Recent comments by Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have not been consistent with official U.S. policy of “resetting” the relationship with Russia, Mr. Cohen added.
Nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, “the Russians are still pretty angry at the U.S.,” Mr. Cohen said.
“There is deep-seated resentment” and they “think we took advantage of the collapse of their empire … and they feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of Europe,” he said, referring to the late comedian who complained that he could get “no respect.”
Mr. Biden told the Wall Street Journal last week that the Russians “have a withering economy” and a “banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years.”
Just before going to Moscow earlier this month, Mr. Obama said that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin still has one foot in the Cold War.
“Whenever you are dealing with other countries, whatever your private feelings may be, you need to treat those countries with respect,” Mr. Cohen said. “Whatever negative views you have, you hold them for yourself.”
Just as Russia is pivotal to dealing with Iran, Mr. Cohen said, China is critical to containing and reversing North Korea’s nuclear program.
Quoting the late American playwright William Inge, Mr. Cohen said, “You can build a throne of swords but you can’t sit on it unless you give them a cushion. You have to take the cushion [of foreign aid] away” from North Korea.