Professor Stephen Cohen

A Sane Voice Goes Silent

By Syed Jawaid Iqbal | December 2019

It is so painful to know that Prof. Stephen Cohen, the American political scientist and professor of South Asian Security Studies, is no more. He was one gem of a human being. I first met him in May 1990 when I visited the United States for a 4-week tour across the country in connection with a project related to US Foreign Policy and South Asia.

This extraordinary visit was planned under the International Visitors Program known as IVP and was organized by the US Department of State.

It was based on familiarizing scholars from the South Asian region with US efforts in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security and inviting them to see the Beckman Centre for Advanced Study of Artificial Intelligence. Professor Stephen Cohen was assisting his Government in setting up a three-day program for the visiting delegation at Champaign-Urbana at the University of Illinois.

The professor was very kind to invite me to his place, along with four other delegates, for an informal dinner at which he served roasted Turkey. While the Turkey was delicious, it offered me the added advantage of enjoying ‘kosher’ food!

The visit to Prof. Cohen’s place was an experience that left a lasting impression on me. Firstly, I was struck by the very simple setup of his household. There were no fancy frills and his minimalistic belongings depicted the fact that this was the house of a professor.

The other thing was his obvious love of books. His study was more like a library with shelf upon shelf loaded with books. The amazing part was that whichever title my curiosity led me to pull out from any row, I found that it had been signed by the author of the book and presented to Prof. Cohen.

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A Sane Voice Goes Silent

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