If there is a more mendacious and treacherous piece of filth lurking in the darkest of the dark corners of appeasement and complicity where Russian dictatorship is concerned than Professor Stephen F. Cohen (pictured, left), we have never heard of the villain.
When combined with his malignant wife Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation magazine, a frenzied left-wing screed if ever there was one, Professor Cohen surely takes the cake in selling out American values for personal gain. Cohen has been exposed time and time again for his dishonest and misleading diatribes in support of Vladmir Putin, so it was hardly surprising to open the pages of the Washington Post and see him exclaim that we have nothing to fear as Putin becomes president for life.
One can clearly see in Cohen’s insane ravings in the Post the shadows of the ghost of Neville Chamberlain, who told the world it needn’t worry about Adolf Hitler and then, when millions perished, said “oops, sorry, my bad.”
According to Cohen, the editorial boards of the Post and the New York Times are idiots, engaging in “simplistic morality” when the criticize Putin’s return to power, and only he and his ilk are capable of real “political analysis.” Cohen cites Igor Yurgens as explaining that Putin returned to power because “Medvedev was never able to shed his image as an ineffectual political figure. In effect, Medvedev failed his four-year audition for a second term.” In other words, four years ago apart from Putin there was only one person capable of governing Russia, and now there is only one, period.
But Cohen doesn’t care to tell his readers (if anyone is still foolish enough to take his shameless lies seriously) that Yurgens has already gone on record stating that Putin’s policies have lead to horrific capital flight that threatens to bring Russia’s economy down.
And Cohen doesn’t care to tell his readers that Putin has unquestionably been pulling Medvedev’s stings throughout his presidency, so that there never was any audition and there never was any reason for Putin to return to formal power except the blind ego mania of a Stalin or a Hitler.
Cohen doesn’t pause even for a second to reflect upon the dire harm caused by lifetime dictators in places like Libya and the USSR and Nazi Germany.
Instead, Cohen would like us to believe that Putin is only returning to power because the wise, selfless oligarchs who rule Russia from behind the scenes have seen that Russia must have “bitter medicine” forcing it to diversify its economy away from crude oil, and concluded that only Putin has enough credibility to implement such policies.
But Cohen doesn’t care to tell his readers that this is exactly what was said about Putin 12 years ago in order to justify his taking power in the first place. It was said that he country need tough measures and Putin’s brutal crackdown was necessary to achieve them. It was said that once Putin made these reforms, he would step aside and let Russia be governed by others. Cohen doesn’t care to notice that this never happened.
Nor does Cohen care to remember that such statements are exactly the same kind that were used to justify the dictatorship of the Politburo, which led to the collapse of the USSR. He does not care to acknowledge that it will take decades to diversify the Russian economy, justifying that Putin rule forever.
But the most egregious flaw in Cohen’s “analysis” is that he does not recognize that diversifying the Russian economy is clearly not in Putin’s interests. Diversifying the economy means pluralism, and not only economic but also political pluralism. Such pluralism would directly undermine Putin’s authority, and leave him vulnerable to displacement.
More importantly, it would leave Putin vulnerable arrest. Cohen actively misleads his readers when he fails to tell them about the documented record of corruption that Putin has shown since his first days in politics. If Russia were to become pluralistic, Putin would perish. He has no intention of doing that, so Russia will not become pluralistic.
Cohen is not so stupid as to be unaware of this fact. He’s lying about it because such propaganda is necessary in order to prop up the Putin regime, to protect it from Western criticism. And if Cohen is doing Putin’s bidding in such a shamelessly dishonest manner, it follows that Cohen must be getting something in return.
It’s noteworthy that Cohen merely asserts that the oligarchy “seems to understand” that diversification is necessary. This way, when a few years from now we see that no diversification is taking place, Cohen has an out. He is asking us to trust Vladimir Putin, a proud KGB spy and trained liar. And if he’s proven wrong, he can just say: “oops, sorry, my bad.” Meanwhile, Putin will have consolidated his power and wiped out the last vestiges of freedom in neo-Soviet Russia.
Cohen covers himself further by arguing that even if dictatorship occurs, it is what the Russians want. He believes Russian opinion polls favor Putin because Putin has been successful, and states: “It was Putin who restored pensions, lifted wages and elevated living standards after the traumatic 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin’s policies impoverished the country.”
That’s another shameless lie. It was the price of oil that spared the Russian economy, and Putin does well in polls because most Russians get their news from television, which is state-controlled and never criticizes Putin.
Cohen’s propaganda is most clearly seen when he contradicts himself, as if he did not think readers would remember the last paragraph after reading the next. He opens his diatribe attempting to appear reasonable by stating: “We make no brief for Vladimir Putin as a democrat.” But then he states: “The larger assumption that Putin’s return will mean a further diminishing of Russia’s democratic prospects is based on the false premise that Yeltsin, like Medvedev today, was a liberal democrat.” So one minute Putin isn’t a democrat, the next he’s as much of a democrat as anyone in Russia. One minute democracy doesn’t matter because Russia is in trouble, the next it does and Putin is no threat to it. This the same kind of childish “reasoning” that always characterized Soviet propaganda. Cohen has clearly studied it well.
Cohen argues that since Medvedev was never liberal, Putin’s critics can’t claim removing Medvedev is a retrograde policy, or else they must admit that letting Medvedev remain proves Putin isn’t really that scary. In other words, Cohen totally ignores the realty, accepted by every other Russia watcher of every stripe, that Medvedev was a mere figurehead whose policies have never mattered in the least. This is the Big Lie theory, writ large.
Cohen argues that Putin won’t be bad for the US because he gave concessions on Afghanistan, NATO expansion and ballistic missile defense the last time he was in power. In other words, he’s saying the US should sell American values, and the people of Russia, down the river and into totalitarian enslavement because they may be able to line their pockets as a result, even as Putin does the same. Any reasonable person ought to be horrified at Cohen’s lack of basic morality.
As if hallucinating, totally unable to remember his last paragraph, Cohen then states: “Those days of a yielding Putin, however, may be behind us.” If they are, Professor Cohen, then shouldn’t we be worrying more about Putin rather than less?? Seeming to realize how utterly insane it is to suggest that the America-hating KGB spy can be trusted, Cohen ends his diatribe with an implied threat on Putin’s behalf, that we must give Putin what he wants and let him run roughshod in Russia or else there will be trouble.
Let’s be clear: Professor Cohen is a very evil, dishonest man working to advance the Putin agenda int he manner of a treacherous foreign spy. His words might just as well have been written by Putin himself, and in fact we don’t know that they weren’t.