“Of course you have freedom of speech! You just don’t get to lie.”

Democracy depends on having a strong sense of the value of diverse opinions. If one imagines (as the Soviets did) that one already has the final truth, and that everyone who disagrees is mad, immoral, or stupid, then why allow opposing opinions to be expressed or permit another party to exist at all? The Soviets insisted they had complete freedom of speech, they just did not allow people to lie. It is a short step, John Stuart Mill argues, from the view that one’s opponents are necessarily guided by evil intentions to the rule of what we have come to call a one-party state or what Putin today calls “managed democracy.” If universities embody the future, then we are about to take that step.

Source: Article Why College Kids Are Avoiding The Study Of Literature

The Failure of Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan

Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan were easily manipulated by the locals and proved to be largely ineffective in their intended counter-insurgency role.

Azarbaijani-Moghaddam found that the FETs were easily manipulated by Afghans with experience of three decades of relief and development interventions prior to the arrival of all these well-intentioned young military personnel in their area. There was, in fact, very little understanding within the military regarding the role of women, potential and actual, both within the insurgency in Afghanistan and in support of it. – See more at: http://spp.ceu.edu/article/2014-03-19/failure-female-engagement-afghnistan#sthash.1jqxoP9d.dpuf

Source: The Failure of Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan | School of Public Policy


The first time I entered an American food market at the age of seventeen, I froze.

Older Soviets who visited American stores for the first time, got hit harder — all the lies they were taught from childhood through the decades of their lives — until that last moment, they expected them to be at least partially true.

Sure, they heard stories from overseas, but come on, those were just the Potemkin villages, mirages created to make the Soviets jealous. How can one imagine the unimaginable?

"They told us in Odessa, that in San Francisco it’s hard to find milk."

This is the typical Soviet mentality, and they were used to it, and they bought into it, and then they entered that American supermarket and saw the rows upon rows of milk of different brands and kinds and fat percentages.

This is where some have been known to cry. It is the realization that their lives were stolen from them by the regime. A realization of what could’ve been, if they had been lucky enough to be born in this place which, from everything they knew, could not possibly exist.

I now live in Northern California, in the heart of the Bay Area, thousands of miles away from my homeland.

And yet the poison of Soviet propaganda seeps through college dorms just as it did in Soviet classrooms.

via Articles: Forward.