Liberal Professor Calls Russian Frenzy a Form of Liberal McCarthyism


The Steven Lehrer Show went over the Russian “hacking” accusations with Steven Cohen, Princeton’s Professor Emeritus of Russian history and a contributor to The Nation. Cohen reviewed the false narratives of what he calls the new Cold War and readers should know that he is no Trump fan.

He states the one obvious fact that keeps getting lost in the Russian hacking frenzy – we don’t have any facts!

He said we are in a new Cold War with Russia that is so dangerous we could end up in a hot war.  He said we have three Cold War fronts: NATO is doing a dangerous buildup in The Baltic’s, we have the Ukraine, and then there is Syria. There are no rules or Code of Conduct as there were in the 1960s and we have fallen back on the McCarthyite habit of slurring people who present an opinion that is contrary to the going one. We’ve shut down debate.

This Cold War is as dangerous or worse than it was in 1962, he says.

We’ve begun to slur people who don’t agree. Instead of calm debate, we have McCarthyism. The danger in our relationship with Russia is as bad as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We had two rational actors then, Kennedy and Kruschev, men who knew what war meant and he is not sure we have those rational actors today.

Ironically, liberals are engaging in the name calling and are building up the Cold War, Cohen says. It is liberals who are trying to stoke a Cold War, while Trump is trying to calm the situation.

In a democracy, you fight through discourse – debate – but the New York Times and MSNBC won’t allow this debate. There is no arguing that the US is partly to blame, it’s only Russia, there’s no debate.

Young journalists are afraid to speak out and that’s McCarthyism. When the NY Times and Paul Krugman call Trump a colluder with Putin, they stop debate.

Trump said two wise things during the election and he was the only candidate who did: first, he refused to demonize Putin, and second, he asked wouldn’t it be great to cooperate with Russia?

If we are asked if the aggregate of the mainstream media or our government or Russia puts out inaccurate information, we would put Russia to shame. We need contrasting opinions to conflict publicly and we don’t have that. What we have now is one hand clapping.

He was asked about the story of Russian hacking. He said the reality of it is it goes back to about August when they decided to run, not against Trump and Pence, but Trump and Putin. It was a form of Kremlin baiting that used to be called red baiting.

So far, no actual facts are presented in the NY Times article on Wednesday. The FBI is not going along. When the issue first came up, they were highly dubious. Even the CIA says they can’t link any of this to The Kremlin.

All they are certain about is someone in Russia did the hacking and that is something that evolved as well. It could have come from Russia but they don’t know if it came from Putin.

They don’t know if the DNC and Clinton were hacked. There is reason to believe they are leaks.

We will only get second and third accounts if the full estimate is done. There is a large group of retired intelligence agents called Veterans Intelligence Officers for Sanity (an anti-war group) and they issued a report on They think it was leaking, not hacking. If they are right, we are having the wrong discussion.

We don’t even know there are 17 intelligence agencies but the fact is that there have been no formal estimates o nthis issue which will take months, they have only given assessments – opinions – and they are not telling us where they are getting this information.

We are meanwhile polluting our discourse with Russia at an extremely difficult time.

Cohen was asked two difficult questions during this discussion.