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Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia Paperback – October 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Updated edition (October 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393322262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393322262
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 sinAtouting the "Washington Consensus" in spite of the growing catastrophe surrounding them. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cohen (Russian studies and history, New York Univ.) here presents an opinion not held by most U.S. officials and Russian "experts": that the so-called democratization of post-Soviet Russia has been a failure. The author lays out his theories in three parts: he describes how these experts crusaded for a Russia they wanted and, in doing so, managed to overlook what was really taking place in the country. Next, he includes a series of articles he has written since 1992, which further describes the actual political and economic upheaval that has been taking place there. Finally, he presents solutions to remedy Russia's woes and help bring it into the 21st century. Although Cohen is an accomplished author (Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution; Sovieticus: American Perceptions and Soviet Realities), his style tends to be gloating and melodramatic. However, this is a good collection that offers varying opinions of modern Russian history. For academic libraries.AJill Jaracz, Chicago
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As an American businessman who has spent the last five years in Russia, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My own experience leads me to fundamentally agree with its basic premise. American policy by its unconditional support of Yelstin's regime has essentially aided and abetted the legalized theft of Russia's most valuable resources, impoverished the country and led to an increasingly virulent anti American sentiment. Whether or not one agrees with the authors assertion that the nature of our economic advice (pure capitalism with minimal government involvement; essentially a copy of ourselves) was wrong for Russia, I can attest from ground level to his point as to the arrogance with which it was often delivered and the resentment it has caused. This combined with the ultimate failure of Yeltsin's economic policy, NATO encroachment and the Kosovo bombing has caused the Russian people to begin to turn away from America. At the same time America seems to be turning away from them. The consequences of this cannot be good and I hope that whoever is making policy today reads and considers the message of this book. As the author points out several times, Russia was a great country and undoubtedly will be great again. When that time comes, their view of how we treated them in their time of difficulty will matter. A lot.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "dvd0001" on July 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have thought since the late 1980s that Dr. Cohen's analyses of Russia were closer to being true than those of other Western analysts. This book reinforces that impression for me. Although I found it written in an awkward style because of its general tone, Dr. Cohen's book is thoroughly documented in the footnotes section. I discovered quickly that the reason he couldn't put a specific person's name to a comment in the main text is because so many journalists/analysts had made the same comment.
At first I thought that the "Failed Crusade" meant the one put forward by Yeltsin and his cronies to reform Russia. I was wrong, it is the US's crusade to reform Russia into a US clone. While in theory that may sound like a good idea, in practice it has had disastrous consequences, some of which will last for decades and have serious implications for US-Russian foreign policy. More of us should be aware of the existing bias and arrogant attitude some Western policy-wonks, media reporters, and news analysts have regarding the collapse of the Soviet Union and the aftermath. Dr. Cohen has laid it out for us and it is our responsibility to see past the spin to what is really happening in Russia today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "fredfrederickson" on December 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that the basic point of Mr. Cohen's book becomes much belabored (no Nation pun intended) once the first 60 pages are up. In fact, his criticism of the Clinton administration's "free market" mantra turns into a droning mantra itself, and one that is almost as boring. Yet at the same time it is hard to ignore the fundamental truth and importance of Cohen's message, even if the essential unpopularity of his view somehow necessitates its ritualistic repetition. Russia is indeed in a bad way, and U.S. foreign policy is if not entirely to blame then at least significantly complicit. The left and right can argue ad infinitum over the respective merits or vices of capitalism and socialism, but it would certainly behoove both sides of the political spectrum to pause and consider whether specifically American ideology should indeed become the political equivalent of a master race. This book will definitely satisfy those who have been wanting something more than the incessant apologias of those involved in Russia's grab-it-ization (prikhvatizatsia). Read it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on August 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Stephen Cohen noted that the Soviet Union's self-destruction created `a Russian demographic catastrophe unprecedented in peacetime', `the unprecedented demodernisation of a twentieth century country', `the worst peacetime industrial depression of the 20th century', and `the worst economic and social devastation ever suffered by a modern country in peacetime'.

Between 1991 and 1998, GDP fell by 50 per cent, capital investment by 80 per cent, and livestock herds by 75 per cent. 75 per cent of the population were living at or below subsistence level.

The privatisations of the 1990s sold off a trillion dollars' worth of state assets for just $5 billion. Capital flight between 1992 and 2001 is variously estimated at $150 billion to $350 billion. All the time, the Clinton government backed the authors of this Catastroika, Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

Cohen argues that Russia needs a New Deal. It needs to direct investment into industrial and agricultural enterprises, to borrow to invest and to pay (and increase) workers' unpaid wages and pensions, to restore subsidies for education, science and welfare, to impose tariffs on imported goods to protect domestic enterprises, to tighten controls to stop bank malpractices and capital flight, to regulate key prices (especially food prices), and to renationalise at least some privatised enterprises, particularly in oil, gas, timber and strategic metals. (Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz agreed that some renationalisation is necessary.)

Russia should default; its debts should be forgiven, or exchanged for equity - in effect, investment - in Russian enterprises. Restructuring the debt, the usual IMF `remedy', only adds interest due, perpetuating the debt bondage.
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