A fateful struggle

Stephen F. Cohen writes another love letter to Putin in The Nation:

Cohen argues that America is now in unprecedented danger due to two related crises. A new and more dangerous Cold War with Russia that is fraught with the real possibility of hot war between the two nuclear superpowers on several fronts, including Syria. And the worst crisis of the American presidency in modern times, which threatens to paralyze the president’s ability to deal diplomatically with Moscow. (To those who recall Watergate, Cohen points out that, unlike Trump, President Nixon was never accused of “collusion with the Kremlin” or faced reckless, and preposterous, allegations that the Kremlin had abetted his election by an “attack on American democracy.”)

(He’s describing himself in the third person because he’s summarizing a dialogue he had with John Batchelor on the latter’s eponymous radio show.)

What Trump did in Vietnam last week was therefore vitally important and courageous, though uniformly misrepresented by the American mainstream media. Despite unrelenting “Russiagate” attempts led by Democrats to impeach him for “collusion with the Kremlin” (still without any meaningful evidence), and perhaps even opposition by high-level members of his own administration, Trump met several times, informally and briefly, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Presumably dissuaded or prevented by some of his own top advisers from having a formal, lengthy meeting, Trump was nonetheless prepared. He and Putin issued a joint statement urging cooperation in Syria, where the prospects of a US-Russian war had been mounting. And both leaders later said they had serious talks about cooperating on the crises in North Korea and Ukraine.

Because why would we not want to cooperate with Putin? Why would we not prefer the journalist-murdering oligarch to more “mainstream” (as Cohen puts it) allies like Merkel and Macron? Why would we not want to cooperate with Putin on his takeover of Ukraine?

Trump’s diplomatic initiatives with Putin in Vietnam also demonstrate that a fateful struggle over Russia policy is under way at high levels of the US political-media establishment, from the two political parties and Congress to forces inside Trump’s own administration. Whatever else we may think of the president—Cohen reiterates that he did not vote for him and opposes many of his other policies—Trump has demonstrated consistency and real determination on one existential issue: Putin’s Russia is not America’s enemy but a national-security partner our nation vitally needs. The president made this clear again following the scurrilous attacks on his negotiations with Putin: “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

This shit is in The Nation of all places.

Cohen is married to the editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, but that just pushes the puzzle back a step, it doesn’t solve it.

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