Behind the Façade - the Soviet Union
(Writing in the early 1980s): "How was I going to write about this shrouded land [the Soviet Union]-these cloaked people with souls hidden deep inside them? Where was I to go to discover their real selves? Were there even 'real selves'? Was it all in the propaganda and in the harsh statements that officials avidly fed me? Was I wrong always to grope underneath the psyches presented me? What were the clues-and how would I even recognize them when I found them?..
"Despite everything, I was learning. I was learning how, in closed societies like this, you learn things. You learn, not by direct questions or comments, but by the inflections, by comparing innuendoes with the types of innuendoes the people used the last time. You learn what is true by pauses and coughs. You learn what is true through what people do not, will not, and above all, psychologically, cannot do or tell you...
"Here is a society where virtually everyone is living on a level of dishonesty, where interpretations are so different from ours as to be from a totally different world...
"You find yourself sifting every grain of talk and truth, trying to find out what is real. In the end, you wonder if you will ever know reality again, anywhere. [The Soviet Union] is a torment for the honest journalist, and the torment lasts long after one has closed the door on that isolated and strange land."
Georgie Anne Geyer, foreign correspondent and syndicated columnist, from her book "Buying the Night Flight" (Delacorte Press, 1985), reflecting her frustration of reporting about the Soviet Union. Ms. Geyer has interviewed many world leaders including Fidel Castro, King Hussein, Prince Sihanouk, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, Ayatollah Khomeini, Muammar Qaddafi. She often appears on national television forums related to U.S. international policy.
From Azerbaijan International (7.1) Spring 1999
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All Rights Reserved.