Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments are at TheNation.com.) The discussion briefly updates the growing military confrontation on Russia’s Western borders. Cohen points to evidence that despite NATO’s talk of temporary “exercises” and periodic “rotations” of its forces, the build-up is clearly intended to be permanent and to be ratified as such at the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw on July 6–8.
Cohen then argues there are neither facts nor logic to sustain NATO’s “bogus” explanation for the unprecedented and exceedingly provocative buildup—that Russian President Putin is planning a military takeover of the three small Baltic states and Poland and, more generally, seeks to break up the European Union. Instead, evidence and logic strongly suggest that Putin wants a stable and prosperous EU as an essential Russian trading partner, along with security guarantees for Russia from the Baltics to Ukraine. Pointing to a recent Pew survey revealing that barely a third of European citizens view Russia as a “major threat,” Cohen accuses US and NATO elites of waging a massive misinformation campaign to justify their policies—exactly what they constantly accuse Moscow of doing. Citing the British scholar Richard Sakwa, he adds that any Russian threats today are of US/NATO’s own making, as Moscow intensifies its own military buildup on its Western frontiers as “counter-measures.”
Tragically, Cohen emphasizes, there is the lost opportunity for US-Russian cooperation against international terrorism, whether as represented by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or by terrorist attacks inside Russia and America. Moscow has repeatedly proposed such an anti-terrorist alliance only to be rebuffed by Washington, despite the fact that Russia has essential assets and experience accumulated during years of coping with this growing threat. Cohen recalls that Moscow intelligence agencies alerted the FBI and CIA to one of the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston bombings three years ago, but the warnings were disregarded, largely due to the unfolding new Cold War. Refusing to cooperate with Russia against this truly existential threat, which “Putin’s Russia” is not, is, Cohen thinks, the most egregious failure of the Obama Administration and a disregard for US national security.
About all of this, Cohen feels obliged to point out again, the American mainstream media is silent while Congress prepares even more anti-Russian legislation and spending.