News Release

Russiagate Frenzy “Threatens to End Superpower Diplomacy”


STEPHEN F. COHEN, sfc1 at, and via Caitlin Graf, caitlin at
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Cohen is professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University.

He is author of the just-released book War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate. He just wrote “Anti-Trump Frenzy Threatens to End Superpower Diplomacy” for The Nation: “Why the frenzy now? Perhaps because Russiagate promoters in high places are concerned that special counsel Robert Mueller will not produce the hoped-for ‘bombshell’ to end Trump’s presidency. Certainly, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt seems worried, demanding, ‘The president must go,’ his drop line exhorting, ‘What are we waiting for?’ …

“One of The New York Times’ own recent ‘bombshells,’ published on January 12, reported, for example, that in spring 2017, FBI officials ‘began investigating whether [President Trump] had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.’ None of the three reporters bothered to point out that those ‘agents and officials’ almost certainly included ones later reprimanded and retired by the FBI itself for their political biases. (As usual, the Times buried its self-protective disclaimer deep in the story: ‘No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.’)

“In preparing U.S.-Russian (Soviet and post-Soviet) summits since the 1950s, aides on both sides have arranged ‘private time’ for their bosses for two essential reasons: so they can develop sufficient personal rapport to sustain any policy partnership they decide on; and so they can alert one another to constraints on their policy powers at home, to foes of such détente policies often centered in their respective intelligence agencies. (The KGB ran operations against Nikita Khrushchev’s détente policies with Eisenhower, and, as is well established, U.S. intelligence agencies have run operations against Trump’s proclaimed goal of ‘cooperation with Russia.’)

That is, in the modern history of U.S.-Russian summits, we are told by a former American ambassador who knows, the ‘secrecy of presidential private meetings…has been the rule, not the exception.’ He continues, ‘There’s nothing unusual about withholding information from the bureaucracy about the president’s private meetings with foreign leaders…. Sometimes they would dictate a memo afterward, sometimes not.’ Indeed, President Richard Nixon, distrustful of the U.S. ‘bureaucracy,’ sometimes met privately with Kremlin leader Leonid Brezhnev while only Brezhnev’s translator was present.

“Nor should we forget the national-security benefits that have come from private meetings between U.S. and Kremlin leaders. In February 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, meeting alone with their translators, decided that all nuclear weapons should be abolished. The result, in 1987, was the first and still only treaty abolishing an entire category of such weapons, the exceedingly dangerous intermediate-range ones. (This is the historic treaty Trump has said he may abrogate.)

“And yet, congressional zealots are now threatening to subpoena the American translator who was present during Trump’s meetings with Putin. If this recklessness prevails, it will be the end of the nuclear-superpower summit diplomacy that has helped to keep America and the world safe from catastrophic war for nearly 70 years — and as a new, more perilous nuclear arms race between the two countries is unfolding.”

This commentary is based on the most recent of Cohen’s weekly discussions of the new U.S.-Russian Cold War with the host of the John Batchelor radio show. Cohen’s previous books include Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.