TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
This Sunday residents of Crimea will vote on whether or not to reunite with Russia. The de facto authorities in Kiev have called the impending referendum illegal, and the Obama administration says it will not recognize it. Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel joined a panel on MSNBC to discuss the political situation in Ukraine, the disputed legitimacy of the upcoming referendum and the so-called “masculinity crisis” facing President Obama. A precondition to the emergence of a democratic and economically stable Ukraine, she says, is that we drop the Cold War framing and bluster. Rather, the US should promote a negotiated settlement that includes “fair and free elections, a promise not to expand NATO into Ukraine, and an agreement that Ukraine can be part of both the EU and the Russian customs union.”
The US and Russia have been locked in a rhetorical tennis match since President Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine’s Crimea region late last week. Calling for “some sober perspective” from politicians in all three countries, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel appeared on CNN’s Amanpour to discuss the recent upheaval in Ukraine. According to vanden Heuvel, reasoned diplomacy will be critical for securing the territorial integrity of Ukraine, stabilizing the country’s faltering economy, and organizing free and fair elections. For more of vanden Heuvel’s thoughts on what must be done in Ukraine, listen to her interview with Uprising Radio’s Sonali Kolhatkar.
As the crisis in Ukraine deepens, the Western media and political elites continue to debate the role that America should play. So what are America’s options? According to Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen, they are absolutely “zero, unless we want to go to war.” Appearing on PBS NewsHour with Hari Sreenivasan, Cohen insisted that Putin’s mission is to restore Russian security and greatness at home. Because of the economic, political and military realities on the ground in Ukraine, “Putin holds all the cards, for better or worse.” All eyes are now on Putin as the specter of civil war looms over an ethnically, linguistically and politically divided Ukraine.
Speaking on PBS NewsHour following President Yanukovych’s flight from Kiev, Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen urged the US to promote “a stable and united Ukraine, at peace with itself and not trapped in an either or proposition between Russia and Europe.” There’s a serious threat, Cohen warned, that Ukraine will split between two governments, one led by the EU-leaning protesters in Kiev and another headed by a Russia-leaning Yanukovych government in the country’s east. What’s more, the upheaval could stoke Putin’s fears that Western-allied forces might try to destabilize Russia, prompting the Russian president to crack down harder on dissenters within his own country.
When Obama first came to office, he signed an executive order that was intended to curtail the power of lobbyists in his administration. But the order didn’t actually make lobbying go away, it only sent it underground. Now, a deregistered, shadow lobby industry is booming, and money spent on lobbying in DC enjoys a 22,000% return on investment. The Nation’s Lee Fang joined The New York Times’s Nicholas Confessore on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner to discuss these trends and the revelations from Fang’s Nation feature Where Have All the Lobbyists Gone?
The fight for LGBT equality has experienced some stark highs and lows recently. Attorney General Eric Holder called LGBT rights one of the central civil rights fights of our time, even as Arizon's legislature passed a bill that allows businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, using religious convictions as justification. Nation contributing writer Ari Berman appeared on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry show to discuss how LGBT rights fit in to the larger civil rights struggle. According to Berman, the success of movements like North Carolina's Moral Mondays depends upon strong coalition-building. Berman attributed the strong turnout of a recent Moral Mondays rally to the fact that "so many different causes were represented." The groups behind those causes, which include LGBT, immigrant and traditional civil rights organizations, are "all fighting in a shared struggle."
The crisis in Ukraine came to a head this weekend with President Viktor Yanukovych’s hasty flight from Kiev. The western response to his departure now threatens to fracture the Ukrainian government into two regimes: one led by a democratically-elected president and one chosen by the “street.” Appearing on Electric Politics, Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen situated the present conflict in Ukraine within the context of America’s foreign policy toward post–World War II Eastern Europe. He argues that western policymakers seem unaware of the possible consequences of their support for the Ukrainian dissidents. Pointing to a “new Cold War divide in Europe” as one possible outcome, Cohen warns that “our children and grandchildren will pay the price of this winner-take-all policy.”
Is lobbying going underground? Despite its official decline on paper, Nation Institute reporting fellow Lee Fang argues that the influence industry “is growing very quickly.” In an interview with Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González, Fang spoke about his latest Nation feature “The Shadow Lobbying Complex,” drawing attention to an Obama executive order banning registered lobbyists. In effect, the order has catalyzed an underground, unregistered lobby industry. Fang also talked about Palantir, a Silicone Valley–based company backed by the CIA and venture capitalists, and the recent uptick in lobby money spent on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Bangladesh.
The last three days have been the bloodiest in Ukraine’s twenty-two-year post-Soviet history. In an interview with Democracy Now!, Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen railed against the tepid response of Western leaders to this eruption of violence. Warning that the chaos in Ukraine could spark a civil war—or even “a new Cold War divide”—he chastised the United States and Germany for placing responsibility for solving this political crisis squarely in the hands of the Ukranian government. According to Cohen, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel’s implicit support for the anti-government protesters helps to “rationalize what the killers in the streets are doing. It gives them Western license.”
Editor’s note: The interview with Cohen starts at 11:40.
Has the American media mischaracterized the ongoing protests in Ukraine? Nation contributing editor and Russian historian Stephen Cohen thinks so. In an interview on the John Batchelor Show this Tuesday, Cohen criticized American journalists for downplaying the radical ultra-nationalist character of some protesters. “They’re a small minority,” Cohen said, “but they’re organized. They’ve got funds. They’re armed. And therefore they’re exceedingly dangerous when the moderate leadership has collapsed.” Cohen also appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, where he questioned whether American national security is best served by the media’s unanimous “Putin-bashing.”