Would they debate the differences between their respective governments? Or would they compare notes about their children and what each other did for a living? Before they parted company, they would probably have touched on ambitions and hobbies and what they wanted for the children and the problems of making ends meet.
And as they went their separate ways, maybe Anya would be saying to Ivan: “Wasn’t she nice. She also teaches music.” And Jim would be telling Sally what Ivan did and didn’t like about his boss. They might even have decided they were all going to get together for dinner some evening soon.
Above all they would’ve proven that people don’t make wars….
RONALD REAGAN JANUARY 16TH, 1984
QUOTED IN DAVID E. HOFFMAN’S THE DEAD HAND : THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE COLD WAR ARMS RACE AND ITS DANGEROUS LEGACY pg. 96.
The Cold War was a grand ideological conflict between capitalism/democracy and communism. The United States won the ideological struggle over the Soviet Union, as democracy and freedom triumphed over Communism. Lately though, I’ve been troubled by the question: While our two governments were jostling over the future direction of the world, what were the average American and the average Soviet citizen EVER truly fighting over? Our governments butted heads over ideology, but at the most basic levels of humanity were the Soviets really that different than us? Or was it just our governments and our own ignorance of each other that kept us apart?
My thought here is that most Soviets wanted the same basic things in their lives that Americans wanted. Things like security and a meaningful living wage and for their children to grow up with the opportunity for a better life than they themselves enjoyed. Some people still view Russians as though they are alien life forms. The reality is that most Russians have many of the same basic hopes, goals, and ambitions as we in the United States do. A people should never be judged by their government because in my experience…our feelings towards a government don’t often compute when one actually sits down and talks a citizen from Russia, for example.