Alexander Baunov & Thomas de Waal advocate a rationally based ‘New Cold War’: A Political History Play ‘made to measure’, in Five Acts with a Prologue. Old Socialist comments

The evolution of the Think Tank as an instrument of propaganda for the American National Security State, and its NATO allies, could not be better represented than by the Carnegie Foundation, in its various iterations. It has become the home of various operatives of that State, and NATO,  who have served in various capacities, and are now marking time until their next appointment, or have transitioned to full time academic/think tank employment. Or journalists who have become members of the Carnegie coterie of writers/policy experts. This five act melodrama was written by the Russian born Alexander Baunov:

‘… is a Russian international policy expert, journalist, publicist, and former diplomat.Since 2015, he has been a senior associate in Carnegie Moscow Center and editor in chief of’

And British journalist Thomas de Waal:

‘…is a British journalist and writer on the Caucasus. He is best known for his 2003 book Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War.

He has reported for, amongst others, the BBC World Service, the Moscow Times, and The Times.[1] He was a Caucasus editor at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in London until December 2008, and later as a research associate with the peace-building NGO, Conciliation Resources. Currently he is a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, specialising primarily in the South Caucasus region.[2]


Russia’s interference in American and European elections constitutes a serious offense. But by treating Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies as an existential threat, Western leaders are playing directly into the Kremlin’s hands, and validating its false narrative about Russia’s place in the world.

This paragraph is followed by a made to measure history of the American Red scare from the 1920’s to the McCarthy Era, and refers to the mentor-ship of Donald Trump by the utterly notorious Roy Cohn. The connection is made in the readers mind that Trump is culpable by his close relations with Cohn: the thing that bound them together was naked opportunism. What is so blatant in this section is this sentence that demonstrates the utter historical ignorance of these two dramaturges:

As in 1920, the Red Scare of the early 1950s faded almost as quickly as it had begun.

This historically maladroit but self-serving misreading of actual history serves the end of  producing a stirring  melodrama. In sum, the admonition of Baunov/de Waal to the reader is forget what you know, from living through this historical period: call this dramatic license? Call by its real name, self-willed political amnesia, allied to the suspension of disbelief, exercised by the reader as if under the spell of this rickety melodrama? Very complicated, indeed.

Act One: The Paranoid Style in American Kremlinology:

In this act Baunov/de Waal extemporize on the theme of American historian Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 book The Paranoid Style in American Politics. And as such, they quite rightly are dismissive of the notion that Russian ‘trolls’ somehow subverted both the US Election and the Brexit Vote. As they point out,  the New Democrats used this to cover their loss to Trump, but fails to mention the mythical Bernie Bros in the Hillary Clinton victimology, that demonstrated the Populist contagion within the Party.  The leaked Podesta e mails became a product of ‘Russian Meddling’ ,when their origin was clearly from Wikileaks, possibly leaked by Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Our authors point to China, Saudi Arabia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government in Turkey as more fearsome political bad actors.


Act Two : The Western Id:

In this act, the framing of the dramatic exposition of Baunov/de Waal is the utterly discredited Sigmund Freud, the Id, the primal the irrational! Enter stage left Putin The Terrible:  Our two dramaturges now shift into the melodrama of the small screen of the black and white era, with this characterization of Putin, ‘Like the Bolsheviks a century ago’ .

Putin now takes the role of anti-imperialist, but with a decided Conservatism that doesn’t just resonate with the dreaded ‘ Populists’ , European and American, but with American Evangelicals, that is a sizable portion of the American Republican Parties fervent base. That predates the rise of the Populists: the well financed American Tea Party appeared in 2008. The political/religious consonance between the American Evangelicals and Putin’s religiously inspired Conservatism, escapes these European Technocrats political/historical grasp!


Act Three : Getting Russia Right:

In this act Baunov/de Waal shift back to a descriptive rationalism as a strategy that ‘The West’ must follow, in response to the trivial Russian interference in America’s election. The pronouncements of the notorious liars Monsignor Brennan, James Clapper and the strategic leaks from CIA sources, are elided from this melodrama as too inconvenient.      Of course, the ‘Russian revanchism’ represented by Georgia and Ukraine remain of primary concern to these NATO fellow travelers. Who scrupulously ignore the Coup in Ukraine engineered by America, the EU and NATO, with the aid of journalists and Think Tank allies like themselves! But the answer to this revanchism is further and more effective sanctions.


Act Four : The Way Ahead:

In this act Baunov/de Waal almost echoes the chatter once supplied by the Cold War duo of ‘Vital Center’ apologist Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and his  ‘Christian Realist’ ally  Reinhold Niebuhr.  The answer to Putin’s Russian revanchism ,described as ‘posturing’ in all of its varieties, is for ‘The West’  ‘to boost their own resilience – morally and practically. More of the same : More broadly, Western countries must do more than merely assert their moral superiority… The question arises where might the reader find this moral superiority? Should the reader look just a bit further in this essay? for this surprising  bit of moral/political honesty about American imperialism, wedded to its sanctimonious moralizing, that almost rescues this collection of shopworn cliches:

Lest we forget, the US invaded Iraq unilaterally in 2003, has refused to join international rules-based institutions such as the International Criminal Court, and is now the only country not participating in the Paris climate agreement.

But not to forget the Russian crimes in Chechnya , and ‘blithely changed  international borders’ as seen through the lens of NATO, if not sub rosa operatives, then at the least, apologists. But note, does ‘blithely changed international borders’ constitute a crime of the magnitude of Chechnya?

After all, Russia killed tens of thousands of its own citizens in Chechnya, all in the name of preserving its “territorial integrity,” and then blithely changed international borders by force in both Georgia and Ukraine.


Act Five : Tear Down That Wall:

This act takes it frame from Ronald Reagan’s famous/infamous admonition! There is no cliche safe from this team of dramatists!

As for the  ‘reaching out to Russia’s urban middle class’ : Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty are still broadcasting:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States governmentfunded broadcasting organization that spreads news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East where it says that “the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed”.[3] RFE/RL is a 501(c)(3) corporation that receives U.S. government funding and is supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an agency overseeing all U.S. federal government international broadcasting services.[4]


Plain speaking is imperative, Putin is an authoritarian personality who was a career KGB officer/official, and  rose through its ranks in the Cold War. But was given his political opportunity by Neo-Liberal front man, and manipulable drunkard Boris Yeltsin: who succeeded an actual political reformer Gorbachev, when the Soviet Union collapsed. For the particulars on Gorbachev’s reforms and its actors read ‘Voices of Glasnost’ a series of interviews conducted by Stephen F. Cohen and Katrina vanden Heuval. This book will not be of interest to our ‘playwrights’, what they have produced here is a propaganda vehicle confected for the 21 inch black and white screen of 1952.

Old Socialist

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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