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Stephen F. Cohen is an American scholar who knows Russia and teaches Russian studies at New York University. He writes about Russia, too, and his articles appear in The Nation. He also happens to be married to Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation's editor.

Cohen attracted some attention recently with an article The Nation published, titled, Distorting Russia, How the American media misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine. It comes as a surprise to see a purported liberal writing for a Progressive magazine as an ardent defender of Vladimir Putin. Cohen says Putin has been treated unfairly.

Today he appeared on Democracy Now! for a long interview with Amy Goodman and Juan González. By coincidence, I had just been chastised for expressing some doubt about Goodman's show lately. And there was Cohen, Putin's biggest fan, but what was he doing on Democracy Now!?

I don't think of myself as having knee-jerk opinions. I like to dig deep into details to learn more about political issues than what's readily available. My opinions on every subject aren't written in stone. I can absorb new information and admit when I'm wrong.

But how am I supposed to figure out Cohen on Putin? Remember, it's the tea party Bolsheviks who love Putin, the ex-KGB agent who demonizes gays, and pushes traditional values, a term that leaves plenty of room for political repression and bigotry.

I listened to the interview anyway. It's mainly about the grim situation in Ukraine. I posted a diary about the situation there a couple of weeks ago after a phone call between  Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Geoffrey R. Pyatt, US Ambassador to Ukraine, was mysteriously intercepted and the recorded conversation was released to the public. Summing up the discussion between  between Nuland and Pyatt, I commented:

"it came out that “Fuck the EU,” is now an element of US foreign policy."
I wanted to hear if Cohen's analysis of the escalating conflict in Ukraine overlapped at all with my understanding of it. I wasn't expecting to hear him accuse the Obama Administration of "plotting a coup d'etat against the elected president of Ukraine."

It comes at the 16 minute mark in the video below.

Cohen doesn't back away from the accusation. He goes on to condemn hypocrisy in Washington and Brussels for talking about democracy while planning a coup.

While Cohen has some interesting observations, I didn't get the impression that Nuland and Pyatt were discussing plans for a coup. To me, it seemed that they were talking about the possibility of Arseniy Yatseniuk taking a position in the Yanukovych government while excluding the other two opposition leaders they mentioned.

The recorded conversation was heard by many people and no one else has suggested that a coup was in the works till today. If anyone else is interested in having a listen to the intercepted phone call, here it is. A transcript of the conversation is below.

Nuland: What do you think?

Pyatt:  I think we're in play. The Klitschko [Vitaly Klitschko, one of three main opposition leaders] piece is obviously the complicated electron here. Especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister and you've seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now so we're trying to get a read really fast, on where he is on this stuff. But I think your argument to him, which you'll need to make, I think that's the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader]. And I'm glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I'm very glad that he said what he said in response.

Nuland: Good. I don't think Klitsch should go into the government. I don't think it's necessary, I don't think it's a good idea.

Pyatt: Yeah. I guess... in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I'm just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other opposition leader] and his guys and I'm sure that's part of what [President Viktor] Yanukovych is calculating on all this.

Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. He's the... what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in... he's going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it's just not going to work.

Pyatt: Yeah, no, I think that's right. OK. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?

Nuland: My understanding from that call - but you tell me - was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context a... three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it?

Pyatt: No. I think... I mean that's what he proposed but I think, just knowing the dynamic that's been with them where Klitschko has been the top dog, he's going to take a while to show up for whatever meeting they've got and he's probably talking to his guys at this point, so I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it before they all sit down and he explains why he doesn't like it.

Nuland: OK, good. I'm happy. Why don't you reach out to him and see if he wants to talk before or after.

Pyatt: OK, will do. Thanks.

Nuland: OK... one more wrinkle for you Geoff. [A click can be heard] I can't remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?

Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.

Nuland: OK. He's now gotten both Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.

Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we've got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. And again the fact that this is out there right now, I'm still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych (garbled) that. In the meantime there's a Party of Regions faction meeting going on right now and I'm sure there's a lively argument going on in that group at this point. But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast. So let me work on Klitschko and if you can just keep... we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.

Nuland: So on that piece Geoff, when I wrote the note [US vice-president's national security adviser Jake] Sullivan's come back to me VFR [direct to me], saying you need [US Vice-President Joe] Biden and I said probably tomorrow for an atta-boy and to get the deets [details] to stick. So Biden's willing.

Pyatt: OK. Great. Thanks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  is cohen serious? (12+ / 0-)

    one will hear whatever one wants to hear, i suppose.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:32:29 PM PST

    •  He seems to be serious. He has a whole other (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rbird, Brecht

      interpretation of the protest movement.  They should have waited till the next election and he doesn't agree with calling them peaceful. He's knowledgeable but extremely biased in favor of Russia and Putin.

      I understand that people can have nuanced opinions. Everything doesn't boil down to Rox/Sux.  But I have a hard time seeing it Cohen's way.

      This isn't the first time I had the feeling Democracy Now was a little criss-crossed lately. But Cohen is married to Katrina vanden Heuvel who's reliably Progressive. Are they stealth 1%'ers leading people astray?

      Who knows?

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:43:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. I am no expert in that part of the world, (13+ / 0-)

      but I have spent quite a bit of time in eastern Ukraine. I think that Cohen is just plain wrong here.

    •  Cohen is correct. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      svboston, lysias

      When talking about bias, do not discount your own. As my brother said, "if you want a to see a biased person, take a look in the mirror."

      Cohen is a "...professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University in Princeton University..."

      So let's give him a shadow of a doubt on his knowledge and his POV of the situation. Maybe, just maybe, the expert is right this time. Or more right than wrong. :-)

      From the interview above and the previous debate at Democracy Now

      what happened was something along these lines:
      1. Ukraine needed a bailout
      2. The West said, "Here's some money. But the catch is you have to cut off ties with Russia, and join the EU and only the EU."
      3. Putin said, "Hey, yo, what's with the ultimatum? Why can't we get along? Why don't you give money, we give money, and we remain good neighbors, no?"
      4. The West said, "Nope. We'll give you our austerity program, similar to what we gave Greece, but you'll have to cut off ties with Russia."

      The (corrupt) Ukrainian government rejected EU's offer, the 40% of Ukraine that is pro-West protested, the 40% of Ukraine that is pro-Rusia "protested" back, and things went downhill from there.

      This internal division within Ukraine is apparently exploited by the West. The EU is grooming Vitaly Klitschko, the US is backing Arseniy Yatseniuk. But whoever of these two becomes the power in Ukraine, the result will be a virtual Iron Curtain drawn across Ukraine; Ukraine will be the Germany of this Neo-Cold War.

      Apparently, according to Cohen, even Putin is disgusted by the way President Yanukovych's incompetence in dealing with the protesters.

      Also, the interview shows a clip of the leader of the Pro-Democracy faction basically saying that he's lost control of his faction.

      In my totally non-expert opinion, Cohen is more right than wrong in this matter.

      •  Cohen is "Putin's biggest fan"? (0+ / 0-)

        That's not true and not fair.

      •  The EU admission process is nothing like what you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        described in points #2, #3, and #4 in your list. This is Cohen's story and it sounds ridiculous. In what forum would this amateurish deal making take place?

        Cohen is an academic and he knows that there's a difference between international relations and a love triangle. Does he think no one out here is involved with the EU and everyone is in the dark? I'd love to know what, specifically, he can produce to back up the tale he's telling.

        The admission process takes years for most countries. To become integrated politically and economically can take longer for a country that's historically different from western Europe. The process is handled by setting benchmarks and measuring progress. Ukraine was proceeding steadily toward its goals until reversals that began after Yanukovych came to power.

        In December 2012, the EU Council issued a statement:

        The EU reaffirmed the goal of political and economic integration based on the respect for common values, with the pace to be assessed on the basis of progress in three areas:

        1. Compliance and follow-up actions to reach international standards for holding elections. The conduct of the October 28, 2012 parliamentary elections presented a mixed picture with several shortcomings and constituted a deterioration in several areas compared to standards previously achieved.
        2. Addressing the issue of selective justice and preventing its recurrence, Specifically, the Council noted the politically motivated convictions of members of the former Government after trials which did not respect international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal process which prevented opposition leaders from standing in the parliamentary elections.
        3. Implementation of  reforms as previously agreed to fight against corruption, especially in the management of public finance.

        In June 2013, the EU issued a comprehensive restatement of Ukraine's obligations, a periodic update to the original agreement.  

        The EU members have ties to Russia. Germany imports natural gas from Russia. I'd like to see where the EU would have called for Ukraine to cut off ties to Russia.
        I'm calling bullshit on that.

        There is no existence without doubt.

        by Mark Lippman on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:16:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd be curious to see what Condoleeza Rice (0+ / 0-)

        has to say, as she too is a Soviet (Russian) expert. That Cohen is too is not enough for me to believe he's serious that the US (which YES, has directly caused coups all over the planet) has any hand in the troubles in the Ukraine beyond what our private sector arms dealers are selling them and a strategic interest in getting Russia.

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

        by terrypinder on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 11:43:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Condi Rice once made the mistake of allowing (0+ / 0-)

          herself to be interviewed on Russian radio.  Her Russian was so bad that Russian listeners were amused.  Her Russian was so bad that even I, with my limited Russian, could hear mistakes.

          The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

          by lysias on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:23:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Recc'd for discussion purposes...n/t (11+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:34:59 PM PST

  •  It does seem plausible to me (10+ / 0-)

    that Ukraine is caught in the middle of a power struggle between West and East. I would be inclined to say that the tugging from the West is coming more from the EU than the US, but they are likely working in concert.

    Putin is playing a power role that anybody who controlled Russia has played. It goes back to the tsars. Stalin followed in their footsteps. A land locked empire cannot be indifferent about its borders.

  •  I listened to Cohen on the (16+ / 0-)

    Diane Rehm show about 5 months ago and he was basically a Putin apologist, it was breathtaking. This supposed liberal was trivializing the anti-gay laws as being trumped up by the west, it was amazing. So take what he says about Russia with a gargantuan grain of salt.

    •  I'm a skeptic to the core. I question myself. I (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, jan4insight, kaliope

      just appear to be an overly opinionated asshole . . . sometimes. It's deceptive like that.

      His article I linked at The Nation is followed by all sorts of anti-gay comments. In the article itself, he criticized anti-gay bias in Ukraine but he didn't go out of his way to apply it to Russia as well.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:55:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heard This Accusation Discussed On an NPR (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, raincrow

    panel this afternoon. I'd bet he wasn't a participant; the guests seemed to be concluding this on their own, in the portions I caught in the car they didn't seem to be citing anyone other than the 2 US diplomats.

    Maybe someone caught the whole discussion and can flesh it out better.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:48:46 PM PST

  •  It's quite certain that US leadership... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, dougymi, AoT, kaliope

    …would prefer leadership in Ukraine that is less cozy with Russia/Putin.

    But I've seen no evidence to suggest that the United States is providing material support to the opposition movement(s) in Ukraine. Perhaps we are, but I've seen nothing to indicate such thus far. "Coup" is a very loaded word.

    The thing is: this doesn't really seem to be about us (the US). As has been the case with most (political, not ethnic) conflicts in Eastern Europe over the past many, many years, this is largely being reported as a boilerplate East v. West dispute, when - in so far as I've read - that's not necessarily the prevailing concern on the part of the opposition. Of more concern seems to be the fact that Viktor Yanukovych, after having been democratically elected, rapidly, corruptly, and in the minds of many Ukranians, ominously, began consolidating power and authority to an alarming extent.


    "I ordered enchiladas and I ate 'em. Ali had the fruit punch." - A Tribe Called Quest

    by turnover on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 04:59:23 PM PST

    •  And that's what I understood. There's an (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, kaliope

      opposition leader in jail, Yulia Tymoshenko. I thought there was a popular protest against basic human rights violations when the demonstrations began. But Cohen says that the problems began when the EU gave Ukraine an ultimatum to choose which way it wanted to lean. East or West. That wouldn't make people pour into the streets, especially if Putin was as reasonable as Cohen claims. He says Putin proclaimed one big happy family. No need to choose sides.

      Being reasonable like that wouldn't spark a mass protest movement. Cohen must be totally full of shit.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:17:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This goes back a bunch of years (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe shikspack, AoT, kaliope, svboston

        to the Orange Revolution in 2004. Tymoshenko was mixed up in that. That was a struggle over east vs west with Putin meddling in the elections. The pot has been boiling at varying rates of intensity since then. The US was funding political groups back then.  

      •  aren't you kind of skipping over that guy... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, kaliope

        you know, the president of ukraine.  he even has his own name, which is not putin.  viktor yanukovych.  i bet he has his own personality and everything.

        perhaps some ukrainians might have more to say about yanukovych than putin.  perhaps it has something to do with his corruption.  or the fact that in three years his son, a dentist, has improbably become one of the wealthiest men in ukraine.

        your comment seems to imply that putin directly controls ukraine rather than yanukovych.  the facts to support that are not in evidence.

        i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

        by joe shikspack on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:53:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In one part of the interview they talked about the (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw, AoT, Alhambra, kaliope

          Ukraine personalities as proxies. Yanukovych for Putin, Klitschko for Merkel, Yatseniuk for the US.

          At least I didn't call them Yats and Kleech, like Nuland did. She sounded like a high school gym teacher from another era.

          The people who are invisible in the story are the voters who elected Yanukovych.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 06:23:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  mebbe, but those monikers are no doubt in use in (0+ / 0-)

            the Ukraine. Nicknaming is common.

            Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. —Nelson Mandela

            by kaliope on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 02:33:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like what half the RW trolls (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, dougymi, elmo, doroma, emelyn

    are posting on the #Kiev #Ukraine feeds on twitter. When they're not busy saying Obama "isn't doing something" stop the uprising.

    I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:02:27 PM PST

  •  I'm not surprised at all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, JackND

    given the amount of support for Snowden, a guy who clearly thinks that Putin is more supportive of freedom than Obama -- support right here on what is supposed to be a Progressive site. Apparently, being Progressive stops at the US border.

  •  while i might not go so far as calling it a coup.. (8+ / 0-)

    attempt, i think that the us and the eu are certainly busy trying to exploit a cultural divide in ukraine for political purposes.  victoria nuland has said that the us has spent $5 billion dollars in "the development of democratic institutions in ukraine."  $5 billion is a pile of money.  one is left to wonder just what it was spent on.  i mean you can't just say, "i went out to the democracy store and bought $5 billion dollars worth of democracy."

    the protesters are also not exactly all like the occupiers on wall street.  some of them seem to lack a deep  committment to peaceful change, much less the sort of liberal democracy that we might want to purchase with our $5 billion.

    it appears to me that cohen is probably more on target than a lot of folks would like to credit him with at a site that is deeply supportive of anything that the president does.

    i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

    by joe shikspack on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:14:12 PM PST

  •  I'll give Cohen one point (6+ / 0-)

    Once a revolution begins - there's no telling how the aftermath will look. He seems to be convinced that "Fascists" are now in the forefront and on the front lines.

    Although I'm a "power to the people" adherent from way back - I know that I don't know enough regarding Kiev, or the Ukraine beyond the fact that the loss of life and snipers taking kill-shots is horrible, and it doesn't look as if this will end well anytime soon.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:18:46 PM PST

  •  US only a secondary player here (6+ / 0-)

    The real dispute in Ukraine is between the EU supporters (Euromaidan) and Putin's cronies (Yanukovych)

  •  An observation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, TealVeal, Alhambra

    If the Republican's have their way America will be just like Putin's Russia. Russia has highest income inequality in the world. Fundamentalist religion based oligarchy. Anti Gay, Racism and xenophobia are rampant. A Republican's dream.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:36:31 PM PST

  •  Katrina vanden Heuvel Is Turning Into (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, akeitz

    one of those people who is an elite that pretends to care about progressive ideas.  She is very ineffective and most of the time has very little substance to say.  I would rather have ten Krugmans on Sunday shows then Katrina.  It now makes sense knowing who she is married to.  

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 05:44:59 PM PST

    •  The Nation is generally a good read (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, Mr Robert

      and on the whole has sound progressive credentials IMO. They cover inequality and other topics the mainstream media does not. I've read at least one of Cohen's books, which was informative. But it does sound like he has gone a bit over the edge here. Putin has very publicly taken the line that the U.S. is interfering in Ukrainian politics and should butt out. But the Russians themselves have clear preferences about what kind of government they want in Ukraine and what policies it should follow.

      And without a deep understanding of it, it appears to me the current unrest is driven by the crackdown on dissent in Ukraine. The protesters feel they don't have a voice in government and are being denied even the right of protest. There has been appalling violence, and some of it is on the protest side. But there are real grievances.

      •  When Russia intervened in Cuba, that was (0+ / 0-)

        destabilizing.  When we intervene in Ukraine, that too is destabilizing.

        Great powers should be willing to recognize the spheres of influence of other great powers.

        This Ukraine business, if it continues to be mishandled, could possibly lead to a world war, which nobody should want.

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:30:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Reminds me of the... (0+ / 0-)

    rabbi in "Religulous" what went to Teheran to visit  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 07:04:42 PM PST

  •  Cohen's point... (8+ / 0-)

    Cohen's point was that in the Nuland-Pyatt conversation, top US figures express approval of having a quasi-fascist figure (Arseniy Yatsenyuk) in government. Whether they are actively promoting those figures or simply expressing approval of them is unclear. But what is clear is, as Cohen says, that by refusing to condemn extremely violent protestors and by refusing to approve any aid to the Ukraine that includes a Russian component, the US is contributing to the paralysis of the moderate center. This empowers extremists. The end result, as Cohen points out, is the danger of new Cold War, this time with nuclear war on a hair trigger, since the buffer zone around the old USSR is gone.  

    Furthermore, US involvement in destabilizing governments is part of a pattern that I discuss in a blog post here and for which I did a long series on DK regarding Honduras (see here for the latest installment).

    I'm sure our State Department has the highest motivations. Unfortunately, based on contact with and reports of contact with high-level members, they seem to be smug, insular, poorly informed, and out of touch. So, what they are doing with the most wonderful ideals is the most idiotic and destructive policy one could imagine.  

    •  I accidentally happened to listen to the Goodman/ (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe shikspack, Mr Robert, PhilK

      Cohen conversation and my reaction was the same as yours in your first paragraph.

    •  He's not the only quasi-fascist around (0+ / 0-)

      I have little faith in Yanukovych's commitment to democracy and the Rule of Law. Do you?

      •  He was elected. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Cohen's point is that in getting a democratic system going in a place that has known only despotism, there have to be a series of elections in which power is transferred peacefully. Yanukovych may be, as Cohen concedes, a corrupt rat, but he was democratically elected.

        Other countries have the right to elect people that we hate. If we deny them that right, are we committed to democracy?  

        •  I don't know whether Yanukovych was democratically (0+ / 0-)

          elected. I don't have information about that election in front of me. There is a reason to complain about the Parliamentary elections of 2012 because there were some opposition figures who were prevented from running for election. This is an issue that the EU addressed formally, in writing with Yanukovych because election compliance with international standards was one of the conditions for admission. Compliance applies to election day and it applies to remedial corrective action when irregularities are discovered.

          So it's disingenuous to say that Yanukovich was democratically elected and to condemn the protesters with allegations that they attacked the Parliament without telling the whole story. It was Yanukovich who orchestrated the undemocratic and unfair elections of 2012.

          Cohen betrays himself by the parts of the story he doesn't tell. Omission is a lie and he's a liar.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:16:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know whether GW Bush was democratically... (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know whether GW Bush was democratically elected. In fact, I'm pretty sure he wasn't. If there had been violent street demonstrations of the kind that we've seen in the Ukraine, no Nation on earth would have condemned the newly elected (or not so much) president for cracking down hard.  

            Cohen is an academic, a professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. He has no axe to grind. To accuse him without any evidence of being a liar is outrageous and disgusting.

            •  You want links? Try asking for them politely. (0+ / 0-)

              Cohen is an academic, a professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University . . .

              And that means he's full of shit without having the luxury of an excuse.

              After the 15th EU-Ukraine Summit which was held in Kyiv, December 2011, President Viktor Yanukovytch and the EU leaders were literally on the same page. They issued a joint statement together.


              The EU admission process includes goals and benchmarks that have to be met.  A year later, in December 2012, the EU noted that there was a reversal in the progress that Ukraine had made earlier. The October 2012 Parliamentary elections didn't comply with international standards for democracy. The EU stated at that time that Ukraine's desire for admission depended on electoral, judicial, and fiscal reforms outline here:


              In June 2013, the EU issued a more comprehensive progress report on the status of Ukraine's association with the EU.


              On November 21, 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine decided to suspend preparations to sign the Association Agreement.

              These are documented historical facts. You and Cohen don't get to tell part of the story, omit other parts, and fabricate the rest. Stick to facts and use materials that come straight from the source.

              There is no existence without doubt.

              by Mark Lippman on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 10:21:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Clearly you do not understand (0+ / 0-)

                Clearly you do not understand how ridiculous rebuttal is.

                There's no argument that the Ukraine is less than democratic. There's no argument that  Yanukovych is not a good man. Cohen calls him a "rat."  But you have used little besides ad hominem in attacking Cohen who, contrary to your claims, has been rather clear that the Yanukovych government is authoritarian.

                The list of particulars that the EU cites as reason for delaying membership? The US would fail the same tests if they were fairly administered.

                * Torture? US prisons, not to mention Guantanamo and foreign US prisons are rife with such practices.
                * Lack of independence of judiciary?  See Citizens United for an example of how an oligarchy controls a branch of government.
                * Lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms? The US has numerous political prisoners and routinely violates fundamental freedoms in suppressing demonstrations and preventing people from voting.

                One can go on. Human rights reports are notoriously manipulated by powerful countries to single out and isolate less powerful countries. We saw it with Honduras, where the West was able to see how rotten the judicial system was when the guy they didn't like was in power, but barely blinked when the dictatorship killed, disappeared, tortured, and jailed many, many political dissenters. Up until the last few weeks, Ukraine barely registered. The very fact that it was being considered for EU membership makes that clear.  

                To link such a report, not quoting whatever you think your....evidence--- is, is laughable. Sure, link the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Chicago Manual of Style, the Yellow Pages, and claim that it supports your statement that Cohen is a liar.

                That is not arguing from facts. That is disgraceful.  

                •  You're in a discussion on your own, unrelated to (0+ / 0-)

                  anything I've said.

                  I'm not citing the US as exemplary compared to others. I wrote about Victoria ('Fuck the EU') Nuland's intercepted call the day it was released to the public. I pointed out that the conversation didn't reflect democratic values. The piece is available near the top of the list of titles I posted as it is still fairly recent.

                  I didn't think then, and I don't think now, that there was a coup d'etat being planned, or in progress. Cohen is irresponsible to suggest such a thing without knowing what was said in the other conversations referenced during that intercepted call.

                  Is Cohen suggesting that Ban Ki Moon and Robert Serry were involved in the coup as well? At the end of the call Nuland said they were going to help glue it together. Clearly they were talking about managing egos and personalities but if Cohen wants to insist that everyone mentioned was plotting a coup, he should think carefully about the scope of his accusation.

                  I deal in documented facts, not gossip or hallucinations.
                  To bring the story of Ukraine's involvement with the EU back down to Earth, I linked a few benchmark documents from the relevant period after Yanokovytch took over.  I write about the EU frequently especially in regard to the action it may take to protect the privacy of  European citizens from the mass surveillance activities of the NSA.

                  Ukraine was still years away from admission to the EU. About the qualification standards and the pace of progress, I have to say that the EU makes the rules for its club. What the EU expects has nothing to do with the systemic failures in American institutions and society.

                  Ukraine would need fiscal reform before the EU would consider admission. It's ironic for people to anticipate neo-liberal economic policy imposed on Ukraine when it hasn't even addressed the corruption that seems to be endemic in its government.

                  There is no existence without doubt.

                  by Mark Lippman on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:07:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Yatsenyuk isn't the opposition leader who leans (0+ / 0-)

      fascist. That's Tyahnybok.

      The key is in a line from the phone conversation:

      Especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister
      If Nuland and Pyatt were talking about plans for a coup, they were a little late. Yanokovytch offered Yatsenyuk the deputy prime minister position two weeks before Nuland showed up in Kyiv as reported by the BBC.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 04:31:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the Ukrainian system... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am agnostic on whether Newland and Pyatt were discussing a coup. What is clear is that they approve of a guy who is in deep with extremists.

        But I have to ask, what does that report of a proffered deal actually mean?  Who holds the power in the Ukrainian system? Why didn't Yatsenyuk accept, if the deal would give him substantial power?

        The US State Dept should not be expressing preferences for the elected leaders of other countries, even in private. If they feel they must, they should have better taste than Yatsenyuk.

        •  Why the State Dept preferred Yatsenyuk I have no (0+ / 0-)

          explanation. That's for State to explain. Nuland dodged when asked at the Kyiv press conference.  

          Yatsenyuk was Foreign Minister and Economic Minister in the previous administration so I can't disagree with the assessment of his experience. Compared to Klitschhko who has no experience and retired from boxing only recently. Not that I have a preference. Its not my decision but they all seem a little sketchy to me.

          I've researched Yatsenyuk. He has history. Speeches he gave. A track record. If he has a fascist leaning, he covers it up well. He sounds like he could be a European centrist. He was offered cabinet positions in the past and turned them down, so it wouldn't be a surprise that he turned last one down. My overall impression is that he wants what he wants whatever that is.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:31:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  As for Yatsenyuk's leanings... (0+ / 0-)

        It's like Greg Abbott and Ted Nugent. Nugent calls Obama a "subhuman mongrel," a statement that we might agree is racist. It's one statement of many by Nugent that would lead one to believe he despises African Americans.

        So... why is Greg Abbott hanging around with him?  

        Cohen's point is that Tyanhybok is a part of Yatsenyuk's coalition, and a powerful part, for that matter. He's the street muscle that is keeping the demonstrations going. If a cat uses a wolf to get rid of the dog that is bothering her, who is going to rule? The cat or the wolf?

    •  All too similar to 1914. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Let us hope that it does not have similar results.

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:31:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The lede that's buried here is that someone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    actually believes this administration's foreign policy and intelligence organs have heretofore demonstrated the competence and subtlety to successfully orchestrate a coup anywhere, much less on Putin's doorstep.

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