Hope on the Horizon
By Kennedy Applebaum
November 2, 2015
On Wednesday November 4, a group of expert panelists will discuss the current crisis in America’s relationship with Russia at an informal hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The announcement posted on NewColdWar.org presents the topic as “The Crisis in U.S.-Russia relations”, suggesting the roles of the two superpowers might be mutual. In fact, the crisis has been entirely manufactured by the United States government.
There would be no US-Russia conflict had Washington not, in the first place, made reckless foreign policy blunders such as inciting a coup in Kiev, falsely accusing Russia of alleged aggression in Donbass, supporting the buildup of NATO forces in Europe, destabilizing the Middle East, and aiding and abetting Islamic terrorists.
And there would be no conflict with Russia today if Washington were simply willing to cooperate with Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin would welcome such an alliance, as he has often stated.
America as a nation has nothing to lose by working productively with Russia, just as America had nothing to gain by the above mentioned foreign policy blunders. The only parties who gained from those blunders were Muslim terrorists and the banking elite. What does that tell us about who is running the country?
Are the prospects for intelligent discussion at the Capitol Hill event good? Yes. In fact, if you look at the backgrounds of both the political and scholarly sponsors and participants, the prospects are excellent. The forum will be hosted by US Representatives John Conyers Jr., Ted Yoho, Charles Rangel, Steve Cohen, Jim Himes, Rick Nolan, Alan Grayson, and Barbara Lee. The expert panelists are Stephen F. Cohen, Jack Matlock, Ellen Mickiewicz, and John E. Pepper Jr.
The Expert Panelists:
Stephen F. Cohen [no relation to Rep. Steve Cohen], Princeton professor and scholar of Russian history, has been featured in one of my commentaries here at Quemado Institute entitled: Post-Minsk Chapter III Peace Plan: Sovereign Independence for Donetsk and Lugansk — Inspired by the Writings of Stephen F. Cohen. In the commentary I quote James F. Kelly, who said of Cohen in April 2015, “The Nation’s Stephen Cohen joined The Thom Hartmann Program to discuss the politics underpinning the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Cohen expressed concern over the narrative in the West that Putin sought to destabilize Ukraine as part of a wider campaign to take back former Soviet territories in Eastern Europe. ‘It doesn’t correspond to the facts and above all it has no logic. This is the last thing Putin wanted,’ said Cohen. Cohen also maintained that the United States is closer to the possibility of war with Russia than it has been since the Cuban missile crisis. ‘American national security still runs through Moscow. We will never have real sensible national security without the Kremlin as partner,’ Cohen said.”
See also the NYU Jordan Center article entitled Why We Must Return to the US-Russian Parity Principle, by Stephen F. Cohen.
Jack Matlock, former US Ambassador to Russia, is described by Underground.net in the following excerpt: “Democracy Now just interviewed the Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and in this interview he makes a very valid point that the United States needs to stop with the threats to Russia because the US and Europe were the ones who brought on this whole mess in the first place by attempting to place military bases right outside of Russia.” Matlock himself said in that interview, “[I]n the Orange Revolution in Kiev, foreigners, including Americans, were very active in organizing people and inspiring them. Now, you know, I have to ask Americans: How would Occupy Wall Street have looked if you had foreigners out there leading them?”
John E. Pepper, a Yale graduate, has been CEO of Proctor & Gamble and former chairman of Disney. He is the author of the book entitled “What Really Matters”. In a June 2015 article at Russia:Other Points of View, Pepper wrote, “We hear veiled and sometimes bald assertions that Russia intends to enter countries previously part of the Soviet empire–the Baltics, Poland and all of Ukraine. Putin described such a notion as ‘insane.’ He is right. Can you imagine the sheer idiocy of Russia undertaking to move into those countries? Why would they do this? There is no driving ideology as there might have been in the case of Soviet Communism. Surely, Russia has no need for more land.”
Ellen Mickiewicz PhD, according to cartercenter.org, “is the James R. Shepley professor of public policy studies, professor of political science, and director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. A specialist on media and politics, especially in the former Soviet Union and Eastern/Central Europe, she is also a fellow of The Carter Center…. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and received her doctorate at Yale University. She held a Guggenheim Fellowship and has served on the advisory boards of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and currently, the International Journal of Press and Politics (Harvard University) and Political Communication. She was dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Emory University from 1980-1985 and a member of the political science faculty at Emory from 1985-1993.”
The US Representatives:
John Conyers (D, Michigan) earned a degree in law from Wayne State University, and is one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. According to Wikipedia, “On May 5, 2005, Conyers and 88 other members of Congress wrote an open letter to the White House inquiring about the Downing Street memo, a leaked memorandum that revealed an apparent secret agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom to attack Iraq in 2002.” In another context, “In May, 2005, Conyers released What Went Wrong In Ohio: The Conyers Report On The 2004 Presidential Election, which discusses the voting irregularities in the state of Ohio during the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. The evidence offered consists of statistical abnormalities in the differences between exit poll results and actual votes registered at those locations.” According to some sources, the vote count and the exit polls differed by 5%, greater than the discrepancy permitted by international standards.
Wikipedia gives another example of a Conyers challenge to prevailing US policy: “On August 4, 2006, Conyers released his report, The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retributions and Cover-ups in the Iraq War, an edited collection of information intended to serve as evidence that the Bush Administration altered intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.” John Conyers said about the Wikileaks controversy: “As an initial matter, there is no doubt that WikiLeaks is very unpopular right now. Many feel that the WikiLeaks publication was offensive. But being unpopular is not a crime, and publishing offensive information is not either. And the repeated calls from politicians, journalists, and other so-called experts crying out for criminal prosecutions or other extreme measures make me very uncomfortable.”
Ted Yoho (R,FL) earned a BA in Agriculture at the University of Florida. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus, and challenged the raising of the debt ceiling. Regarding the Ukraine conflict, Wikipedia says, “Yoho and his Democratic colleague John Conyers offered bipartisan amendments to block the U.S. military training of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion of the Ukrainian National Guard. Some members of the battalion are openly white supremacists.”
Charles Rangel (D,NY) graduated from New York University in 1957 and St. John’s University School of Law in 1960. Rangel was an adamant opponent of the George W. Bush administration and of the Iraq War. He also advocated reinstating the draft, arguing that, “There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way.”
Steve Cohen (D,Tennessee) [no relation to Stephen F. Cohen] has a degree in law from Memphis State University. Cohen, himself Jewish, boycotted the speech of the Prime Minister of Israel to Congress in March 2015, writing: “While Americans and members of Congress may disagree on anything, even foreign policy, providing a forum of such immense prestige and power to the leader of another country who is opposing our nation’s foreign policy is beyond the pale. It endangers the negotiations, insults the good faith of the other nations involved in the negotiations and emboldens Iran who may well view this schism in our government as an opportunity for advantage.”
Jim Himes (D, Connecticut) received a BA from Harvard and pursued a degree in Latin American studies as a Rhodes scholar at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating with a Master of Philosophy. In 1995, Himes began working at Goldman Sachs as a banker in Latin America and New York. In 2003, Himes started working for the non-profit Enterprise Foundation.
Rick Nolan (D,Minnesota) earned a BA from the University of Minnesota. In a statement, Nolan said, “I voted against the [2014 Veterans Affairs appropriations] bill in protest, because it under-funds veterans health and benefit programs, while shoveling billions of new dollars into unnecessary new military construction in places all around the world where American presence and American resources do not belong.” According to Wikipedia, “In 2014, Nolan urged President Obama to resist further military intervention in both Syria and Iraq.”
Alan Grayson (D,Florida) Grayson graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude degree in economics in 1978. In 1983, he earned a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Grayson supported Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed legislation, and was a co-sponsor of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009, which would provide additional provisions to audit the Federal Reserve. According to Wikipedia, “Grayson has been an outspoken critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May 2010, he introduced the War Is Making You Poor Act. The bill would require the president to fund the wars from the Department of Defense’s base budget…. Grayson has been an outspoken opponent of plans for the United States to intervene in the Syrian civil war. He has rejected what he calls ‘warmongering,’ saying: ‘It’s simply not our responsibility. We’re not the world’s policeman.’ Instead, he called for a focus on humanitarian efforts and solving domestic problems. He launched DontAttackSyria.com, where he began gathering signatures for his petition calling on Congress to vote against authorizing military action against Syria.”
Barbara Lee (D,California) graduated from Mills College and received an MSW from the University of California, Berkeley. Wikipedia notes that, “Lee gained national attention in 2001 as the only member of congress to vote ‘No’ on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), stating that she voted no not because she opposed military action but because she believed the AUMF, as written, granted overly-broad powers to wage war to the president at a time when the facts regarding the situation were not yet clear. She warned her colleagues to be ‘careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.’ Lee explained, ‘It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events—anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit.'” She has opposed war and supported free speech in many instances in Congress.
The crisis in U.S.-Russia relations, from Ukraine to Syria:
Is Congress overlooking its causes and potential solutions?
November 1, 2015
Informal hearing on Capital Hill, Washington DC. Hosted by Rep. John Conyers Jr., Rep. Ted Yoho, Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Jim Himes, Rep. Rick Nolan, Rep. Alan Grayson, and Rep. Barbara Lee. Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 2pm
Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2237, Washington DC
Free & open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP on Eventbrite
Jack F. Matlock, Jr., Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991 under President Ronald Reagan and President Bush
John Pepper, former Chairman and CEO of The Procter & Gamble Company and former Chairman of Disney and of the Yale Corporation
Ellen Mickiewicz, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University
Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies, History, and Politics at New York University and Princeton University
The Ukrainian crisis represents a low in U.S.-Russian relations not seen since the fall of the Soviet Union—and the recent Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War is only making things worse. American and Russian jets flying bombing missions in close proximity to one another raises the possibility of a military accident between two nuclear-armed powers. As the New York Times warns, the complicated and shifting landscape of alliances leaves us “edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia.”
The majority of Americans never lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 or the darkest decades of the Cold War—they have led lives without the looming specter of nuclear war. But the areas of conflict between our nations are growing—the conflict in Ukraine, the expansion of NATO, Russia’s involvement in Syria, and other lesser issues are driving a new wedge between the U.S. and Russia.
While most would agree that conflict between the United States and Russia benefits no one, the likelihood of such conflict, as well as the serious consequences it could bring, is not being adequately discussed on Capitol Hill. In the interest of fostering more robust debate on U.S.-Russia relations, Rep. Conyers will convene an informal hearing featuring four eminent American experts on the subject. All four are members of the Board of the recently re-founded American Committee for East-West Accord, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose purpose is to promote public discussion and debate about the state of U.S. and Russian relations.
Quemado Institute Comments
We hope the informal hearing is well-publicized and will receive the attention due. It is exciting to imagine the positive synergy of the participants, who despite the grim reality they perceive, maintain their optimistic outlooks.
A follow-up article will appear on Quemado Institute after the event.