The START II Treaty (cooperative threat reduction) targeted a site near our sister city for the building of a decommissioning plant to render weaponry harmless. When a previous site in Russia had attempted to build such a facility, Russian citizens who didn’t understand the plan and were afraid of the project successfully protested and closed down the plant. (It was great to see fledgling democracy at work, but the efforts in the case of stalling a bilateral mutual weapons elimination plan were misguided due to lack of information, education and misunderstandings.)
By the time START II came along, our sister city organization already had a decade of cooperative Russian-American relationship building experience. Mutually cooperative partnerships already existed between our municipal organizations—police and firefighters, mayor and city leaders. We already had healthcare, educational, social and business bridges with frequent personnel exchanges in the oblast (section) where the plant was scheduled to be built. USAID funded our project for $250,000.
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“What will it feel like to be vaporized? Will it hurt? Will I know right away that I am dead? My family will be dead too. Will we all go to heaven together? What about Jody, my dog? Will she come too?” The never-ending cycle of uninvited thoughts and the heart pounding fear was a nightly ritual. I tried to shift my focus to the coolness of summer sheets and pulled the comforter up to my chin. Even in summer I insisted on a blanket or comforter. Maybe in my young mind, the extra cover or extra weight would somehow protect me. An illusion can save you sometimes, even when you’re dealing with insanity.