Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. Cohen points out that in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on Paris, on November 13, French President Hollande announced a coalition with Russia against the Islamic State, ratified, it seemed, by the European Union when it evoked its mutual defense provision on behalf of France. All of the news reported by Batchelor at the top of the broadcast, Cohen argues, suggests that powerful forces and ramifying events are working against such a coalition.
After meeting with Hollande in Washington on November 24, President Obama made clear that Washington would not participate in an anti-terrorist coalition with Russia unless it was on the White House’s own terms, which include the removal of Syrian President Assad. (Moscow’s position is that this would result in the disintegration of the Syrian state and army, as happened in Libya when the US carried out “regime change” there, and another major advance of terrorist forces in the Middle East, possibly all the way to Damascus.)
In addition, two events occurred that undermined Hollande’s initiative—Ukrainian ultra-nationalist destruction of energy infrastructure in Crimea that left the (now) Russian peninsula without electricity; and the shooting down of a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border. Whether intentional efforts to sabotage the movement towards a European Union-Russian rapprochement or not, they had that effect.
Lastly, Batchelor and Cohen discuss positions taken by American candidates for the presidency. Cohen argues that all of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Donald Trump and Rand Paul, advocate steps that would increase the likelihood of actual war with Russia. Mrs. Clinton continues to espouse the policies that led, since her husband’s administration in the 1990s, to the new Cold War, while Senator Sanders, in his speech at Georgetown University last week, proposed putting past disputes aside for a US-Russian coalition against international terrorism. Sanders’ proposals seemed so different from those of Mrs. Clinton that, Cohen hopes, a public debate on these fateful issues may actually break out for the first time since the Ukrainian crisis unleashed the new Cold War two years ago.