News Release

Trump-Putin Meeting: “Will U.S. Elites Give Détente With Russia a Chance?”

Trump Putin VietnamSTEPHEN F. COHEN, sfc1 at nyu.edu
Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University. A Nation contributing editor, he is the author, most recently, of War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.

He just wrote the piece “Will U.S. Elites Give Détente With Russia a Chance?” which states: “Despite determined attempts in Washington to sabotage such a ‘summit,’ as I reported previously, President Trump and Russian President Putin are still scheduled to meet at the G-20 gathering in Japan this week. Iran will be at the top of their agenda. The Trump administration seems determined to wage cold, possibly even hot, war against the Islamic Republic, while for Moscow, as emphasized by the Kremlin’s national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, on June 25, ‘Iran has been and will be an ally and partner of ours.’

“Indeed, the importance of Iran (along with China) to Russia can hardly be overstated. Among other reasons, as the West’s military alliance encroaches ever more along Russia’s western borders, Iran is a large, vital non-NATO neighbor. Still more, Teheran has done nothing to incite Russia’s own millions of Muslim citizens against Moscow. Well before Trump, powerful forces in Washington have long sought to project Iran as America’s primary enemy in the Middle East, but for Moscow it is a necessary ‘ally and partner.’

“In normal political circumstances, Trump and Putin could probably diminish any potential U.S.-Russian conflict over Iran — and the one still brewing in Syria as well. But both leaders come to the summit with related political problems at home. For Trump, they are the unproven but persistent allegations of ‘Russiagate.’ For Putin, they are economic.

“As I have also previously explained, while there was fairly traditional ‘meddling,’ there was no ‘Russian attack’ on the 2016 American presidential election. But for many mainstream American commentators, including the editorial page editor of the Washington Post, it is an ‘obvious truth’ and likely to happen again in 2020, adding ominously that Trump is still ‘cozying up to the chief perpetrator, Russian President Vladimir Putin.’ A New York Times columnist goes further, insisting that Russia ‘helped to throw the election’ to Trump. Again, there is no evidence whatsoever for these allegations. Also consider the ongoing assault on Attorney General William Barr, whose current investigation into the origins of ‘Russiagate’ threatens to conclude that the scandal originated not with Russia but with U.S. intelligence agencies under President Obama, in particular with the CIA under John Brennan.

“We should therefore not be surprised, despite possible positive national security results of the Trump-Putin summit in Japan, if the U.S. president is again widely accused of ‘treason,’ as he so shamefully was following his meeting with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018, and as I protested at that time. Even the Times’ once-dignified columnist pages thundered, ‘Trump, Treasonous Traitor’ and ‘Putin’s Lackey,’ while senior U.S. senators, Democrat and Republican alike, did much the same.”