Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at TheNation.com.)
Emphasizing growing Cold War extremism in Washington and war-like crises in US-Russian relations elsewhere, Cohen comments on the following examples:
§ Russiagate, even though none of its core allegations have been proven, is now a central part of the new Cold War, severely limiting President Trump’s ability to conduct crisis-negotiations with Moscow and further vilifying Russian President Putin for having ordered “an attack on America” during the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times and The Washington Post have been leading promoters of the Russiagate narrative, even though several of its foundational elements have been seriously challenged, even discredited.
Nonetheless, both papers recently devoted thousands of words to retelling the same narrative—on September 20 and 23, respectively—along with its obvious fallacies. For example, Paul Manafort, during the crucial time he was advising then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was not “pro-Russian” but pro–European Union. And contrary to insinuations, General Michael Flynn did nothing wrong or unprecedented in having conversations with a representative of the Kremlin on behalf of President-elect Trump. Many other presidents-elect had instructed top aides to do the same. The epic retellings of the Russiagate narrative by both papers, at extraordinary length, were riddled with similar mistakes and unproven allegations. (Nonetheless, a prominent historian, albeit one seemingly little informed both about Russiagate documents and about Kremlin leadership, characterized the widely discredited anti-Trump Steele dossier—the source of many such allegations—as “increasingly plausible.”)