Stephen Cohen and Katrina Vanden Heuvel on the New Cold War

From Left: Moderator Daniel Treisman, Stephen Cohen, and Katrina vanden Heuvel.

“The new Cold War is more dangerous than the one we survived,” said Stephen Cohen, one of the leading experts on Russia, at a LAWAC dinner on February 27th. Cohen spoke alongside Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor at The Nation, and moderator Daniel Treisman, professor at UCLA, about the troubled relationship between Russia and the US since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Cohen laid much of the blame for the renewed conflict on the US, particularly with the intelligence services, something he called ‘intelgate’. “What the intelligence services have done, and in a way, what they didn’t do in the previous Cold War, is wildly hype what they call the Russian threat. I’m alarmed by the way they’re feeding this to the media and the American people.”

The same sentiment was echoed about the media by vanden Heuvel, who noted that there is a major misunderstanding of Russia and its citizens because mainstream media is so focused on Putin and Russiagate. “Mainstream media has failed us. History and context matter.” Vanden Heuvel praised attendees for participating in a discussion with varied viewpoints, saying that the one-sidedness of the current conversation in media will make it difficult for perceptions to change and de-escalation to occur.

There are a lot of similarities between the old and new war, said Cohen, but the biggest difference is that both Trump and Putin are considered illegitimate leaders in the US. To Cohen, however, Trump is our best bet for peace right now. “When Trump does something sensible with Russia I applaud. If you believe in détente, all you’ve got is Trump.”

Treisman pointed out that in 1954 less than 2% of Americans had a favorable view of the Soviet Union. Today, 24% of Americans have favorable view of Russia. “There’s a huge disparity between those who do and don’t have a favorable view, but a lot more Americans aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid this time.”

You can purchase Cohen's new book War with Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate by clicking here.

Los Angeles high school students at the Student Briefing with Cohen and vanden Heuvel.

Speaker Bios:

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University, where for many years he was also director of the Russian Studies Program, and Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and History at New York University. His books include Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography; Rethinking the Soviet Experience; Sovieticus; Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia and Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives. Cohen is married to Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, where he is a contributing editor. Read Stephen's articles here.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of The Nation. She is a frequent commentator on American and international politics for ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS. She writes a weekly web column for The Washington Post. She is the author of The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in The Age of Obama; Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover; and co-editor of Taking Back America—And Taking Down The Radical Right. She has received awards for public service from numerous groups, including The Liberty Hill Foundation, The Correctional Association, and The Association for American-Russian Women. In 2010, she received the Exceptional Women in Publishing Award honoring women who have made extraordinary contributions to the publishing industry. Read vanden Heuvels articles here.

Daniel Treisman is a professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Treisman's work focuses on Russian politics and economics and comparative political economy. A former interim lead editor of The American Political Science Review, he has also served as a consultant for the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and as acting director of UCLA's Center for European and Eurasian Studies. In Russia, he is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Higher School of Economics and a member of the Jury of the National Prize in Applied Economics. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford) and the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna), and has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the US and the Smith Richardson Foundation.