To Stop The New Cold War
Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian
studies at NYU and Princeton, spoke with CNN's 'Smerconish'
Saturday morning about Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin,
and the 'New Cold War.'
- Cohen says the media at large is doing a huge
disservice to the American people by ignoring the
substance of Trump's arguments about NATO and
Russia, and buying the Clinton campaign's simplistic
smear that Trump is a Russian "Manchurian
"That reckless branding of Trump as a Russian agent,
most of it is coming from the Clinton campaign,"
Cohen said. "And they really need to stop."
"We're approaching a Cuban Missile Crisis level
nuclear confrontation with Russia," he explained.
"And there is absolutely no discussion, no debate,
about this in the American media."
"Then along comes, unexpectedly, Donald Trump," he
continued, "Who says he wants to end the New Cold
War, and cooperate with Russia in various places...
and --astonishingly-- the media is full of what only
can be called neo-McCarthyite charges that he is a
Russian agent, that he is a Manchurian candidate,
and that he is Putin's client."
"This is a moment when there should be, in a
presidential year, a debate," he said. "And that is
not what we are given in the media today."
"Let's go back to what you said Trump said about
NATO," Cohen also said. "Trump said early on, he
wanted to know, 60 years after its foundation, what
was NATO's mission today. 100 policy wonks in
Washington since the end of the Soviet Union, 25
years ago, have asked the same question. Is NATO an
organization in search of a mission?"
"That's a legitimate question --but we don't debate
it. We don't ask it. We just say, oh, Trump wants to
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN: When looking to blame
someone for the cyberattack [against Hillary
Clinton an the DNC], Russia was more than
convenient. Is this a new cold war or political
pot-stirring? Does this accusation have any
basis in fact, and if not, could it cause real
harm? Here to discuss is Stephen F. Cohen,
American scholar of Russian studies at both
Princeton and New York Universities. Professor
Cohen, does Vladimir Putin indeed have a dog in
our U.S. [election]?
STEPHEN F. COHEN: Vladimir Putin wants to end
the 'New Cold War -- and so do I.
Let me say, I have no ties to the Trump campaign
or the Clinton campaign. But if I were to write
your headline for you today, I tried on the way
down here, I couldn't fit it on the front page,
but it would go like this:
"We're in a new and more dangerous Cold War
We're approaching a Cuban Missile Crisis nuclear
confrontation with Russia, both along Russia's
borders and possibly over Syria. There is
absolutely no discussion, no debate, about this
in the American media -- including, forgive me,
Then along comes (unexpectedly) Donald Trump,
who says something that suggests he wants to end
the new Cold War, cooperate with Russia in
various places. What we used to call detente,
and now --astonishingly-- the media is full of
what only can be called neo-McCarthyite charges
that he is a Russian agent, that he is a
Manchurian candidate, and that he is Putin's
So the real danger is what's being done to our
own poltical process.
This is a moment when there should be, in a
presidential year, a debate.
Because Mrs. Clinton's position on Russia seems
to be very different [than Mr. Trump's], has
been a long time.
Trump speaks eliptically. You've got to piece
together what he says. But he seems to want a
new American policy toward Russia. And
considering the danger, I think we as American
citizens, deserve that debate, and not what we
are given in the media today, including on the
front page of the "New York Times."
I end by saying, that this reckless branding of
Trump as a Russian agent, most of it is coming
from the Clinton campaign and they really need
SMERICONISH: Okay. I don't know where to begin
in unpacking all that you just offered to us.
But I guess I'll start as follows. As one who
can't match your credentials, here's what I see
from the outside looking in. I see Donald Trump
having said to the "New York Times," just within
the last ten days, that he's not so sure he
would stand with NATO allies, and I'm
paraphrasing, he would want to know whether they
would be pulling their own weight. The inpart of
his comments seems to suggest he could provide
Putin with unfettered, undeterred access to the
Baltic states --whose independence he resents.
So it all seems to fit, therefore, that Putin
would have a dog in this fight, would want to
see Donald Trump win this election so that he,
Putin, could do as he pleases, in that part of
the world. CNN is covering that. I have to
defend the network in that regard. But why does
that not all fit, and why does it not all fit in
the headline in today's "New York Times," which
says Russian spies said to have hacked Clinton's
COHEN: "Said to have." Said to have. That's not
news, that's an allegation. James Clapper. I
don't know who hacked. Everybody hacks
everybody. I mean, we hacked into Chancellor
Merkel's cell phone. We learned that from
Snowden. The Israelis hack, the America.
Everybody hacks. The point is, and I know you
said it, not to defend it, but as a provocation,
that let's take the position you just set out.
That Putin wants to end the independence in
Baltic states. There is no evidence for that.
The point is, is that on the networks -- and I'm
not blaming CNN, and there's none on any
network. There is none in the "New York Times."
I am old enough to remember that during the last
Cold War, all these issues were debated in that
you had a proponent to each point of view. But
you have now got accusations, both against
Putin, both against Trump, which needed to be
The most -- let's go back to what you said --
Trump said about NATO. Trump said early on, he
wanted to know, 60 years after its foundation,
what was NATO's mission today.
100 policy wonks in Washington since the end of
the Soviet Union, 25 years ago, have asked the
same question. Is NATO an organization in search
of a mission? For example, it's a mission for
the last 20 years was to expand ever closer to
Russia. So people have now asked why isn't it
fighting international terrorism? That's a
legitimate question --but we don't debate it. We
don't ask it.
We just say, oh, Trump wants to abandon NATO.
I don't defend Trump. Trump raises questions.
And instead of giving answer to the substance of
the question, we denounce him as some kind of
Kremlin agent. That's bad for our politics, but
still worse, given the danger we're not