A Review of Prof. Stephen Cohen’s Excellent Recent Talk About the Real Putin (Video)

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by The Saker, via Russia Insider:

“He rebuilt, stabilized and modernized Russia in a way to prevent future collapses”

I have recently had the pleasure of watching a short presentation by Professor Stephen F. Cohen entitled “Rethinking Putin” which he delivered on the annual Nation cruise on December 2, 2017 (see here for the original Nation Article and original YouTube video).

In his short presentation, Professor Cohen does a superb job explaining what Putin is *not* and that includes: (but, please do watch the original video before proceeding).

  1. He is not the man who de-democratized Russia (Yeltsin and the White House did)
  2. He is not the leader who created corruption and kleptocracy in Russia (Yeltsin and the White House did)
  3. He is not a criminal leader who ordered the murder of opponents or journalists (no evidence)
  4. He did not order the hacking of the DNC servers (no evidence)
  5. He was not anti-US or anti-West from the get-go (Putin changed over time)
  6. He is not a neo-Soviet leader (he is very critical of Lenin and Stalin)
  7. He is not an aggressive foreign policy leader (he has been a reactive leader)
  8. He is not somehow defined by his years at the KGB.

Professor Cohen ended his talk by suggesting a few things which might form a part of a future honest biography:

  1. As a young and inexperienced leader placed at the helm of a collapsing state:
  2. He rebuilt, stabilized and modernized Russia in a way to prevent future collapses
  3. He had to restore the “vertical” of power: “managed democracy” (i.e. restored order)
  4. He needed a consensual history patching up Czarist, Soviet and post-Soviet eras without imposing one, single, version of history
  5. He needed Western support to modernize the Russian economy
  6. He wanted Russia to be a great power, but not a super-power
  7. He never favored iron-curtain isolationism; he is an internationalist (more European than 90% of Russians, at least in the beginning).

The key thesis is this: Putin began as a pro-Western, European leader and with time he realigned himself with a much more traditional, Russian worldview. He is more in line with Russian voters today.

Professor Cohen concluded by addressing two topics which, I presume, his audience cared deeply about: he said that, contrary to Western propaganda, the so-called ‘anti-gay’ laws in Russia are no different from the laws of 13 US states. Secondly, that “by any reckoning, be it flourishing inside Russia or relations with Israel, by general consent of all, nobody denies this, Jews under Putin in Russia are better off than they had ever been in Russian history. Ever. They have more freedom, less official anti-Semitism, more protection, more official admiration for Israel, more interaction, more freedom to go back and forth”.

This is all very interesting important stuff, especially when delivered to a Left-Liberal-Progressive US audience (with, probably, a high percentage of Jews). Frankly, Professor Cohen’s presentation makes me think about what Galileo might have felt when he made his own “presentations” before the tribunal of Inquisition (Cohen’s articles and books are now also on the modern equivalent of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum). In truth, Professor Cohen is simply true to himself: he opposed the crazies during the old Cold War and now he is opposing the same crazies during the new Cold War.

His entire life Professor Cohen was a man of truth, courage, and integrity – a peacemaker in the sense of the Beatitudes (Matt 5:9). So while I am not surprised by his courage, I am still immensely impressed by it. Some might think that delivering a short presentation on a cruise-ship is hardly a sign of great courage, but I would vehemently disagree.

Yes, nobody would shoot Cohen in the back of the neck like, say, the Soviet ChK-GPU-NKVD would have done, but I submit that these methods of “enforcing” a single official consensus were far less effective than their modern equivalents: the conformity imposition techniques (see: Asch Conformity Experiment) so prevalent in the modern Western society.

Just look at the results: there was far more reading and thinking (of any kind) going on in the Soviet society than there is today in the modern AngloZionist Empire (anybody who remembers the bad old USSR will confirm that to you). As one joke puts it: in a dictatorship, you are told to “shut up”, while in a democracy you are encouraged to “keep talking”. QED.

Turning to Professor Cohen’s talking points, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 are basic facts. Nothing to be debated here – Cohen is plainly setting the factual record straight. Number 5 is much more interesting and controversial. For one thing, we are talking views/intentions, which are hard to judge. Was Putin ever pro-Western? Who knows? Maybe his closest friends know? My own belief is that this question must be looked at in combination of issue #8: Putin’s service in the KGB.

There is still a huge amount of misinformation about the old Soviet KGB in the West. To the average American a “KGB agent” is a guy called Vladimir, with steel gray-blue eyes, who beats up dissidents, steals Western technological secrets, and spies on the wives of politicians (and even beds them).

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