Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Commumist Russia

Stephen F. Cohen, Author
Stephen F. Cohen, Author W. W. Norton & Company $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-04964-0
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 349 pages - 978-0-393-32226-2
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When the Soviet Union collapsed nearly a decade ago, the U.S. adopted a policy of activist support for the successor regime of Boris Yeltsin and rarely questioned that strategy. Today, Russia is burdened with an economy in shambles, an alarming national health crisis and, many fear, nuclear insecurity. Anti-Americanism is on the rise and a career secret policeman heads the Kremlin, yet Washington has still not re-assessed its Russia policy. That worries Cohen, a Russia scholar with a track record for contrarian views. The end of the Cold War, he argues, exacted a harsher penalty on the Russian people than any military loss could have, and the ""aid"" proffered by the U.S., in the form of technocratic blueprints for free markets, is much to blame. In a chilling analogy, Cohen notes that the traditional role of the U.S. as ally to Russia is one in which Washington ""pressured a collapsing Russia to remain in the carnage."" Russia survived the allied blood-lettings of two World Wars, but Cohen sees the U.S.-prescribed ""shock-therapy"" as fatal. The result: societal and economic devastation so severe that it warrants a new Marshall Plan and threatens U.S. national security more than the Cold War ever did. Cohen's criticism is sharp and angry. He targets policy-makers and economic advisers for their ignorance of Russian history; he lambastes scholars for their misguided prognosis of Russia's progress; and he scorns foreign journalists for a more unforgivable sin--touting the ""Washington Consensus"" in spite of the growing catastrophe surrounding them. (Sept.)
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