Friday, April 07, 2006

Nothing to do with Russia, but ...

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Photo Gallery (Toothsome)

This will be quick. I read the Snopes Urban Legend website daily (as well as Straight because I don't like stupidity ... or maybe better to say I don't like unsubstantiated pseudo-facts, pseudo-history (eg Da Vinci Code) masquerading as real reality. In part, that is why I started this blog, to present a more full view (or at least, my view) of a culture that I admire in many ways.

So anyway - this story on Snopes caught my eye and I hesitated to post it, but what the hell. It's Friday and I haven't finished writing my posts on how to build your own banya, satirist Mikhail Zadornov, and Rostov Veliky.

One element I will add regarding blogs of US soldiers in Iraq and stories such as this one. I think far and away, the vast majority of US soldiers in Iraq see good that they are accomplishing (or trying to accomplish) for citizens in Iraq. And yes, stories of bombings, improvised explosive devices, poor strategy, mistakes by the US coalition forces, and on and on ... are what predominate the media. I believe that is correct, however. The larger picture IS these terrible happenings and the loss of life and problems which afflict Bush's attempt at nation building in Iraq.

The individual stories are important, but they do not drive US or international policy - they simply humanize our soldiers and the conflict. It is largely a question of vantage point. Our soldiers are so close to the conflict, they see the faces of mothers and children and families - and the walk away with a very different view than is seen from 10,000 miles away. Right or wrong, larger US policy will never be driven by these faces that the soldiers see. I believe that is true for almost any nation, unfortunately.

In the interest of full disclosure regarding my politics and experiences, I should say that I was raised a US Army Brat. My father retired as an E-7 (Sergeant, First Class) after 21 years of service, including 2 tours in Vietnam (he volunteered for the 2nd tour actually - he wasn't required to serve that additional time there). We lived abroad in what was West Germany for approximately 6 years ... most of my teenage years actually. I believe living in the shadow of the Warsaw Pact nations created part of my later fascination with Russian and Slavic culture. These circumstances also obviously influence my points of view regarding my own country, our military, and its relationship to the rest of the world.

I guess this wasn't as quick as I intended. I hope that readers enjoy the Snopes link and story, even if it isn't related to Russian culture. I suspect Russian readers would be rather skeptical of what is displayed and discussed in the article (with the exception of the US soldier having rather good teeth!)


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