Ever since the crisis in the Ukraine broke out, Stephen F. Cohen has been campaigning on behalf of a Kremlin that he warns is being unfairly demonized by the West as part of an effort to start a new Cold War. Some of his arguments can only be described as ludicrous. For example: “That the Ukraine crisis was instigated by the West’s attempt, last November, to smuggle the former Soviet republic into NATO.” In fact, despite the millions of words to this effect from the pro-Putin left, this is what the new foreign minister stated on March 29th:
Acting Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine Andriy Deschytsia has once again stated that the new Ukrainian government is not intending to lead Ukraine to NATO.
“We are considering all options regarding the strengthening of our security and collective security. But we must stick to the existing legislation of Ukraine,” he said at a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday.
The official noted that in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation Ukraine is a non-aligned state.
The other thing that does not seem to matter to Cohen is the economic basis for the Cold War, which involved irreconcilable differences between modes of production. Hitler invaded the USSR to smash public ownership of the factories, mines, and farms. After the war ended, Churchill spoke of an Iron Curtain that supposedly kept the Soviet peoples from enjoying freedom. Any fool would have understood that Churchill was talking about the freedom to exploit workers.
In today’s NY Times, there is an article (“So Far, U.S. Sanctions Over Ukraine May Be Inflicting Only Limited Pain on Russia”) that reveals why American sanctions against Russia are more gum than teeth:
The current American sanctions target 30 government officials and business leaders, as well as some of their companies. While some small Russian banks will have to stop taking Visa or MasterCard, the sanctions have not stopped major transactions or projects by those targeted. It is not clear whether the targets even have assets in the United States to freeze.
Beyond the targets themselves, large companies like Exxon Mobil, Boeing, Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens and BP have done nothing to curtail operations in Russia. The chief executives of Shell and Siemens even met separately with Mr. Putin in recent weeks, making clear business will continue, although Shell has since added that it will hold off starting new projects for now.
Exxon Mobil and BP are partners with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company led by Igor I. Sechin, who is on the American sanctions list, but both companies can continue working with Rosneft because Rosneft itself was not targeted. Just this week, the Austrian energy company OMV made a pipeline deal with the Russian company Gazprom while Germany said it would not block the sale of RWE’s oil and gas unit to the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.
Despite the fact that much of what is written in the name of Marxism today is a mixture of economic determinism and conspiracy theory, there are very few articles that take the incestuous ties between Western oil companies and their Russian partners into account. What is a war with Russia supposed to accomplish? Opening the doors to foreign investments as was the case when Brezhnev was boss? Right now Russia is the 3rd largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world, and my source for this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, RT.com:
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Russia reached a record $94 billion in 2013, a leap of 83 percent on the year before according to a United Nations report. Russia follows the US and China as the third most attractive country for investors.
The Global FDI research published by the UNCTAD – the UN agency responsible for international trade and development – has Russia jumping 6 places from its 9th spot in 2012.
The shift was primarily caused by the UK’s BP taking an 18.5 percent stake in Rosneft as part of Rosneft’s $57 billion acquisition of TNK-BP.
“FDI in the Russian Federation is expected to keep pace with its 2013 performance as the Russian Government’s Direct Investment Fund [RDIF] – a $10 billion fund to promote FDI in the country – has been very actively deployed in collaboration with foreign partners, for example funding a deal with Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Mubadala Development Company to invest up to $5 billion in Russian infrastructure,” the report says.
One of the things I have learned about capitalist Russia over the years is the degree to which every impudent challenge to the Kremlin by its former colonies is depicted as a NATO plot designed to “open up” Russia to imperialist penetration. For example, in 2004 the Party of Socialism and Liberation stated that “If it were to succeed in separation from Russia, Chechnya would join the league of former Soviet lands that are now ‘hosts’ to U.S. and NATO occupation, and whose wealth is exploited for foreign profiteers.” Basically, it didn’t matter that the Chechens were the victims of a Nazi-style blitzkrieg. The minute a country like Ukraine, Georgia or Chechnya gets on the wrong side of the Kremlin, it becomes a tool of imperialist penetration willy-nilly.
Returning to Stephen F. Cohen, I am sad to say that he is not the man he used to be.
I first ran into him when I was attending the trial of the SWP against the FBI back in 1981, when I was still a sympathizer. Against the charges that the SWP was plotting a coup, Cohen testified for the plaintiffs that the Russian Revolution was a democratic movement against a minority that was determined to use violence against the soviets to preserve the status quo. He was so brilliant that Judge Griesa, a life-long Republican, kept overruling objections being made by the FBI attorneys.
So with those memories, I was terribly disappointed to hear Cohen making the case for Putin the other night on George Noory’s “Coast to Coast” radio show on WOR, an AM talk radio station in NY that is now home to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. There was a time when Cohen’s usual venue was someplace like the PBS News Hour or Charlie Rose. How the mighty have fallen.
Cohen told Noory that people had to understand that Russia was the only nation in the world that had suffered two collapses in the 20th century, one in 1917 and one in 1990. I could understand the reference to 1990 but 1917? I wonder if the SWP filed suit this year instead of in 1981 whether Cohen would be such a reliable witness. The only thing that collapsed in 1917, after all, was Czarist oppression.
Noory’s show is just one small step above Alex Jones. I usually turn it on for a minute or two late at night to hear some guest talking about vapor trails, flying saucers or why global warming is a myth. I invite you to check out the website for Coast to Coast and see for yourself. There’s a story on “Polaroid Ghost Pictures” and one on Noory’s appearance at a UFO fest.
I am not exactly sure why Noory booked Cohen but I do know that he is a big-time supporter of the Baathists. Combining his appetite for the supernatural and an affinity for Baathist rule, Noory found just the right guest back on September 4th 2013, a Nostradamus expert and prophecy scholar named John Hogue. The Coast to Coast website described Hogue’s findings:
In writing published in July, using astrological methods, Hogue correctly predicted that chemical weapons would be used in Syria. Yet, he believes there isn’t definitive evidence that the Assad regime was behind the attacks. He forecasts that eventually we’ll learn that the Free Syrian army was stealing the chemical weapons from the Assad army, and that it was al Qaeda/jihadist elements within the Free Syrian army who were trying to create a ‘false flag’ event to induce the Obama administration to act.
Reading this, I was reminded of how Trotsky once defined fascism. Although the USA is not anywhere near fascism today, there are alarming signs of a Red-Brown coalition taking shape in Europe and Russia inspired by Putin’s willingness to put the gays in their place and by his “anti-imperialist” stand against the West (excluding, of course, oil company executives from Exxon and BP, et al.) Trotsky wrote:
Fascism has opened up the depths of society for politics. Today, not only in peasant homes but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside of the twentieth century the tenth or the thirteenth. A hundred million people use electricity and still believe in the magic power of signs and exorcisms. The Pope of Rome broadcasts over the radio about the miraculous transformation of water into wine. Movie stars go to mediums. Aviators who pilot miraculous mechanisms created by man’s genius wear amulets on their sweaters. What inexhaustible reserves they possess of darkness, ignorance, and savagery! Despair has raised them to their feet fascism has given them a banner. Everything that should have been eliminated from the national organism in the form of cultural excrement in the course of the normal development of society has now come gushing out from the throat; capitalist society is puking up the undigested barbarism. Such is the physiology of National Socialism.