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Friday, July 19, 2013

Decades’ hostility, squandered opportunity: U.S.-Russia Relations

Chronic international incidents made in USA
Editing, re-reporting, brief comment by 
Carolyn Bennett

The Russian expert and professor emeritus with New York and Princeton universities, Stephen F. Cohen, is reported saying that Washington’s ‘Feckless policy elite and an uncritical media establishment’ are culpable in the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations and these nations' headlong plunge “into a new Cold War.” And what is happening started long before “911” and a whistleblower named Snowden. This is some of Professor Cohen’s analysis.


Since the end of the Soviet Union, 22 years ago, Stephen Cohen says, the United States under one after leader in Washington has “lost several opportunities to create a meaningful cooperative relationship between Washington and Moscow (the United States and the Russian Federation).

William Jefferson Clinton - Barack Hussein Obama

“Although the U.S. political-media establishment routinely blames (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” Cohen says, “the movement toward Cold War ─ instead of partnership with post-Soviet Russia ─ began almost a decade before (Putin) came to the Kremlin.” The regression started “in the 1990s … under the Clinton administration, whose tenure “initiated the three basic components of what has remained Washington’s Russia policy, from George W. Bush to Obama:

…expanding NATO (now including missile defense installations) to Russia’s borders;

…‘selective cooperation,’ which has meant concessions by Moscow without meaningful U.S. reciprocity; and

…interference, in the name of ‘democracy promotion,’ in Russia’s domestic politics

“For twenty years, this Cold War approach has had overwhelming bipartisan support among the U.S. political elite and mainstream media.”

Congress passes
Magnitsky Act
CURRENT (ongoing hostility)

In late 2012 through the spring of 2013 came enactment of an anti-Russia act.

Congress and the current president laid into law the “Magnitsky Act” banning a list of Russians from the United States; and Russia responds with its list of banned Americans, both actions signaling a return, the verge of, or a new Cold War.

Cohen said that although Congress is not itself “russophobic,” its bill was provoked by U.S. “russophobic forces.” The Congress is “just uninformed,” he said:

It knows almost nothing about Russia. Most members of Congress have no understanding of international affairs or national security.
If this is true, it is a deliberate ignorance. With all the resources at its disposal, there is no excuse for America to have an “uninformed” Congress. 

ohen says U.S.-Russian relations after enactment of “Magnitsky” were further strained with Washington’s and Moscow’s published lists of people banned from entering their countries.

The Obama administration in April 2013 published a list of 18 individuals affected by the Act:
  • Artyom Kuznetsov, a tax investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Pavel Karpov, a senior investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Oleg F. Silchenko, a senior investigator for the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Olga Stepanova, head of Moscow Tax Office No. 28
  • Yelena Stashina, Tverskoy District Court judge who prolonged Magnitsky's detention
  • Andrey Pechegin, deputy head of the investigation supervision division of the general prosecutor's office
  • Aleksey Droganov
  • Yelena Khimina
  • Dmitriy Komnov
  • Aleksey Krivoruchko
  • Oleg Logunov
  • Sergei G. Podoprigorov
  • Ivan Pavlovitch Prokopenko
  • Dmitri M. Tolchinskiy
  • Svetlana Ukhnalyova
  • Natalya V. Vinogradova
  • Kazbek Dukuzov, Chechen acquitted of the murder of Paul Klebnikov
  • Lecha Bogatyrov, implicated by Austrian authorities as the murderer of Umar Israilov

U.S. President signs
Magnitsky Act
Russian Federation
President Vladimir Putin
After the Act became law, the Russian government denied Americans’ adoption of Russian children, issued a list of U.S. officials prohibited from entering Russia, and posthumously convicted Magnitsky as guilty.  On December 19, 2012, the State Duma (Russian legislature) voted 400 to 4 to ban the international adoption of Russian children into the United States. The bill was unofficially named after Dmitri Yakovlev (Chase Harrison), a Russian toddler who died in 2008 of heat stroke after being neglect by his adoptive American father. In later actions, Russia introduced a law to prevent U.S. citizens from working with political NGOs in Russia and another law, later abandoned, to prevent any foreigner from speaking on state television if they discredited the Russian state.

On April 13, 2013, Russia released a list naming 18 Americans banned from entering the Russian Federation over their alleged human rights violations, as a direct response to the Magnitsky list. The people banned from Russia are:

U.S. officials involved in legalizing torture and indefinite detention of prisoners (The Guantanamo List):
·         David Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (2005–2009)
·         John Yoo, Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (2001–2003)
·         Geoffrey D. Miller, retired U.S. Army Major General, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2002–2003)
·         Jeffrey Harbeson, U.S. Navy officer, commandant of JTF-GTMO (2010–2012)

The Russians also banned several U.S. officials involved in the prosecution and trial of Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout and drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko, both serving prison time in the United States:
·                     Jed Rakoff
·                     Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York
·                     Preet Bharara
·                     US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
·                     Michael J. Garcia
·                     former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
·                     Brendan R. McGuire
·                     Assistant US Attorney
·                     Anjan S. Sahni
·                     Assistant US Attorney
·                     Christian R. Everdell
·                     Assistant US Attorney
·                     Jenna Minicucci Dabbs
·                     Assistant US Attorney
·                     Christopher L. Lavigne
·                     Assistant US Attorney
·                     Michael Max Rosensaft
·                     Assistant US Attorney
·                     Louis J. Milione
·                     Special Agent US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
·                     Sam Gaye
·                     Senior Special Agent US DEA
·                     Robert F. Zachariasiewicz
·                     Special Agent US DEA
·                     Derek S. Odney
·                     Special Agent US DEA
·                     Gregory A. Coleman
·                     Special Agent US Federal Bureau of Investigation

Cohen calls “Magnitsky”  “a serious blow to U.S.-Russia relations.” Worsening an “already bad political atmosphere in Washington,” the Act now institutionalizes “a kind of a prejudicial approach to Russia that’s going to continue; it won’t be possible to end the Magnitsky Act.”

Choice of the
Corrupt and
Made in USA
And any attempts at rapprochement have been rebuffed by Washington. One opportunity, Cohen observes, began with the tragedy of the recent bombing in Boston “when it was clear that we (the United States) needed a lot of cooperation in counter terrorism between Moscow and Washington.” Another missed opportunity, he says, was “the Syrian civil war, or whatever it is, spun out of control, … the worst crisis in the Middle East in many years; and while it appeared that Washington and Moscow were ready to try and do something about that,” they didn’t; “and then came Snowden, … clearly a setback and (a test of leadership) for both President Putin and President Obama.” 
Made in USA

Thanks to a “Feckless policy elite and an uncritical media establishment,” Stephen Cohen says, U.S.-Russian relations are deteriorating and these two powerful nations “are plunging into a new Cold War.”

n public affairs foreign and domestic the United States led by a corrupt, entrenched and inept cabal continues to cause regression and serious breakdown. What a waste.

Cohen was talking about the expanding U.S. surveillance state, some of which has been exposed by Snowden, when he said Americans must raise and debate some serious questions, and not be stymied in this imperative by a rogue government.

Are we Americans prepared to give up all freedoms fought for ─ for 200 years ─ and allow the government to commit possibly illegal surveillance?

Should we make a trade-off between our fears and our privacy?

Should we in the post-911 era allow our fears to wage endless wars, make commonplace the intolerable and the lawless; and so relinquish the possibility and promise bequeathed to the people of the United States of America?

Sources and notes

“‘Authoritarian regime’ in the Russian media vs. ‘democratic’ U.S. mainstream media in the context of the new Cold War” (Stephen F. Cohen commentary first published in The Nation on January 16, 2013), January 23, 2013, http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_23/Authoritarian-regime-in-the-Russian-media-vs-democratic-US-mainstream-media-in-the-context-of-the-new-Cold-War/

“How Obama can avert another Cold War - Stephen F. Cohen,” February 19, 2013, http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_19/How-Obama-can-avert-another-Cold-War-Stephen-F-Cohen/

“‘Obama can’t afford a fair trial for Snowden’ - Stephen Cohen” (Op-Edge), July 19, 2013 [Snowden issue a test of leadership ability for Putin and Obama …:  New York University Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies Stephen Cohen (AFP Photo / Dmitry Kostyukov)]

“Magnitsky Act the result of ‘know-nothing Congress and lack of leadership from White House’” (Op-Edge), Published time: April 14, 2013, http://rt.com/op-edge/magnitsky-lists-stephen-cohen-828/

Relations between Russia and the United States, already marred by “disputes over missile defense, the Middle East and Russia’s internal politics,” have become more strained after the United States passed the Magnitsky Act … and Russia replied with a law prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian orphans ─  Stephen F. Cohen

Read more: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_21/Political-media-establishment-culpable-for-strained-US-Russia-relations-Cohen/

Stephen F. Cohen is an expert on Russia and professor emeritus of New York University and Princeton University.


In 2009, lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating fraud involving Russian tax officials.

In the United States, the Magnitsky Act (formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012) originated in a bill sponsored by Maryland Democrat, Senator Ben Cardin; its intention: “to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and use of their banking system.” It evidenced mounting tensions between the United States and Russia. The U.S. Congress passed the bill in November–December 2012 and U.S. President Barack Obama signed it into law on December 14, 2012.


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