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Sunday, July 31

Is CNN's Michael Smerconish worried he'll be called a neo-McCarthyite?

Michael Smerconish has given Russia expert Dr Stephen F. Cohen a short hearing about the New Cold War. Not only that, news of the interview, aired on Saturday, made it onto Google News late last night.

Well well. Did Mr Smerconish and CNN brass get around to reading The Saker's letter? But it's more likely they're worried they'll be called McCarthyites because Steve's remarks about the New Cold War seemed to be news to Smerconish, who in defense of CNN explicitly stated that he, for one, was giving the remarks a hearing.

Real Clear Politics has the video of the interview (as does the CNN site) and a partial transcript. I emphasize partial even though RCP calls it the full transcript. If CNN posts the transcript in their transcripts section I'll update this post with the link. For now there is the video and RCP's version of the transcript but f
irst, a clarification:

At one point Steve says, "James Clapper. I don't know who hacked." He was referring to DNI Clapper's remarks on Friday that Washington still didn't know who was responsible for the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails and that the "reactionary mode" of automatically blaming Russia should be halted.

I won't resist adding: Mr Clapper most assuredly being one of the people in Washington who has read The Saker's letter. (1)

Russia Expert Stephen Cohen: Trump Wants To Stop The New Cold War, But The American Media Just Doesn't Understand
Posted by Tim Hains
July 30, 2016
Real Clear Politics

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at NYU and Princeton, spoke with CNN's 'Smerconish' Saturday morning about Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and the 'New Cold War.'

Cohen says the media at large is doing a huge disservice to the American people by ignoring the substance of Trump's arguments about NATO and Russia, and buying the Clinton campaign's simplistic smear that Trump is a Russian "Manchurian candidate."

"That reckless branding of Trump as a Russian agent, most of it is coming from the Clinton campaign," Cohen said. "And they really need to stop."

"We're approaching a Cuban Missile Crisis level nuclear confrontation with Russia," he explained. "And there is absolutely no discussion, no debate, about this in the American media."

"Then along comes, unexpectedly, Donald Trump," he continued, "Who says he wants to end the New Cold War, and cooperate with Russia in various places... and -- astonishingly -- the media is full of what only can be called neo-McCarthyite charges that he is a Russian agent, that he is a Manchurian candidate, and that he is Putin's client."

"This is a moment when there should be, in a presidential year, a debate," he said. "And that is not what we are given in the media today."

"Let's go back to what you said Trump said about NATO," Cohen also said. "Trump said early on, he wanted to know, 60 years after its foundation, what was NATO's mission today. 100 policy wonks in Washington since the end of the Soviet Union, 25 years ago, have asked the same question. Is NATO an organization in search of a mission?"

"That's a legitimate question -- but we don't debate it. We don't ask it. We just say, oh, Trump wants to abandon NATO."

Full transcript:

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN: When looking to blame someone for the cyberattack [against Hillary Clinton an the DNC], Russia was more than convenient. Is this a new cold war or political pot-stirring? Does this accusation have any basis in fact, and if not, could it cause real harm? Here to discuss is Stephen F. Cohen, American scholar of Russian studies at both Princeton and New York Universities. Professor Cohen, does Vladimir Putin indeed have a dog in our U.S. [election]?
STEPHEN F. COHEN: Vladimir Putin wants to end the 'New Cold War -- and so do I.  Let me say, I have no ties to the Trump campaign or the Clinton campaign. But if I were to write your headline for you today, I tried on the way down here, I couldn't fit it on the front page, but it would go like this:

"We're in a new and more dangerous Cold War with Russia."

We're approaching a Cuban Missile Crisis nuclear confrontation with Russia, both along Russia's borders and possibly over Syria. There is absolutely no discussion, no debate, about this in the American media -- including, forgive me, on CNN.

Then along comes (unexpectedly) Donald Trump, who says something that suggests he wants to end the new Cold War, cooperate with Russia in various places. What we used to call detente, and now --astonishingly-- the media is full of what only can be called neo-McCarthyite charges that he is a Russian agent, that he is a Manchurian candidate, and that he is Putin's client.

So the real danger is what's being done to our own poltical process.

This is a moment when there should be, in a presidential year, a debate.

Because Mrs. Clinton's position on Russia seems to be very different [than Mr. Trump's]; has been a long time.

Trump speaks eliptically. You've got to piece together what he says. But he seems to want a new American policy toward Russia. And considering the danger I think we, as American citizens, deserve that debate, and not what we are given in the media today, including on the front page of the "New York Times."

I end by saying that this reckless branding of Trump as a Russian agent -- most of it is coming from the Clinton campaign and they really need to stop.

SMERICONISH: Okay. I don't know where to begin in unpacking all that you just offered to us. But I guess I'll start as follows. As one who can't match your credentials, here's what I see from the outside looking in. I see Donald Trump having said to the "New York Times," just within the last ten days, that he's not so sure he would stand with NATO allies, and I'm paraphrasing, he would want to know whether they would be pulling their own weight. The inpart of his comments seems to suggest he could provide Putin with unfettered, undeterred access to the Baltic states -- whose independence he resents. So it all seems to fit, therefore, that Putin would have a dog in this fight, would want to see Donald Trump win this election so that he, Putin, could do as he pleases, in that part of the world. CNN is covering that. I have to defend the network in that regard. But why does that not all fit, and why does it not all fit in the headline in today's "New York Times," which says Russian spies said to have hacked Clinton's bid.

COHEN: "Said to have." Said to have. That's not news, that's an allegation. James Clapper. I don't know who hacked. Everybody hacks everybody. I mean, we hacked into Chancellor Merkel's cell phone. We learned that from Snowden. The Israelis hack, the America. Everybody hacks. The point is, and I know you said it, not to defend it, but as a provocation, that let's take the position you just set out. That Putin wants to end the independence in Baltic states. There is no evidence for that. None whatsoever.

The point is, is that on the networks -- and I'm not blaming CNN, and there's none on any network. There is none in the "New York Times."

I am old enough to remember that during the last Cold War, all these issues were debated in that you had a proponent to each point of view. But you have now got accusations, both against Putin, both against Trump, which needed to be debated.

The most -- let's go back to what you said -- Trump said about NATO. Trump said early on, he wanted to know, 60 years after its foundation, what was NATO's mission today. 100 policy wonks in Washington since the end of the Soviet Union, 25 years ago, have asked the same question.
Is NATO an organization in search of a mission? For example, it's a mission for the last 20 years was to expand ever closer to Russia. So people have now asked why isn't it fighting international terrorism? That's a legitimate question --but we don't debate it. We don't ask it.

We just say, oh, Trump wants to abandon NATO.

I don't defend Trump. Trump raises questions. And instead of giving answer to the substance of the question, we denounce him as some kind of Kremlin agent. That's bad for our politics, but still worse, given the danger we're not addressing it.

[END PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT]

(1) The letter, according to what Dmitri Orlov, one of the letter's signers, told Max Keiser recently, has by now been seen by about a half million people, if I recall correctly. Well, many more people would know about it because John Batchelor read parts of the letter on his radio show, which reaches millions here in the USA and around the world, shortly after it was published on June 1. 

Even so, that's not enough people who need to become acquainted with the idea that the U.S. policy of trying to push Russia into an existential quandary would be quite literally suicidal if successful.

As to whether Hillary Clinton has also read the letter, let me put it this way. Mrs Clinton doesn't know what pushing means because she doesn't recognize lines. This explains how she's able to make up her own reality as she goes along. 

For example, years ago she got it into her head to depose Bashar al-Assad as a present to Israel. The problem being that the last thing Jerusalem wanted was Assad deposed. 

A cynic would say that Clinton was simply lying, that actually she intended to depose Assad as a present Al Saud but wanted to blame it on Israel. But that's it -- if there are no lines, there is no lying.

The problem being that people who create their own reality assume everyone else does the same. Which is to say that even if she read The Saker's letter she'd assume the Russian government wouldn't really nuke anybody.  

********

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