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Doug's Cold War Victory Lap


The 1980s ended with a 'W' in the win column for us Americans. 

We - the good guys - had won the cold war.  Despots were on the run, and the pinheads who weren't, like Saddam Hussein, were sorted out in short order. 

We were discovering that yeah, folks living under repressive governments actually do get tired of it.  All that democracy, freedom and capitalism stuff we'd been advocating for a couple of centuries did matter after all. And Americans were feeling appreciated after all that. 

In 1992, shortly before my 30th birthday I was working at the Institute of International Education (IIE) in Washington, DC in their Professional Exchange Programs division.  Restless and terminally infected with wanderlust from past travels to Africa Europe and Central America I reckoned it was time to cut loose from the 9 to 5 and see a wee bit of the world.  I saved  pennies, worked overtime whenever possible, cashed in my retirement savings, packed my backpack and took off headed East. I returned a year and a half later.

The original plan was to do as much of of the trip using surface transportation as possible - boats, busses and especially hitchhiking. The real fun of traveling is the art of getting from point A to point B. Airlines are just plain cheating, though sometimes unavoidable. 

It was also an opportunity to spread the gospel of Hoosiers, to ensure that all far and wide understood the universal centrality of Indiana politically, spiritually, and most importantly, in basketball. Much of the trip would revolve around sports events - few things will teach you about local culture as much as a soccer game in Bangladesh, a football game in Pittsburgh, a polo match in Kasmir, a cricket match in Sri Lanka, an ice hockey game in Slovakia, or of course a basketball game in Indiana.

I would also be looking up some of the professionals from all over the world who I had met through my IIE job facilitating short term U.S. visits for folks on the International Visitor Program of USIA.

It was the end of the Cold War, we won big. It was time to strike out into America's New World Playground, find some commies, and rub it in!


Cold War Victory Lap Photos


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