From the Archives: Katrina vanden Heuvel and James W. Carden: Stephen Cohen’s legacy lives on in ACURA

It was Steve who was the guiding force behind the Committee’s re-emergence in 2015, this time as the American Committee for East-West Accord. As Steve noted at the time, “The old Committee, formed mainly by corporate CEOs, was well funded, had offices in Washington D.C., and had supporters in many places – in the media, in Congress, in the two political parties, in the State Department, etc. We have none of these advantages now. Our struggle is therefore much more difficult, but therefore also more important.”

It was also Steve who, far earlier than most, saw the danger of the new cold war that was forming in the mid 2000s and which reached its apex in the months and years immediately following the 2014 crisis in Ukraine. Steve observed with dismay that many journalists, scholars and foreign policy practitioners acted as though the risks of a prolonged East-West confrontation were negligible. In his view, this was the height of reckless irresponsibility. He knew, as we know now, that the inherent risks of a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, each armed with roughly 1350 strategic nuclear warheads, and with our militaries nose to nose across east-central Europe, the Black Sea, and Syria, were enormous. The role of the West in fomenting rebellion against a democratically elected government in Kiev greatly exacerbated the risks of confrontation.

Steve’s decision to re-establish the committee at the high point of what may fairly be characterized as a neo-McCarthyite stance toward Russia, was also very much in keeping with his character.

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