Stephen Cohen Has Died; Remember His Urgent Warnings Against The New Cold War

We should heed the dire warnings that Stephen Cohen spent his last breaths issuing, says Caitlin Johnstone.

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By Caitlin Johnstone

Stephen F Cohen, the renowned American scholar on Russia and leading authority on US-Russian relations, has died of lung cancer at the age of 81.

As one of the precious few western voices of sanity on the subject of Russia while everyone else has been frantically flushing their brains down the toilet, this is a real loss. I myself have cited Cohen’s expert analysis many times in my own work, and his perspective has played a formative role in my understanding of what’s really going on with the monolithic cross-partisan manufacturing of consent for increased western aggressions against Moscow.

In a world that is increasingly confusing and awash with propaganda, Cohen’s death is a blow to humanity’s desperate quest for clarity and understanding.

I don’t know how long Cohen had cancer. I don’t know how long he was aware that he might not have much time left on this earth. What I do know is he spent much of his energy in his final years urgently trying to warn the world about the rapidly escalating danger of nuclear war, which in our strange new reality he saw as in many ways completely unprecedented.

The last of the many books Cohen authored was 2019’s War with Russia?, detailing his ideas on how the complex multi-front nature of the post-2016 cold war escalations against Moscow combines with Russiagate and other factors to make it in some ways more dangerous even than the most dangerous point of the previous cold war.

“You know it’s easy to joke about this, except that we’re at maybe the most dangerous moment in US-Russian relations in my lifetime, and maybe ever,” Cohen told The Young Turks in 2017. “And the reason is that we’re in a new cold war, by whatever name. We have three cold war fronts that are fraught with the possibility of hot war, in the Baltic region where NATO is carrying out an unprecedented military buildup on Russia’s border, in Ukraine where there is a civil and proxy war between Russia and the west, and of course in Syria, where Russian aircraft and American warplanes are flying in the same territory. Anything could happen.”

Cohen repeatedly points to the most likely cause of a future nuclear war: not one that is planned but one which erupts in tense, complex situations where “anything could happen” in the chaos and confusion as a result of misfire, miscommunication or technical malfunction, as nearly happened many times during the last cold war.

“I think this is the most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations, at least since the Cuban missile crisis,” Cohen told Democracy Now in 2017.

“And arguably, it’s more dangerous, because it’s more complex. Therefore, we — and then, meanwhile, we have in Washington these — and, in my judgment, factless accusations that Trump has somehow been compromised by the Kremlin. So, at this worst moment in American-Russian relations, we have an American president who’s being politically crippled by the worst imaginable — it’s unprecedented. Let’s stop and think. No American president has ever been accused, essentially, of treason. This is what we’re talking about here, or that his associates have committed treason.”

“Imagine, for example, John Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis,” Cohen added. “Imagine if Kennedy had been accused of being a secret Soviet Kremlin agent. He would have been crippled. And the only way he could have proved he wasn’t was to have launched a war against the Soviet Union. And at that time, the option was nuclear war.”

“A recurring theme of my recently published book War with Russia? is that the new Cold War is more dangerous, more fraught with hot war, than the one we survived,” Cohen wrote last year.

“Histories of the 40-year US-Soviet Cold War tell us that both sides came to understand their mutual responsibility for the conflict, a recognition that created political space for the constant peace-keeping negotiations, including nuclear arms control agreements, often known as détente. But as I also chronicle in the book, today’s American Cold Warriors blame only Russia, specifically ‘Putin’s Russia,’ leaving no room or incentive for rethinking any US policy toward post-Soviet Russia since 1991.”

“Finally, there continues to be no effective, organized American opposition to the new Cold War,” Cohen added.

“This too is a major theme of my book and another reason why this Cold War is more dangerous than was its predecessor.

In the 1970s and 1980s, advocates of détente were well-organized, well-funded, and well-represented, from grassroots politics and universities to think tanks, mainstream media, Congress, the State Department, and even the White House. Today there is no such opposition anywhere.”

“A major factor is, of course, ‘Russiagate’,” Cohen continued. “As evidenced in the sources I cite above, much of the extreme American Cold War advocacy we witness today is a mindless response to President Trump’s pledge to find ways to ‘cooperate with Russia’ and to the still-unproven allegations generated by it. Certainly, the Democratic Party is not an opposition party in regard to the new Cold War.”

“Détente with Russia has always been a fiercely opposed, crisis-ridden policy pursuit, but one manifestly in the interests of the United States and the world,” Cohen wrote in another essay last year. “No American president can achieve it without substantial bipartisan support at home, which Trump manifestly lacks.

What kind of catastrophe will it take — in Ukraine, the Baltic region, Syria, or somewhere on Russia’s electric grid — to shock US Democrats and others out of what has been called, not unreasonably, their Trump Derangement Syndrome, particularly in the realm of American national security?

Meanwhile, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has recently reset its Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight.”

And now Stephen Cohen is dead, and that clock is inching ever closer to midnight. The Russiagate psyop that he predicted would pressure Trump to advance dangerous cold war escalations with no opposition from the supposed opposition party has indeed done exactly that with nary a peep of criticism from either partisan faction of the political/media class.

Cohen has for years been correctly predicting this chilling scenario which now threatens the life of every organism on earth, even while his own life was nearing its end.

And now the complex cold war escalations he kept urgently warning us about have become even more complex with the addition of nuclear-armed China to the multiple fronts the US-centralized empire has been plate-spinning its brinkmanship upon, and it is clear from the ramping up of anti-China propaganda since last year that we are being prepped for those aggressions to continue to increase.

We should heed the dire warnings that Cohen spent his last breaths issuing. We should demand a walk-back of these insane imperialist aggressions which benefit nobody and call for détente with Russia and China. We should begin creating an opposition to this world-threatening flirtation with armageddon before it is too late. Every life on this planet may well depend on our doing so.

Stephen Cohen is dead, and we are marching toward the death of everything. God help us all.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books “Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”

This article was re-published with permission.

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11 comments for “Stephen Cohen Has Died; Remember His Urgent Warnings Against The New Cold War

  1. September 21, 2020 at 14:17

    President Trump bashes NATO for not paying a fair share of defense costs, yet he has doubled the American taxpayer funded slush fund known as the European Deterrence Initiative. This is used to build new bases and fund expensive training operations that our NATO allies would never pay for. This fund has doubled since Trump took office and is now $6 billion for FY2020.

    Few Americans know the USA sent troops to Russia in 1918 in a failed attempt to help overthrown their government.

  2. delia ruhe
    September 21, 2020 at 04:28

    Awww, what a bummer. America just lost Ruth Bader Ginsberg on Friday, now it’s Stephen Cohen. I commiserate with all my American friends. Cohen was a voice of reason and an excellent analyst of Russiagate as it droned on and on. I still log on to the Committee for East-West Accord daily in the hope of hearing more from him, and I’m deeply saddened that his voice is now stilled.

  3. Allan P.-E. Tolentino
    September 21, 2020 at 03:21

    Another voice of sanity gone? And the world left to fend for itself among the insane within the asylum? Does anyone still

    feel safe? I don’t.

  4. Moi
    September 21, 2020 at 02:43

    According to today’s NY Times, 84 nations have signed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons yet only 44 have ratified it. The treaty needs at least 50 ratifications to come into force.

    Seriously, what hope is there for the planet when not even a quarter of UN member nations will sign?

  5. casfoto
    September 20, 2020 at 13:21

    What a good man. It is a real shame that we dont have others to stand up to this crazy pr that is going on right now. Making peace with the world at this point is important. We dont need or want another war and i am sure that both Europe and Russia dont want it on their turf but it seems we keep sticking our finger in their eye. If there is another war it will be the last war. As Einstein said, after the 3rd World War we will be using sticks and stones to fight it.

  6. Tony
    September 20, 2020 at 10:36

    Sad to hear this.

    Worth remembering that all the NATO governments supported the Trump administration claims, unsupported by any serious evidence, that Russia had violated the INF missile treaty.
    Former weapons, including INF, inspector Scott Ritter has contradicted this in his article that originally appeared on the American Conservative website.

    He writes: “By killing the INF Treaty based on flawed intelligence, the U.S. risks global annihilation.”

    We must heed this warning and demand a change of direction.

  7. Kim Dixon
    September 20, 2020 at 09:58

    A far, far more important loss than that of RGB, Cohen was our best voice in speaking out against Russophobic xenophobia, and for peace.

    But the tens of millions of pussyhatters weeping over the death of RGB can be roughly divided into two camps:

    98% of them: Stephen who?

    2% or them: Good riddance to that agent of Putin.

    Such is the decline of consciousness among people on the supposed-Left in 2020.

    • September 20, 2020 at 13:32

      Very good point. Another illustration of the manipulative strategy of the corporate media. The phony newswhores somberly jamming their narrative down our throats while ignoring true heroes like Stephen Cohen and Julian Assange. Most internet sites are following right along.

  8. September 20, 2020 at 08:36

    I was long an admirer of Stephen Cohen.

    Apart from his clear expertise and first-hand knowledge of Russian leaders, the power of what he had to say came from the fact of how rare it was to read or to hear an American expert who spoke about Russia as though it contained human society. The favorite experts selected by most American corporate broadcasting and press sounded as though they were giving a briefing in the Pentagon.

    And I do agree with Cohen that the times we’ve entered are more dangerous than the old Cold War. I believe far more dangerous.

    First, we have some of the most inadequate and ideologically-motivated men in high places I can recall, and I lived through the Cold War.

    And they owe their positions to the fact that America’s power establishment is so fearful now of losing its post-WWII privileged place in a changing world. They are effectively a serious source of instability.

    America is now running tanks right up against the Russian border everywhere that it can, having packed NATO (against earlier commitments to Russian leaders) with militarily and economically insignificant states. like the Baltics, only because they give direct access to the Russian border and increase the blindly pro-American voting population inside the organization.

    America has conducted a coup in Ukraine, greatly hurting that country’s economy and civil society, just to intimidate Russia along its lengthy border with Ukraine. It has even subsidized neo-Nazi outfits, like the Azov Battalion or the Right Front, to assure internal restrictions on elected governments making any concessions.

    America now sends regular naval flotillas into the Black Sea, Russia’s back yard, as it were.

    Most dangerous of all, perhaps, recently, it has had B-52 nuclear-capable bombers flying near the Russian border in Europe and they were practicing missile-launch and bombing runs in the direction of Russia. They did this from more than one location, including in Ukraine. Absolutely frightening stuff. The slightest miscalculation or misunderstanding could launch Armageddon.

    It has greatly increased NATO large-scale exercises, on land and on sea, exercises large enough to resemble invading forces.

    It is placing “defensive” missiles in launch complexes in a couple of European countries, the trouble being these launch complexes can just as easily accommodate medium-range cruise missiles to strike Russian territory as defensive missiles. A dangerous Jack-in-the-box situation.

    Russia of course watches such events with great attention, and all of these actions raise fears and tensions.

    America has ripped up a number of important nuclear treaties, hard-won efforts from the Cold War. It has launched a new costly project to improve the flexibility and usefulness of nuclear weapons, and it is weaponizing space.

    Western leaders, under the supervision of Washington, have accused Russia of murderous behavior without any effort to provide proof.

    And that kind of hostile behavior comes against a background of public displays of assassination (Iran, Iraq) and attempted assassination (Venezuela), open speech by an American President about assassination (Syria), and theft of national resources (Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Palestine, and other places).

    It is indeed a more fearsome time we have entered.

    And we just learned from Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s brilliant Foreign Minister, that under Obama, John Kerry secretly made an offer to accept the legitimacy of Crimea being part of Russia – they have a history together going back to Catherine the Great – if only a new referendum were held. Since the Crimean people, almost entirely Russian-speaking, had already voted openly, effectively twice, to secede from Ukraine and to re-join Russia, Lavrov thought it was an unnecessary additional gesture and expense.

    So much for all the shrill claims at the time, still sometimes echoed now, about Russian aggression. In private, America was quite ready to accept reality, given a concession.

    • casfoto
      September 20, 2020 at 13:36

      You have a great understanding of what is going on. It seems most people have no clue how we are living in such dangerous times. Our media makes me sick…the talking heads tell such fabulous lies. I have not had a TV for years and just read different articles concerning the situation. I think Putin meant it when he said that we will not have another war on our countries soil and that he will bring the next war to the US…. (especially since Russia lost 25 million people during WW2). You would think that Europe would feel the exact same way after having two of the worst world wars in history on their soil. What are they thinking?

    • Realist
      September 20, 2020 at 21:00

      Thanks for that comprehensive yet detailed summary of the never ending, always escalating crisis between the Russian leadership and the thugs of both major political parties who run America, implemented, of course, entirely by those thugs. Now that Professor Cohen is no longer amongst the living (the most far-reaching death to have occurred over this weekend in spite of the myopic tales peddled by the established fourth estate strictly to influence pre-election American politics) to attempt to speak verifiable facts, reason and civilised behavior to what sadly seems at least a plurality of world powers conspicuously intimidated and co-opted by the American thuggery, someone will have to pick up the slack. Good first attempt, John. Perhaps a formidable independent journalist like Aaron Maté will take up the torch from the fallen professor’s hands. He had a good personal rapport with Dr. Cohen and has never ceased to immediately call out the American gangsters for their endless parade of false flags and false narratives surrounding Russia which practically invite a nuclear world war simply to assuage their own insecurities as self-appointed world hegemon. If there is no consistent credible push back against the madness, this gullible country will be as easily led down the proverbial garden path as were the “good Germans” over eighty years ago.

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