Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the leftist narrative about collusion between Donald Trump and Russia, featuring an interview aired on Liberty Nation Radio with Dr. Stephen Cohen, longtime progressive scholar on Russia.
Not since the end of the cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union almost 30 years ago has Russia been in the news as frequently as the last two or three years, or more precisely, since Donald Trump entered the presidential fray. Democrats and leftists persist in pushing the so-called Russia-gate narrative, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to work diligently to piece together a bunch of individual meetings and contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians in apparent hopes of uncovering some sort of collusion.
It was a perfectly normal, necessary act of diplomacy…
But there is a crack in the leftist armor, and his name is Dr. Stephen Cohen, who has studied, taught, and written about Russia and the Soviet Union for 50 years at Princeton University and NYU, and for the progressive publication The Nation. Dr. Cohen joined us on Liberty Nation Radio to discuss his new book War with Russia?, in which the progressive scholar warns of the severe consequences of this targeting of Trump and Russia.
Tim Donner: Over 40% of the American people now believe not just that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but that Russians tampered with the actual votes in 2016, which even the most hostile political opponents of Trump admit is not true. I mean, it really couldn’t be true, since voting machines are not connected to the internet. But your book is all about how this ever-growing and changing Russia-gate narrative is fraught with real danger in our international relations. What specifically is that danger?Dr. Stephen Cohen
Dr. Stephen Cohen: Let’s look at it from two perspectives. First of all, let me say flat out that I’ve spent a lot of time looking for evidence that there was collusion, which means conspiracy I guess, between Trump and the Kremlin to help him become elected, and I have found no evidence whatsoever. Mueller has turned up some fairly sleazy financial misdeeds by people associated with Trump’s enterprises, but you would find that with any major corporation or any major political figure who had been in the business world for years. It’s not unusual. It’s not conspiracy. It’s not treason, but a large part of the mainstream American media, particularly that segment of the media that favors the Democratic Party, has literally been calling Trump treasonous. I’m not making this stuff up.
You recall that when Trump went to meet with Russian leader, Putin, in Helsinki, they spoke about things that American leaders had spoken with Kremlin leaders about ever since President Eisenhower. It was a perfectly normal, necessary act of diplomacy, and yet when Trump came home, he was accused of treason, widely accused of it. All right. Stop there, and remember the worst moment in our relations with Russia, then Soviet Russia, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. People of all generations know about this, because it’s taught in the schools as the most existentially dangerous moment, when we came close to nuclear war. That time President John Kennedy was completely free to negotiate an end to that crisis with then-Soviet leader, Khrushchev.
Today, when we’re in a new and more dangerous Cold War with fronts that are fraught with hot war. That would be Ukraine, Syria, and the North Baltic region of Russia, right on Russia’s border. What if we get into that kind of moment? I ask myself, is President Trump free to negotiate with Putin to back away from nuclear war, when in the United States, newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and all these cable channels say Trump is somehow an accomplice of Putin? He would not be free, so how would we avoid war with Russia? That is what concerns me worst of all. There are other dangers, but it’s this combination of the so-called Russia-gate and the new Cold War, which is right on Russia’s borders, that I think risks actual war with Russia for the first time ever.
Tim: This Special Counsel investigation has resulted in the indictment of several Russian executives, none of whom will ever come to justice, because they’re in Russia and the indictments are here, but they do confirm that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election. How would you characterize the nature of Russia’s interference in 2016? And how did it differ from interference by the Russians or Soviets in previous American presidential elections?
Dr. Cohen: The last part of your question is very wise, because we always have to look at these things historically and ask, “Was there anything unusual or different?” If we had an hour, we could through all the episodes when not only did Russia, Soviet Russia particularly, interfere or meddle in our elections, in one way or another, but equally importantly, the way we meddled in their internal affairs. The historical, dramatic, shocking moment is when the Clinton Administration literally saved President Yeltsin, then president of Russia, from certain defeat in 1996. What they did was intrusive, invasive, dramatic, and so triumphalist that Showtime made a movie about it, called Spinning Boris. It was a moment we bragged on.
What some Russians did is what we and the Russians have been doing for almost a century. That is fiddling around with the other’s politics.
In part two of this series, Dr. Cohen discusses how Russia has interfered in U.S. elections for many decades, how the crimes uncovered by Mueller amount to little more than figurative jaywalking, and how the leftist cult of Russia-gate has soured American relations with Russia, leading Vladimir Putin to seek alternative alliances.