The Force Has Been Weakened
Stephen Cohen, the last objective American university expert on Russia, has died at age 81. Professor Cohen was non-ideological. His scholarship never fell into propaganda.
I knew of Cohen all of my professional life. I relied on his scholarship for a chapter in my book, with Lawrence Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Cohen’s objectivity caused him to be seen as a leftwinger with pro-Soviet biases. In the Cold War, you were with us or against us. There was no room for objectivity. But Cohen stood his objective ground.
I got to know Cohen late in our lives. What brought us together was our opposition to the renewal of the Cold War by the military/security complex that was desperate to have an enemy sufficiently threatening to justify its power and budget. Cohen and I shared concern that Washington’s dismantling of the arms limitation agreements achieved over the decades and subsequent rise in tensions was resurrecting the specter of nuclear Armageddon. We both were appalled at the demonization of Putin and Russia. We were disheartened as we observed diplomats and professors, such as Michael McFaul, Stanford professor and Obama’s ambassador to Russia, become propagandists for the CIA and military/security complex. If you didn’t go along with the anti-Russian propaganda, you were labeled a “Putin agent/dupe,” as Cohen and I were.
I will miss him. His departure leaves me with a lonely voice.