World Policy reviews Stephen Cohen's Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives

Stephen F. CohenPerhaps Barack Obama’s decision to scrap the proposed antiballistic shield in Central and Eastern Europe will improve U.S.-Russian relations but as Stephen F. Cohen has argued, much still needs to be done to prevent another Cold War.

In his most recent book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, Cohen examines U.S. policy failures in the post-Cold War era as well as key episodes in twentieth-century Russian history. In a recent review on the World Policy blog, David A. Andelman writes, “For, as this brilliant Princeton and New York University professor so meticulously chronicles, we have indeed gone off the rails in our dealing with the realities of today’s Russia, taking us once again to the brink.” A sense of U.S. triumphalism after the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO expansion, Bill Clinton’s embrace of “shock therapy” for the Russian economy and a failure to recognize Russia’s continuing strength have all led to a worsening of U.S.-Russian relations and set the stage for another Cold War.

David A. Andelman, likens Cohen to George Kennan in his profound understanding of Russia and its leaders and argues that Cohen’s views should be heeded more carefully by U.S. policymakers. He concludes the review, writing:

Cohen offers us a lesson, and a solution that is at once simple and of priceless value. The whole blame-Russia-first concept that is so prevalent in Washington must be replaced, along with the idea that there is any longer even a single superpower. Partnership must replace confrontation at all cost. In the end, Cohen suggests a single, fundamental prescriptive—hew to the Hippocratic injunction, “do no harm,” and re-set the entire U.S.-Russian relationship, before it is too late.

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