Several factors make this US-Russian Cold War more dangerous than its predecessor – is “Russo-madness” one of them?
Cohen has previously explained why the new Cold War is potentially even more dangerous than was its 40-year predecessor, citing factors such as the political epicenter’s now being on Russia’s borders, lack of a mutual code of conduct, and the unprecedented demonization of the Kremlin leader.
He had not much considered the role of Russophobia because he thought it had not been a large causal factor, unlike anti-Communism, in the preceding one, recalling an episode in his own family and, more importantly, the words of George Kennan, the architect of containment, in 1951, about the Russian people: “Give them time; let them be Russians; let them work out their internal problems in their own manner…towards dignity and enlightenment in government.”
But strikingly Russophobic statements by former chief US intelligence officials in 2017 caused Cohen to reconsider this factor:
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said on NBC national television, “the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor”; and CIA Director John Brennan, who warned that Russians “try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including US citizens, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly…. Individuals going on a treasonous path often do not realize it until it is too late.”
Former FBI director James Comey added, “They’re coming after America.” And there is Senator John McCain’s often quoted characterization of Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country.” Such comments by top intelligence officials, whose profession requires rigorous objectivity, and by influential political figures, set Cohen on a search for other such statements by leading opinion-makers and publications. He gives only a few of many representative examples
§ The March presidential election, a kind of referendum on his 18 years as leader, gave Vladimir Putin a resounding, nearly 77 percent endorsement. The election was widely characterized by leading US media outlets as “a sham,” which denigrates, of course, the integrity of Russian voters. Indeed, a leading Putin demonizer had earlier characterized Russian public opinion as “mob’s opinion.”
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