Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Though recklessly indifferent to America's vital interests, the September 30 issue of The Weekly Standard made my day. Its scurrilous response to my article "Demonizing Putin Endangers America's Security," posted on on September 16, amply illustrates my longstanding argument that the US-Russian cold war is on again—or never ended—especially in the American political-media establishment.

The Weekly Standard's assault on my article—reflexively including The Nation and my patriotism—is a quintessential example of cold-war thinking and debased discourse. On one level, it ignores entirely the matter of America's national security—my point that the wide-spread media denigration of Vladimir Putin may lead Washington to reject, or otherwise subvert, the Russian leader's proposal to avoid war by putting Syria's chemical weapons under international control. Only very bad consequences can result from yet another American war in the Middle East, but in this the missile-ready Weekly Standard, which remains silent about its role in the disastrous US war in Iraq, has no interest whatsoever. Its sole purpose instead is to allege that "defending the peace-loving Russians" is something "in which The Nation has specialized since October 1917." (Today's American cold warriors usually focus on events after 1945, but The Weekly Standard's obsessions are nearly centennial.)

For my thesis, things then get even better, as predictable cold-war era personal slurs follow. It turns out that I have managed "to evolve from a Soviet apologist into a Russian nationalist." And this because I, and The Nation, have always had "contempt for the United States" and "hostility to the land of [our] birth." No need to point out that this kind of political defamation is straight from the McCarthy era, but I will exercise a personal privilege: Having grown up in Kentucky, attended college in Indiana, lived for some time in Florida, taught for thirty years in New Jersey and lived even longer in New York, states for which I retain considerable affection, I hereby testify that The Weekly Standard's cold-war repetitions are both preposterous and, in regard to our national interests, un-American.

Stephen F. Cohen writes about why demonizing Russia threatens US national security.