Wall Street))) debt-holders by adopting (one) niglet; ditto various Hollywood bims (Sandra Bullock et al.) doing same re Jewish paymasters. Trump’s (next) likely cuckservative nominee to the SC has taken in not one but two niglets….I don’t even want to know what the Zionists have got on her.

    • Replies: @Realist
  33. Realist says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    the facts about this Jewish person are as I stated, hence no “defamation”. Here you stray perilously close to defining truth as hate-crime, i.e. “anti-semitic”.

    If you meant no insult to Stephen Cohen, then I am sorry.

    I agree with your further comments.

  34. Saggy says:
    @Ron Unz

    and his wife was the longtime publisher of America’s leading left-liberal opinion magazine.

    You say that as if it is a good thing, when the reality is that Cohen and his wife were at the very root of the left degeneracy that plagues the US and threatens the world …

  35. Saggy says:

    More of Cohen on the holohoax ….

    Most books about the experience of holocaust, especially those written by survivors, have two purposes. One is to chronicle the full horror of the holocaust, to sear it into the collective consciousness, so that it may never recur. The other is to explain the historical origins and causes of that experience.

  36. Jake says:

    In theory, your assertion does not have to be true. But what we have seen in the real world says that your assertion may be true true, certainly in terms of the Christianity that endures having retained historic doctrines, morals, and identities. Liberalism may act always to ruin those. History says that Liberalism replaces Christianity when a people are bored with or angered by Christianity, when they have become filled with pride that tells them they have outgrown Christianity.

    And Liberalism is always dancing with violent revolutionary tendencies. The right sparks turn huge numbers of once decent people Liberals into raging revolutionaries ready to shed a lot of blood in order to purify.

    • Replies: @Cowboy
  37. Deadite says:
    @Dan Hayes

    Indeed Mr Hayes!

    I had been listening to the good Doctor for several years when Trump came along and was surprised by his take – that it was identical in many ways to my own.

    I felt that I was a good student afterwards. I had learned to ignore the media and find the truth. And that’s what Dr Cohen wished the moat for his listeners and readers.

    Again, Rest In Peace. And thank you for the kind words about a great man Mr Saker.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  38. Deadite says:
    @Ron Unz


    The fact is that Russia is not an adversary. At most, it works to protect itself as all nations do, and I for one would feel the same if it had been the US that had collapsed (as it looks like we soon shall) and our enemies had placed armaments and military advisors on our borders.

    The NYT prefers we pay attention to Russia while China and our own internal enemies undermine us. Regretfully, they have probably succeeded as we head to what looks like the inevitable break up of the United States of America.

  39. Cohen was like much of the fringe left, a fantasist that thought the Soviet Union could be humanized. Alas, the Soviets were anti-human, just as the the CCP in Peking is anti-human. Putin is no better than the Soviets were and is, in fact, a not so crypto-Soviet.

    • Replies: @Robert Konrad
  40. @KenH

    Totally agreed, he was truly a brave man and will be sorely missed.
    RIP Stephen Cohen.

  41. I’ve read his Bukharin book, and I think he completely missed the point about Bolshevism. Leszek Kolakowski has dismissed him, in his chapter on Bukharin in Main Currents of Marxism.

    I don’t have any opinion on him as a human being, I don’t know a whit about it.

  42. To the Saker, my most horrifying conclusion of the past years was that Sergei Nilus was right. I do not want to be too specific, but the whole question of the Protokoli hinges on the question of whether or not the original was written in Russian or in French. Carlo Ginzburg, Italian-Jewish historian, believes that the Ur-text was in French. If it can be established that the original was in fact in French, then it turns out the Nilus was not a nutcase and that it’s all there. God help us. God save Holy Russia and please send us a Tsar to save the Orthodox Christian people from their enemies …

  43. A beautiful eulogy to an inspiring, intelligent, highly educated and informed writer. But why does the Saker always pollute his commentaries with his religious rantings of the most primitive kind?

    Here’s one example: “I believe that God took him away from us to spare him the pain of seeing his country collapse under the repeated attacks of pseudo-liberal neocons.”

    If that is what the Saker believes, then he is an infantile, demented man. He would be well advised to seek psychiatric treatment immediately.

  44. @Quartermaster

    “Alas, the Soviets were anti-human, just as the the CCP in Peking is anti-human.”

    If the Soviets were “anti-human,” then so are you, and your comment shows your subhumanity. And a subhuman level of ingratitude. It was the Soviets who saved Western civilization (including subhumans like you) from the apocalypse of a German Nazi-ruled world. It was not the Soviets who massacred Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, not to mention “minor” brutalizations of such minor countries like Grenada and Panama. Compared to the US, China and Russia are now exemplars of peace and cooperation.

  45. Cowboy says:

    Puritanism is built into the US DNA not necessarily its creeds but rather the fervor to establish justice in some sense so it reappears from time to time in different forms.

  46. Inky T says:
    @Ron Unz

    It is interesting how the times and experiences change us. I have become a devote reader of Dr Cohen in my old age. There are so few real academics anymore as much of what is passed of as insightfull writing about the world situation is just pratling of court jesters seeking to ingratiate themselve with their patron.
    I no longer bother to either read or subscribe to the New York Times or the Economist which were constant must reads for me in earlier years.
    Thank you for publishing Saker’s message which says so sympathetically what many of us feel. To read of Stephen Cohens death leaves me feeling that terrible feeling that the world has been diminished with his departure.

  47. @neutral

    “Christianity cannot endure if liberalism is accepted.”

    And why, pray, should Christianity endure?! Why should billions of people still be intellectually enslaved to the demented imaginings of some deluded Jew from Tarsus, grotesquely known as “Saint Paul”? (Which that ugly, unhappy, poor gnome was neither.) Everything that happens to be good in Christianity is not Christian. So what is the point?

  48. What a wonderful tribute! I agree with everything here. Stephen’s courage is magnified by the virtual absence of any rationality about Russia among progressives and leftists. There have not been too many voices of conscience on these topics lately. I wrote a lengthy and very positive review of Stephen’s latest book several months ago in CounterPunch, and he was very appreciative of that. I have to believe most of the “reviews” were simply terrible. Stephen was one of the very few people in the U.S. (or anywhere) who received his Ph.D. in Soviet Studies yet could still write about
    Soviet and Russian affairs with balance, integrity, and, yes, honesty. I have insights into this kind of conundrum since I too (a leftist) received a Ph.D. in Soviet studies and came to realize that everyone in the field failed the test noted above. I quickly moved away from the field but continued to benefit from Stephen’s excellent work, some of which I used in my own teaching and writing. I will miss him greatly.

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