TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
“Like Pac-man, the old game if you remember,” Dr. Stephen Cohen says, “NATO has gobbled up all of these countries between Germany and Russia; it’s now on Russia’s borders.” On June 13, The Nation’s contributing editor and author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, appeared on The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann. Cohen describes the US position on Ukraine as a “twenty-first-century foreign policy disaster, condemning the Obama administration for its stagnant and worsening relationship with Russia. “I am convinced that the most essential partner for American national security in all of these areas—from Iran to Syria to Afghanistan and beyond—is the Kremlin, currently occupied by Putin.”
Read Next: Stephen Cohen’s “Cold War Again: Who’s Responsible?”
Should America be looking to Seattle for solutions to its broken economic system? On Sunday, The Nation’s editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel appeared on ABC’s This Week with Neal Karlinsky and conservative commentator and Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot, to discuss Seattle’s historic minimum wage hike to $15 an hour. “This is smart economics,” argues vanden Heuvel. “It’s good politics and it’s morally right.”
While the minimum wage hike is double the federal rate and currently the highest in the country, many have questions regarding whether the hike will squeeze low-wage workers out of jobs and cause employers to move toward the use of automation in the workplace. Still, vanden Heuvel holds on in support of the 77 percent of Americans in favor of increases like these: “If we are a country that believes in a strong middle class and healthy families, we need rules of the road…. we need to have a sense of fairness in this country that’s also good for business and the economy.”
Dr. Stephen Cohen, a Russia scholar and longtime contributing editor at The Nation, laments what he perceives to be the absence of debate over US policy towards Ukraine. “The mainstream media has deleted people such as myself who are arguing for a change of policy,” he says. Appearing here on The Thom Hartmann Program, Cohen reviews the competing narratives as to what sparked the crisis in Ukraine and what it would take to end it. He argues that we should desist from Manichean posturing and engage with the possibility that the US does indeed bear some responsibility for the ongoing violence. Forcing the question of US culpability into public discourse is essential, he says, “because if we’re half at fault, and Russia’s half at fault, that’s the beginning of a negotiation.”
On Wednesday, President Obama delivered the commencement address to graduating cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point, using the occasion to articulate his vision for America’s role in world affairs. “This speech had different audiences,” says Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. “He was trying to thread the needle between hyper-interventionists and isolationists and was speaking to a war-weary public.” Appearing here on The Diane Rehm Show with Poltico editor Micahel Hirsh and Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, vanden Heuvel says that while the president did give a nod to international law and the need to exercise restraint in the use of military power, the speech did “not so much signal the end of military misadventurism as direct it towards a new arena in fresh packaging,” his proposed $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund being a case in point.
To listen to the entire conversation, visit The Diane Rehm Show here.
Petro Poroshenko has won this weekend’s presidential election in Ukraine. A business tycoon who previously served as economics and foreign minister, Poroshenko favors a trade deal with the European Union. Pundits view his ascent to the embattled country’s highest office as confirmation of the view that Ukraine wants to move towards the West. Nation contributor Stephen Cohen, appearing here on The John Batchelor Show, believes this is a problematic reading of the vote. “The election returns were primarily from Western Ukraine and Kiev. The East barely voted, so what we can say is Kiev and Western Ukraine elected a president.”
Karl Rove’s offensive comments about Hillary Clinton’s 2013 concussion were certainly a distraction from any real issues surrounding the 2016 presidential election. But Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel joined a panel discussion on CBS’s Face the Nation to argue that we should redirect our focus from Clinton’s chances to the fact that Clinton currently faces no viable Democratic challengers. “If you don’t have others running, not only is this country deprived of fresh ideas and new approaches, but [Clinton] is going to become the target of all the Republicans’ sleazy tricks.”
Stephen Cohen criticized the US government on Monday for its unwavering support of the Kiev government. Appearing on Democracy Now!, Cohen addressed this weekend’s hastily convened referendum on self-rule in Eastern Ukraine, calling it “no more or less legal than the government in Kiev,” which seized power in February. Cohen condemned the US response to attacks by Ukrainian troops in the Eastern cities of Mariupol and Odessa, where dozens of pro-Russian protesters were killed in a fire two weeks ago. “What did the US government say?” Cohen asked, “Did it say ‘we regret the loss of life?’ Did it say, ‘there should be an investigation?’ No. It said, ‘Kiev has the right to restore law and order.’” If a war crime was committed in Eastern Ukraine, warns Cohen, “we applauded it.”
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 to debate Putin’s announcements discouraging an upcoming vote for secession by pro-Russian separatists, withdrawing forces from the border and, in a change of stance, conditionally supporting Ukrainian elections in late May. In return, Putin wants the United States to tell Kiev to withdraw forces from Eastern Ukraine. Cohen also highlighted Putin’s announcement that Germany is willing to organize a roundtable, which if true, says Cohen, shows that “the United States seems to be dragging its feet.”
“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 Heuvel, Cohen cited the major media outlets as complicit in this rush to war, acting as “cheerleaders” for US policy. Cohen says there is a need for debate, but that debate isn’t possible unless there is agreement that, by virtually every measure, “Ukraine is profoundly divided.”