The politics and Propaganda of Professor Stephen Cohen
It has been a year now since the Euromaidan protests helped bring down the government over corruption charges. Despite calls for unity, Ukraine quickly dissolved into a low level conflict with high level international stakes. Tragic as it may be, with (though likely under-reported) nearly 5400 deaths, according to the United Nations, that still makes Ukraine’s 45.5 million people far s safer than the United States with more than 17,000 homicides. By scale it certainly isn’t close to the nearly 200 thousand killed in Bosnia, 50,000 killed on all sides during the Kosovo conflict. In fact, it is nominally worse than the 1000 or so killed in the short-lived Russo-Georgian conflict of 2008-09. What Ukraine is, instead is a crime, a fact concealed deftly by propagandists such as the pro-Russian apologist Professor Stephen Cohen.
In my book, “A Tragic Fate: Politics, Oil, the crash of Malaysia Flight 17 and the Looming Threats to Civil Aviation,” (2015) I detail the superpower race for control of strategic oil and gas reserves, driven by short-sighted economic imperatives. In the United States and Russia, both government officials and their respective media concealed or misrepresented from the beginning the true nature of the Ukrainian crime. While the Right in this country is blinded jingoistic rhetoric and partisan disdain for Barack Obama, the Left has been fooled into assumptions of a Nazi-led government in Kiev, conspiracy tales around the downing of MH-17 in July, as well as historic and ethnic paradigms driving the conflict. Chief among those propagandists duping the Left is Princeton Professor Stephen Cohen.
Cohen is a contributor to the nation and virtually the only guest regarding Ukraine and Russia on the Thom Hartmann Show and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now. This morning Chen brushed past the issue of US and Russian complicity in the Ukraine crisis over their mutual competition for oil and gas reserves, coincidentally located precisely where the fighting is occurring, and instead laid out the historical and ethnic argument for Russia’s intervention and interest in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. “A Tragic Fate,” shows that the historic and ethnic argument is in fact an excuse, a distraction to hide the real crime. Certainly, as an elite academic, Cohen, a frequent guest on RT (Russia Today), Moscow’s version of FOX, with ties to Russian President Putin, has at the very least access to the same sources sighted in “A Tragic Fate.”
The characterization of conflicts in Ethnic and historical false narratives contributed to the Nazi excuse for invading neighbors under the ruse of protecting ethnic Germans, or in reclaiming territory. It is a fundamental propaganda tool in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and characterizes ever genocide in history. In Bosnia and Kosovo propagandists on all sides frequently explained or excused war crimes in terms of historical and ethnic narratives. An often and all too lazy foreign press, particularly in the West, are all too happy to accept those narratives because, as I was told by a well-known local network journalist at the height of the Bosnian conflict, it fits with a simple good guy-bad guy story that is easy to report.
That laziness and ignorance is not as simple and innocent as it may seem. Behind the scenes propagandists connected to or loyal to the parties of a conflict, as well as a myriad of public and private voices with their own interests are vying for the public’s attention. The press, which in between the weekend weather report and what to shop for and where, slips in those carefully crafted headlines, selling you cartoonish good guy-bad guys stories. Ukraine is no different, and it seems that the Prof. Cohen is in the business of selling; it appears that the Leftwing media is buying. As for the Rightwing media, they just believe the world is one big tribal football game.
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WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “Shoot Down: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.