Last night on John Batchelor's radio show, John and Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen discussed the Russophobia that has overtaken America's foreign policy academics, major press, politicians, and think tank propaganda typists. The situation has gotten progressively worse this past year, to the point where it's no longer only Vladimir Putin who's being demonized but also the Russian people as a whole -- as Steve's examples from recent American articles illustrated.
Podcast of their discussion: Part 1 and Part 2.
Toward the end of Part 2 John and Steve offered their best guesses about why the Russophobia outbreak is so severe at this time in the United States. What most worries them is whether the outbreak is a prelude to U.S. provocations that would touch off war between the two nuclear-armed countries. It's a realistic concern, given that Washington tends to settle matters by demonizing an opponent to make a case for military actions.
But would the civilians who run Washington's defense establishment be so nutty as to run the same game against Moscow? One doesn't want to gamble on the answer, but the establishment is stuck somewhere in the 1980s. Russia with Putin at the helm has moved on. So for a country that's much older than the United States, it now seems quite young. It's the United States that seems geriatric.
Russia's age-defying makeover is courtesy of its intellectual class, which Putin, himself an intellectual, has drawn from.
By the turn of this century America's intellectual class had been eclipsed in Washington by a think-tank or 'policy institute' class. Those institutes are nothing more than unregistered lobbying firms for their largest donors. (This is as true for U.S. domestic issues as defense ones.) A focus on promoting the agendas of donors tends to shrivel the intellect.
So while America's defense establishment might not be crazy enough to provoke an armed conflict with Russia, it is mindless enough.
Therefore it will be up to the Kremlin to wend its way around people whose reasoning is now limited to force.