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Keeping a close watch on Russia

May 04, 2008

Re "A chilly peace," Opinion, April 30

From the late 1960s to the 1980s, the vast majority of academic foreign policy "experts" (generally leftist) believed that the U.S. caused the Cold War by dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and was, at best, morally equivalent to the Soviet Union. No magazine parroted this "blame America first" viewpoint more than the Nation.

But then the truth came out, and the minority of academicians who were highly critical of the Soviet Union were proved correct.

So it was with a sickening sense of deja vu that I read Stephen F. Cohen's piece, which studiously downplays all of the autocratic excesses by the odious Russian President Vladimir Putin (without doubt a throwback to the worst of the post-Stalinist Russian rulers in his human rights abuses and assistance to our mortal enemies, like Iran). Instead, Cohen blames (what else?) U.S. foreign policy.

No surprise that a version of his article will appear in an upcoming issue of the Nation.

Peter Rich

Los Angeles

I was very pleased to read Cohen's Op-Ed article. As one who six years ago had a Fulbright to teach American history at Moscow State University, I have had a special interest in Russia.

I have been appalled not only by Putin's increasingly authoritarian rule but also by the many provocative words and actions of the Bush administration in its dealings with this vast country -- to my mind, needlessly provocative.

I am firmly convinced that such behavior has merely strengthened Putin's capacity to govern with a heavy hand.

Glenna Matthews

Laguna Beach

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