Monday, August 31, 2009

At the Palace of Friendship

When I visited Moscow in the Spring of 1986, with a group of American law students, we retreated to an evening at “The Palace of Friendship,” a place for foreign visitors to mingle with Russian students who get the benefit of sharpening their language skills. They also promulgate the official party line, of course.

A couple of things are vivid in my memory, over twenty years later. First, it was *abundantly* clear to me that Russian students have *dramatically* different standards for personal hygiene than do Westerners. If I ever go back, I will carry a suitcase full of soap and bubble batgh. The other thing I’ll never forget is listening to a young Russian lad inform me that, in America, we have a military-industrial complex. I politely managed to not laugh out loud. I did, however, point out to him that, since January of 1973, every member of the United States Armed Forces is a volunteer. We haven’t had a draft in America since 1971. In Russia, on the other hand, any eighteen-year-old boy who doesn’t have serious Communist Party connections can count on spending two years in Siberia in the Soviet Army.

There was *dead* *silence* for a moment. Then the young fellow managed to say, “We have different institutions in different countries.” Freaking-A skippy!

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