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Apr 10, 2015

The West vs. Russia

Be it resolved, the West should engage not isolate Russia…

Pro
Stephen F. Cohen
Vladimir Pozner
Con
Anne Applebaum
Garry Kasparov
Result
Con wins with 10% vote gain
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Be it resolved, the West should engage not isolate Russia…

How should the West deal with Putin’s Russia? For the U.S. and some European powers the answer is obvious: isolate Russia with punishing economic sanctions, remove it from global institutions such as the G8, and arm the nations directly threatened by Putin. In short, return to the Cold War doctrine that froze Soviet aggression in Europe and helped bring about the collapse of communist Russia. Others argue that such a policy is a dead-end. Putin’s Russia has legitimate grievances against Western and NATO powers meddling in its sphere of influence. Instead of further antagonizing Putin and risking a dangerous escalation of the current conflict, the U.S. and Europe should seek common cause with Russia to address shared threats, from the Middle East to Asia to combatting terrorism.

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Vote Results

Pro
Con

Pre-debate

58%

42%

Post-debate

48%

52%

Con wins with 10% vote gain

The Debaters

Stephen F. Cohen

"Equating Putin with Adolf Hitler is another example of how our new cold warriors are recklessly damaging U.S. national security in vital areas where Putin’s cooperation is essential.”

Stephen F. Cohen

"Equating Putin with Adolf Hitler is another example of how our new cold warriors are recklessly damaging U.S. national security in vital areas where Putin’s cooperation is essential.”

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Politics and Russian Studies at Princeton University and Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and History at New York University. He received his BS and MA degrees at Indiana University and his PhD at Columbia University.

Cohen is author of a number of widely acclaimed books on Russia, including Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography; Rethinking the Soviet Experience; Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia; The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin; and most recently, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. His new book, Why the Cold War Again?, will be published later this year.

A contributing editor to The Nation magazine, Cohen's articles have also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post and other American and international publications. For many years he was an on-air consultant to CBS News, and appears frequently on CNN, PBS and other U.S. and international television and radio broadcasts.

Cohen, who has three children, lives in New York City with his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation.

Vladimir Pozner

"For the average Russian, who is a very proud person with a sense of history and a belief that his is a great country, Putin has given him back his sense of pride - you cannot ignore us any more, the way you did when Yeltsin was in power and Russia was on its knees."

Vladimir Pozner

"For the average Russian, who is a very proud person with a sense of history and a belief that his is a great country, Putin has given him back his sense of pride - you cannot ignore us any more, the way you did when Yeltsin was in power and Russia was on its knees."

Vladimir Pozner is a veteran journalist and bestselling author. He is the host of the top-rated weekly current affairs program on Channel One – Russia’s largest television network. Named the “Voice of Moscow” by CNN, Pozner is a regular commentator on Russia, and the history of the Cold War, in Western media. He is the author of a number bestselling books including Parting with Illusions and Eyewitness: A Personal Account of the Unraveling of the Soviet Union.

As a correspondent for Radio Moscow, Pozner became a sought-after commentator on Russian politics and East-West relations. During the 1980’s, Pozner co-hosted a series of experimental international telecasts with Phil Donahue. Called A Citizen's Summit, these televised discussions between Soviet and U.S. viewers helped promote the concept of glasnost to a mass Soviet audience. 

Pozner has won multiple awards, including three Emmys, nine TEFI awards and several international honours. He also was a correspondent for NBC Olympics during the 2014 Sochi Games, and has been a frequent guest on Western media analyzing the conflict in the Ukraine and partition of Crimea.

Anne Applebaum

"Russia is not a flawed Western power. Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics"

Anne Applebaum

"Russia is not a flawed Western power. Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics"

Anne Applebaum is a Pulitzer-prize winning historian, a staff writer for The Atlantic, an international university lecturer.  

Born in Washington, D.C., Applebaum earned her undergraduate degree at Yale University and was a Marshall Scholar at the London School of Economics and St. Anthony’s College, Oxford. Currently, she is a senior fellow of international affairs and Agora fellow in residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where she co-directs a program on 21st century propaganda. 

Earlier, Applebaum was a Washington Post columnist for 15 years, a member of the paper’s editorial board, and worked as the foreign and deputy editor of the Spectator magazine in London. She covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine and the Independent newspaper. 

Applebaum’s book Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine received the Lionel Gelber Prize in 2018 and Gulag: A History won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2004. Both books, along with Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, have been translated into more than 24 languages. Her most recent book, published in 2020, is Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.  

Applebaum is married to Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer, with whom she has two children.

Garry Kasparov

"A dictator grows into a monster when he is not confronted at an early stage… And unlike Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin has nuclear weapons"

Garry Kasparov

"A dictator grows into a monster when he is not confronted at an early stage… And unlike Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin has nuclear weapons"

Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1963, Garry Kasparov became the under-18 chess champion of the USSR at the age of 12 and the world under-21 champion at 16. He came to international fame as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985 at the age of 22. He defended his title five times, including a legendary series of matches against arch-rival Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov broke Bobby Fischer’s rating record in 1990 and his own peak rating record remained unbroken until 2013.

Kasparov retired from competitive chess in 2005 to join the vanguard of the Russian pro-democracy movement. He founded the United Civil Front and organized the Marches of Dissent to protest the policies enacted by the then-government of Vladimir Putin. In 2012, Kasparov was elected to the Coordinating Council of the united opposition movement. In the same year, he was named chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, succeeding Vaclav Havel.

The US-based Kasparov Chess Foundation non-profit promotes the teaching of chess in education systems around the world. Now in over 3500 US schools, KCF recently launched centers in Europe and Africa. Kasparov is a pioneering figure in computer chess, most famously for his two matches against the IBM super-computer Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997. Since 2007, he has researched and collaborated with the high-tech industry on human-machine cooperation and the future of artificial intelligence.

Mr. Kasparov has been a contributing editor to The Wall Street Journal since 1991 and is a frequent commentator on politics and human rights. Kasparov’s book, How Life Imitates Chess, on decision-making is available in over 20 languages. He is the author of two acclaimed series of chess books, My Great Predecessors and Modern Chess.