President Trump set off a roar of outrage Monday when he defended Vladimir Putin and Russia against charges of meddling in the U.S. presidential election, and said the U.S. was to blame for the deteriorating relationship with Russia. Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to condemn the president's deference to Putin, but his eagerness to work with Russia is not without defenders.
Take, for example, two American foreign policy experts, Stephen F. Cohen and John Mearsheimer, who both say they agree with Trump that the U.S. has been unnecessarily hostile to Russia. And whether you think that makes them Putin's patsies or not, they're both afraid anti-Russia sentiment in the U.S. will tank Trump's efforts for cooperation.
“I’ve seen these things from the inside. I've re-thought and re-thought how we got to the edge of war with Russia, where we haven't been since Cuba in 1962. And I have concluded, and I would be happy to debate my opponents… It is 95 percent our own doing,” Cohen said.
Cohen is used to people calling him a Putin apologist for his views, while Mearsheimer created a firestorm in 2014 when he penned a piece arguing that the crisis in Ukraine was largely the fault of the U.S. and its Western European allies.
But Cohen and Mearsheimer both maintain that the media has sidelined their unpopular opinions, leading to what they say is a one-sided conversation about Russia.
“There is an unwillingness to engage in debate on this issue, like I have never seen before," Mearsheimer said.
VICE News sat down with the two professors — who happen to be old friends — to hear their opinions on all things Russia.
This segment originally aired July 16, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.