‘Powerful People In The West And In Kiev Do Not
Want A Ukrainian Settlement’ –
Prof. Stephen Cohen
I’ve said this for months could easily become as dangerous as the
Cuban missile crisis was.
June 19, 2015
Arguing that there is a peace and war party in
almost every capital, Professor Stephen Cohen, scholar of Russian
studies at Princeton and New York Universities, told RT he believes
the war party in Washington is against the Minsk agreement.
US policies in Ukraine have failed to achieve
their goals. With violence flaring up once again, and relations
fraught with tensions, diplomacy seems to be the best option. But is
there a consensus in the US on the acceptable terms of a political
settlement, and how are the dynamics of US internal politics likely
to affect its policy toward Russia, especially as the 2016
presidential race heats up?
To find answers to these questions RT’s program
“Worlds Apart” talked to Professor Stephen Cohen, Professor of
Russian Studies and History Emeritus at NYU, and Professor of
Politics Emeritus at Princeton University.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Yuri Gripas)
few weeks ago US Vice President Joe Biden said that “everybody wants
an end to this conflict in Ukraine, but the question is on whose
terms and how will it end.” Are the terms to end this conflict are
still being negotiated and if so what options are on offer?
My perspective is different from that of Vice President Biden. We
are now after all in almost two years – a year and a half – of a new
Cold War between the US and Russia – an exceedingly dangerous
confrontation over Ukraine, which I think and I’ve said this for
months could easily become as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis
was. The politics of this have now spread far and wide including in
Europe. It seems to me, and this is my fundamental analysis, that in
almost every capital – Washington, Brussels and certainly in Kiev,
and even to some degree in Moscow – there is what I call a peace and
a war party. The Minsk agreements, which were agreed upon by the
Chancellor of Germany, the President of France, the President of
Ukraine and of course President Putin of Russia represented then a
peace party. It set out in addition to a ceasefire in Ukraine very
far reaching, fundamental terms of negotiation to end the civil war
in Ukraine, to end the proxy war between the West and Russia. It’s
clear to me that there are powerful people in the West and in Kiev
who do not want a negotiated settlement.
Vice President Biden, who recently said that he talks to either PM
Yatsenyuk or President Poroshenko on almost a weekly basis – that’s
what he said - do you think that Biden belongs to the peace or war
camp when he is on the phone with them? Does he preach
SC: He says
he talks to them three times per week not once a week. But we have
evidence, something very dramatic just happened. As you know, in
late May Secretary of State John Kerry went to Sochi. First he met
with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then, remarkably, he
met for four hours with President Putin. It was absolutely clear
from what was said in Sochi at the press conferences afterwards that
Kerry’s mission had been to say that the US, the Obama
administration, now fully backed the Minsk agreement. That would put
Kerry in the peace party. It was kind of a surprise because he had
been taking a very hard line. However, look what then happened.
Kerry was attacked, literally criticized, for having gone to Sochi
by members of the Obama administration. The most vivid example
reported in the New York Times last Sunday I think was that a former
very close policy aide to Vice President Biden told the reporter
they didn’t know why Kerry had gone to Sochi, and that he had sent
bad messages and that his trip had been counterproductive. So you
conclude from this - and it confirms my thesis - that there is a war
party in every capital and even in the White House itself.
Despite this cheerful good guy image that Mr. Biden has, he also
has, I would say, a militaristic track record in the Senate. Here
was somebody who was in favor of the second Iraq war, NATO’s bombing
of Yugoslavia, he is in favor of NATO’s expansion eastwards. Do you
think there might be a division within the administration itself and
if so which side is President Obama more likely to listen to?
SC: I just
gave you the evidence. It’s apparent that there is a division inside
the administration. Kerry goes to Sochi, says certain things with
Lavrov and with Putin, he criticizes - by the way, this was the
first public criticism I have ever seen by a member of the Obama
administration of the Kiev regime, of its leadership. He criticized
Poroshenko for saying that he, Poroshenko, would by force take
Crimea and Donbass. That’s completely contradictory to what
Poroshenko agreed to in Minsk and Kerry criticized him publicly. He
said, “if that’s what Poroshenko has on his mind, I advise him
to drop this idea and support Minsk instead.”
That was practically a revolution in US foreign
policy on the part on Kerry. But then what happened? Kerry is
criticized. So the answer to your question is clearly there is a
division. But to put it all on Biden, who’s probably not the most
influential person at the moment, misses the larger point that the
policy toward Russia in the US today is completely bipartisan – it’s
Democratic and it’s Republican, and this includes the crisis in
Ukraine. And still worse, completely unlike the debate we had during
the last Cold War there is no public opposition in the Democratic or
the Republican Party, in the Senate or in the mainstream media. This
is a much more serious problem than whatever Biden thinks or doesn’t
think or has done in the past. There is simply no opposition at all.
We thought for a brief moment that what Kerry did in Sochi was the
beginning of a debate, or at least an alternative position in
Washington, but he was attacked, he broke his leg, he disappeared.
And now as you see what happened in Europe at the G7 a couple of
days ago, and what Obama said there – Sochi has been forgotten.
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