The Nation’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has been legendarily bad, but this article may be the worst yet. In the process of wondering why traditional critics of American foreign policy have struggled to overcome the queasy feeling of associating with Vladimir Putin, Gilbert Doctorow chastises Noam Chomsky for being insufficiently quick on the trigger (“holding his silence until his distaste for American bullying of Russia and its aggressive hypocrisy outweighed his distaste for what he construed [my emphasis] as Mr. Putin’s authoritarian regime”), suggests that Robert Levgold would be more critical, were it not for fear of his colleagues, and argues, in apparently unironic terms, that Stephen Cohen has taken on the mantle of “Great American Dissident.”
None of that beats this paragraph, though:
If Putin can rise to the challenge and, on the strength of his overwhelming popularity, rein in the oligarchs further, curb corruption more and successfully launch the reindustrialization that import substitution invites, he will finally diversify the economy away from mineral extraction and Russia may genuinely prosper. This in turn will take the country along its way on the path to full-fledged democracy.
Yep. Some might think that joining the WTO, encouraging heavy FDI, increasing gas production, and launching a wide-ranging assault on civil liberties are odd ways to achieve import substitution, move away from mineral extraction, pursue a path to full-fledged democracy. But then, I lack the insight of the editors of the Nation.
Let’s be as clear as possible; Katrina vanden Heuvel is making some egregiously bad decisions by allowing Stephen Cohen to manage the direction of Russia coverage in the Nation. It’s going to cause longterm damage to the magazine, and those who are in anyway close to the decision-making of the editorial board should do their best to limit this damage.