October 29, 2014


In an essay I wrote earlier this year on the subject of education, I invoked Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words, which introduce the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I argued in this essay that this commitment compels us to provide to the limit of our practical ability, the support for health and education, which will enable every child to pursue his or her “Unalienable Rights.”

I recently found a profoundly meaningful articulation of this thinking in an essay written by Marilynne Robinson, “The Human Spirit and the Good Society.”  She observes that “without knowing the nature of Jefferson’s religious beliefs, or doubts, or disbeliefs we do know he had recourse to the language and assumptions of Judeo/Christianity to articulate the vision of human nature.  Each person is divinely created and given rights as a gift from God.  And since these rights are given to him by God, he can never be deprived of them without defying divine intent.”

Ms. Robinson goes on to make a point which I have become increasingly convinced of and that is “lacking the terms of religion” it is very difficult for us to assert this right of human equality.  “Every civilization, including this one,” Robinson writes, “has always been able to reason its way to ignoring or denying the most minimal claims to justice in any form that deserves the name.  The temptation is always present and powerful because the rationalizations are always ready to hand.  One group is congenitally inferior, another is alien or shiftless, or they are enemies of the people or of the state.  Yet others are carriers of intellectual or spiritual contagion.”

Robinson finally asserts, and I agree:  “Jefferson makes the human person sacred, once by creation and again by endowment, and thereby sets individual rights outside the reach of rationalization.”

To be sure, I will acknowledge that religion is not a cure all. Like every ideology, it poses the risk of fueling and giving dimension to the invidious and I believe inescapable human tendency to elevate ourselves and gain a sense of worth by comparing ourselves so some “other” that we consider inferior and unworthy.   All too often religious beliefs have become highly exclusive and not inclusive. They have morphed to a mind-set if you don’t believe in my religion you are not entitled to basic Rights, even sometimes the Right of Life.  We only need to recall the Crusades and, today, witness the deadly conflict between Shiite and Sunni to be confirmed in this saddest of realities.

However, to acknowledge that religious beliefs can be misused to deny the essential human equality of all people in terms of the Rights Jefferson prescribes does not negate for me the belief that it is the essential teaching of all religions—“to love God and to treat our neighbor as ourselves” – which represents our best and perhaps only hope to live in peace and support one another in our imperfect world.

Looking back over the span of the almost 240 years since Jefferson wrote that brilliant introduction to the Declaration o independence, there has been a vital expansion in many if not all parts of the world of what we believe constitute the Rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.  Examples include the outlawing of the institution of slavery, the conferral of the right to vote to women, and the increasing, though still far from universal, recognition of the right of people to marry another person of the same gender. Our minds must be open to how this list of Rights will properly expand in the future if the dignity and right to Freedom for all people are to be respected.

All and all, it is clear that the precision of Jefferson’s words combined with their openness, is what has allowed us to progress -- albeit unevenly, incompletely, and especially in hindsight at all too often a haltingly and frustratingly slow pace.

I agree with Marilynne Robinson that “if Jefferson could see our world, he would surely feel confirmed in the intuition that led him to couch his anthropology in such open language.  Granting the evils of our time, we must also grant the evils of his and the cultural constraints that so notoriously limited his vision.  Yet, brilliantly, he factors the sense of historical and human limitation into a compressed, essential statement of human circumstance, making a strength and a principle of liberation of his and our radically imperfect understanding.”

We must carry on, living in truth as we best see that truth.




October 4, 2014

Russia-Ukraine-United States and the West
“There’s Plenty Of Blame To Go Around—Now Is The Time for Mature Leaders
To Step Forward To Take The Right Action For The Future”
April 2014
by John E. Pepper, Jr.
Procter & Gamble (1963-2003) Chair of Board and CEO
Introduced P&G to Russian Market in 1991

The most recent turn in the “up and down” relationship among Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the West has been a dismaying sight over the past 6 months  It is the culmination of a number of decisions that might have been different and some historical realities that won’t change.  And, as I reflect how this current situation might have been avoided, there is, I believe, “plenty of blame to go around.”

It is vital to view the situation from the perspectives of all sides, bearing the historical realities and current circumstances of all parties in mind.

 Looking back at the almost 25 years of involvement I have had in Russia and the ex-Soviet Union since 1989, there have been many times when I believed the United States could have done things differently.
 During the challenging ‘90s, we could have provide greater financial, technical and moral support.  We could have gone further in recognizing Russia as a partner.   We never did anything approximating what is now being offered to Ukraine ($27 billion; I only hope that it will happen; similar “promises” have gone wanting) or what we did in the Marshall Plan.  As then-Ambassador Jack Matlock reflected on the United States’ role in the reconstruction of Russia’s economy*:  “My point is not that the Bush administration, or the Clinton administration that followed it, is responsible for the mistakes that were made as the Soviet Union abandoned the command economy and Russia subsequently created a market economy.  They are not.  However, it is clear that most of the assistance and advice given by the West was not particularly helpful.  It was based more on a free-market fundamentalism than on the real problems of creating a market economy out of a collapsed command economy, much of the initial advice was not only useless, but sometimes actually damaging.”

 Following that, the West moved to expand NATO into the bordering regions around Russia, including Poland (1999), the Baltics (2004) and Romania (2004) and Bulgaria (1994).  Then, and of greatest concern to Russia, we advanced the idea of extending NATO to Ukraine and Georgia as well as installing ABM launchers in Poland and the Czech Republic.  With the animosity still overhanging from the Cold War era, this might have been seen in the U.S. as akin to the Soviet Union’s earlier extending the Warsaw Pact to Cuba or Central America. 

Yes, the expansion was done with a benign intention (defensive) but, to a country that had been attacked many times, it looked to many like a surrounding effort.   At a minimum, it fueled the animus of those who wanted to interpret it that way.  It fed the worst fears and allegations of those who wanted to “go back.”
As former Secretary of War, Robert Gates, says in his new book, “Duty:  Memoirs of a Secretary of War”:   “When I took office in 2007, I had shared with the president my belief that from 1993 onward, the West, and particularly the United States, had badly underestimated the magnitude of Russian humiliation in losing the Cold War and then in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which amounted to the end of the centuries-old Russian Empire.  The arrogance, after the collapse, of American government officials, academicians, businessmen, and politicians in telling the Russians how to conduct their domestic and international affairs (not to mention the internal psychological impact of their precipitous fall from superpower status) had led to deep and long-term resentment and bitterness.” 

 Gates continued:  “What I didn’t tell the president was that I believed the relationship with Russia had been badly mismanaged after Bush 41 left office in 1993.  Getting Gorbachev to acquiesce to a unified Germany as a member of NATO had been a huge accomplishment.  But moving so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union to incorporate so many of its formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake.  Including the Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary quickly was the right thing to do, but I believe the process should then have slowed.  U.S. agreements with the Romanian and Bulgarian governments to rotate troops through bases in those countries was a needless provocation (especially since we virtually never deployed the 5,000 troops to either country).  The Russians had long historical ties to Serbia, which we largely ignored.  Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching.  The roots of the Russian Empire trace back to Kiev in the ninth century, so that was an especially monumental provocation.”

 It was also natural for Putin to view the West’s strong support for Kosovo’s separating from Russia’s long-supported ally of Serbia as violating the rights of the Serbian state.  (To be clear, in my view, Kosovo’s achieving independence was the right outcome.)  And especially in hindsight, Russia viewed the invasion of Iraq as an unsanctioned act by the United States and by some Western countries to overthrow a sovereign leader based on weak, if not manufactured, allegations that Saddam Hussein was in the final stages of developing weapons of mass destruction. 

 These realities were combined with enormous and, for me, overblown sensitivity on Putin’s part, grown in part, I suspect, from his career in the KGB.  To say that he became paranoid about the intentions of the United States would not be an over-statement.  And he surely saw it as a means of strengthening his own popularity at a time when it was declining.

 More recently,  Putin has greatly exaggerated the mistreatment of Russians in Ukraine, including Crimea.  Characterization of the folks who went into Maidan Square as “Russia-phobes and Neo-Nazis” has been hyperbolic.  Surely there were some such people there, but to define the entire group in these terms in ludicrous.  Most of them surely simply wanted release from a corrupt and ineffective government.

Finally, we should not be surprised at the reaction that Putin and others in Russia had to the overturning of the agreement that had been reached on February 22 by Yanukovych and other Western countries before the ink was scarcely dry.  This agreement would have probably led to an election by the end of the year which would have voted Yanukovych out of office.  If one believes, as Putin certainly does (and there are reasons for this belief), that the movement in Maidan Square which led to the ouster of Yanukovych was incited to some degree by the West, one could take it as license to act.

 And that’s exactly what Putin did.  I believe he seized on this as an “excuse” to move into Crimea.  It is obviously a purely personal judgment, but I don’t believe if that agreement had been allowed to unfold through the end of the calendar year, Russia would have moved to have the referendum for independence in Crimea or have absorbed it as they have. 

 What’s more, I believe, Putin’s/Russia’s absorption of Crimea will prove to be a costly mistake for Russia and its people.  It will be a financial drain in its own right.  It has already produced sanctions, capital flight, a weaker ruble and it will, at least for a time, dampen foreign direct investment.  Nevertheless, we are where we are.

 Stepping back, Russia has always had and always will have different interests than the United States and the West; some geographical, some ideological in nature.  For example, Russia is far more dedicated to the preservation of existing governments—to very strong governments--that are more autocratic than we believe is right.  The United States acclaims much greater allegiance to individual democracy, to individual rights, to everyone speaking up.

 But, with all that, there are two things that are of paramount importance:
  1. There are many critical issues such as nuclear proliferation, combating terrorism, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, on which it is absolutely critical that Russia, the United States and the West and the entire world work together on cooperatively. 
  2. Alienating and isolating Russia will significantly impede that cooperation.
So, what now? 
  1. We need to clearly define what we will not tolerate (e.g., any incursion into Ukraine or other independent country).
  2. We should recognize that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is not going to be overturned.
  3. We need to try to agree on what is in the common interest of our countries and the world.
  4. We need to identify the specific agenda items which we need to work together.
  5. We need quiet, tough-minded, no-nonsense, respectful interchanges among leaders in Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the West—leaders who understand each other’s history, culture and contemporary realities.
I would like to add here the excellent perspective provided to me by a Professor of Russian History at the University of Cincinnati, Willard Sunderland.

 “The only point I’d suggest adding to your piece is that we should do everything we can to de-emphasize the neo-Cold War rhetoric and casual anti-Russian prejudice that has crept into the way our politicians and journalists/pundits tend to describe Russia.  There are too many simplifications in the way we are representing things, and there’s the risk that our simplifications will work against us.

 Russia today is not the Soviet Union.  We are not on the edge of a titanic global contest between “our way” and “their way.”  You are absolutely right – we have nothing to gain from isolating the country.  Likewise, though Putin is most definitely not a Western liberal or conservative, as all our TV talking heads are telling us, he’s also not a Brezhnev or an Andropov.  I see him as a Russian statist conservative in the mold of the last great tsarist premiere Petr Stolypin.  He wants a strong Russian state and a stable international neighborhood, while also supporting Russia’s full engagement with the world.  I do not think that there’s a plan afoot to gather up the lands of the old USSR motivated by some sort of imperial nostalgia.  He’s not interested in a lot of difficult and costly border changes.  He is a pragmatist more than he is an ideologue.  And he’s also, in my view, far from in charge of everything we’re seeing.  He’s hardly a grand master poring over a would-be chess board, moving every piece exactly where he wants it.  I think he and the Russian power establishment were as shocked by Yanukovich’s flight from Kiev as anyone else.  Much of what’s happened since then has been more opportunism than master strategy.  Putting all of this together, I see a situation in which there is every reason to work with Putin rather than to double-down against him.  To that end, I think your last point is dead on:  firm engagement is the key.  Quiet, persistent, firm engagement.
That is what we need now!




 Few books have meant so much to me as Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.
Of course, I have quoted and thought about Viktor Frankl and his life many times.  His life in concentration camps, his reflections on what that had meant to him.  His so well-expressed belief that it is not one’s circumstances but one’s reaction to them which matters most.  His book, which has gone through countless printings, and sold over 123 million copies, is one that I had never read before.  It is short and utterly profound.  It is founded on the belief that life is not primarily a quest for pleasure or a quest for power, but it is a quest for meaning.  And Frankl finds that quest for meaning deriving from three sources:  an activity or act to which one commits himself; an experience, particularly an experience of love, but also the experiencing of nature; and the meaning that flows from the dignity with which one approaches suffering.
Frankl’s most enduring insight is that forces beyond our control can take away everything we possess except one thing, our freedom to choose how we will respond to a situation.  We cannot control what happens to us in life, but we can always control what we feel and do about it.  We are never left with nothing as long as we retain the freedom to choose how we will respond.  There are so many galvanizing perspectives here:
The advice that one should not aim for success, but rather realize that success like happiness must ensue and always does ensue as the unintended side effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the bi-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. 
I was captured by Frankl’s revealing of a thought which transfixed him in the concentration camp – that for the first time in his life he saw the truth that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.  Surely “the salvation of man is through love and in love.”  At these moments he thought of his wife.  He didn’t even know if she was still alive, but he knew that “love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved.  It finds its deepest meanings in a spiritual being, his inner self.”  He said there was no need for him to know (if she was alive).  “Nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts and the image of my beloved.  Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, the contemplation of her image, and that my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying.”  Isn’t this how we can recall and do recall those whom we have loved who have passed away in death?
Frankl reflects on the choice that the concentration inmates faced.  And he does not suggest that many, let alone all, faced it successfully.  The choice revolved around whether the individual would struggle against the situation to save his self-respect, being an individual with a mind with inner freedom and personal value.  He had the choice of thinking of himself as only part of an enormous mass of people, his existence descended to the level of animal life.  He did not fault those who succumbed to this.  But he celebrated those who maintained their individual dignity, who recognized that finding meaning at that moment involved determining what they could do to make the most of every moment, to capture the view of a living tree or a sunrise, to do something for a fellow inmate. 
Others, “instead of taking the camp’s difficulties as a test of inner strength, preferred to close their eyes and to live in the past.  Life for such people became meaningless … it is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future and this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence, although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task.”
Frankl returns to the thought expressed above many times.  He turns to another thought later in the book which I think has equal merit and, in fact, seems to co-exist with his admonishment of looking to the future.  Here he points out that “instead of possibilities in the future, we can view realities of the past – the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – and nothing, nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.”  He says eloquently that “people tend to see only the stubble in fields of transitory-ness, but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past into which they have brought the harvest of their lives; the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity.”
This is a wonderful thought which I and all of us should take heart from.  We must remember our victories, our blessings, and draw strength from them even as we at the same time identify our purpose and the meaning of our lives as we go forward.  
There’s another aspect of this book which bears deep thought.  And that is the emphasis Frankl brings to the value of not only being what would be described as “useful,” but being valuable in the “sense of dignity” that one displays in living one’s life.  This certainly applies to how one handles setbacks and suffering.  It is important to note that Frankl insists that he’s talking about bearing with suffering which cannot be avoided.  If suffering can be avoided, the first command is to avoid it, but there is other suffering, such as an incurable illness, which cannot be avoided, and it is the dignity and courage with which one handles this, the amount that one still takes from every day, that not only represents living life as well as one can, but represents a model for others to emulate.
Frankl has perspective on “freedom” with which I agree entirely.  He regards freedom as only part of the story.  Freedom is a negative aspect of the whole phenomena within which responsible-ness is the positive aspect.  “In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrary-ness unless it is lived in terms of responsible-ness.” 
Frankl ended his book by noting that rather than talk about “saints,” why not just talk about “decent people.”  “It is true that they form a minority.  More than that, they will always remain a minority.”  Our challenge is to join the minority.  “For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”  Words to sign on to.
[Frankl was once asked to express in one sentence the meaning of his own life.  He wrote the response on paper and asked his students to guess what he had written.  One student surprised Frankl by saying “the meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs.”    “That was it, exactly,” Frankl said.  “Those are the very words I had written.”]
Again, this is a book of less than 170 pages.  It contains enormous wisdom.  I hope that I can internalize the best of it and live it.

October 3, 2014


I have often pondered why Russia developed as it has compared to the United States.  This is a much bigger subject than I can tackle at any point let alone here.  But a reflection or two might be in order:
·      I believe the history of Russia, with all its external threats and invasions and its size, has made strong central control the default path to achieve stability and peace, which is what I submit most people want, especially after a period of war.  This desire is much greater in Russia than in the U.S., which has not had this history of constant, life-taking violence. 
·      The U.S., already free of this kind of past, was born in a period of the enlightenment and was led by men steeped in the values of that period (freedom; rationalism).  Russia did not have this experience.  While there were many liberal thinkers and there was Western influence, particularly under Peter and Catherine the Great, the nation as a whole grew up in a period of autocracy.  In many ways, it missed the enlightenment. 
·      Competing parties developed in America, generally seeking the majority of votes needed to win, while in Russia, parties tended to be suppressed and what developed were groups, some committed to violence -- believing that was the only way to force change within a deeply embedded tsarist system.  That, not surprisingly, caused counter-action by the aristocracy.  There were liberal groups, committed to constitutional government and good values but, over time, they lacked the strength and willingness to use violence sufficient to offset the radical and reactionary forces which they were all too ready to use violence. 
Our Civil War was the one point, it seems to me, when the differences in political and sectional interests reached the point that it took an act of violence to resolve these differences; though as history was to show those differences, specifically as they involved the treatment of the Negro, were far from resolved.  There continued to be violence, too--witness the Klu Klux Klan--related to race, but there continued to be in the main the overriding mind-set that differences could and should be resolved by party government, a well functioning judiciary and the recognition of a balance of states and federal-oriented rights.
I believe the overwhelming percentage of Americans believe (correctly) that the stability and growth of the nation will best be guaranteed through the governmental processes described above, as messy and slow as they can be and are now, as I write this in 2013. 
I return to a question I have asked myself many times, and others have asked me as well:  "What accounts for my deep interest in Russia; why do I seem to love it so?"  On that point, I seriously considered titling my book on P&G's entry into Russia:  "To Russia, with Love." 
As I contemplate this at this moment, I am coming to think "love" is not the right verb.  Rather, I think it is fairer to say I am intrigued by Russia; I am attracted to Russia and to things Russian in many ways; I admire much about Russia, including the character of its people.  I might even say I have been infatuated by Russia and Russian people.
I don't want to make more of this than it warrants or overly dissect or complicate it, but I must warn you:  I am probably about to do that.  So, what does account for this confluence of feelings?
There is the fact that, for me, it represents the singular chapter of P&G's history in which I have been personally involved which has represented the greatest challenge in terms of the political and economic revolution in which our entry took place; a tremendous challenge as we built our business but, in the end, we emerged with great success. 
It is terribly significant that this took place in the nation which, as I grew up, was our nation's greatest threat.  How could I forget ducking under desks as a school child simulating what we would do under Soviet attack; or that I had pursued Russian submarines while in the Navy; and held my breath during the Cuban missile crisis. 
With perhaps an utter lack of realism, I was moved by the opportunity I saw for us at P&G to make some difference to our countries' and peoples' understanding of each other as we created our business there--and I wanted us to make a difference to the people through our brands and by providing a great place to work.
Significant, too, against this background of threat there was the admiration I had for Russian stamina in overcoming so much adversity and tragedy in its history, including the heroism of its people in WWII.  I also admired the athletic, technical and artistic achievements of its people.  In many dimensions, I did not believe it could be matched.  Getting to know and experience a nation and its people which had produced such achievement was an opportunity I treasured.
My attachment and admiration for things Russian grew and grew during the 20 years I visited the country.  I fell in love (and I choose the word carefully here) with Tolstoy's characters and insight on life because it affected my own views on life very meaningfully.  I became deeply moved by the music of composers, particularly Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. 
My attachment to this experience was also influenced by the fact that, in the early years, my son, David, was engaged in it with me. He had just graduated from Yale and was serving as a member of the St. Petersburg Action Commission.  He lived in St. Petersburg and worked directly with then-Vice Mayor Putin, among others. 
There was my continuing study of Russian history begun while still at Yale – a history at once bold, grand, unpredictable, mysterious, perverse (a society committed to the people liquidates millions of them), heroic (overcoming so many enemies), rich with culture, victory and defeat, dominating personalities; a history bearing out the chance and consequence of leadership at a given moment in time (contrast the misfortune of Lenin and the good fortune in Gorbachev), and all the "might have beens."  (What if Stolypin had not been assassinated in 1912 or Witte had just been able to do more?)  Contingencies make for interest in any nation's history.  Russia, it seems to me, has more contingencies than any other country I can think of.  This has been a source of personal fascination to me, interested in history as I am. 
During these two decades, there were unforgettable moments that I can only describe as inspiring and "magic.”  I have had such moments in other countries, but none so many and so dramatic as those in Russia.  I will never forget attending a concert in Moscow Concert Hall in February 1990, featuring the return of Mstislav Rostropovich after 16 years in exile, playing Shostakovich's magnificent 5th Symphony and then "Stars and Stripes Forever.”  The crowd went wild and so did we.  
There was the journey across the country on the Trans-Siberian Express.  For me there is even magic in the name of the train as it describes the vast expanse of the Russian land and there was even more "magic" in the passing villages and trees and rivers.  I was determined to get out on the train station platform at every city we stopped, no matter the time of day or night.  And I did. 
There was my first view of the river Neva and Peter and Paul Fortress and, recently, my navigating the majestic river Volga on a boat with Victor and Valery Kramarenko and viewing the Volga from the beautiful embankment at Yaroslavl and then Ublich.  
There was my first jog around Red Square in the dead of winter in 1990, viewing the tomb of Lenin and recalling the May Day parades showcasing the Soviet Union's military might, and there were the many churches and icons within them that have made me aware of the religious attachment of this nation and so many of its people and brought to me, as almost all churches do, a feeling that I am in some way in touch with God. 
These experiences, momentous and memorable in their own right, undoubtedly took on greater significance because of the historical and business associations I brought to them. 
Above all, there were the people I met and others I knew of; people I admired for their courage and stamina at a time of great challenge.  Sakharov and Gorbachev and Yeltsin and Minister Yasin and Mayor Sobchak of St. Petersburg, and Rector Mercuriev and then Valery Katkalo and Ludmilla Verbitskaya at the University.  There was my work on behalf of the Graduate School of Business, Chairing the Advisory Committee, seeing the school flower under challenging 
circumstances.  That meant a great deal to me and still does today.  
There were our distributors who introduced our brands – and company – across the land. 
There were the P&G employees--Lada Kudrova, Zina Blinnikova, Victor Paulus, 
Natasha Vinogradova, Elena Kudrashova and Natalia Lissina and Yuri Rassokhin, and many more.  I admired their courage, their flare, their spirit, their directness and genuineness and what I would describe simply as their Russianness.  I was struck and appreciated the fact that, although we saw each other only occasionally, many of us came to be friends.  They knew I cared about their country and about them, too. 
There was my very special friendship with Victor Kramarenko and his wife, Galina, and daughter, Valerie.  Victor was my guide professionally in Russia. But he was much more than this.  He and Galina and Valerie provided me with perspectives on history, and on life past and present in every dimension; and, through trips we took together, I experienced the country in a way I never otherwise would have had.  I am immensely grateful to them.  And always will be. 
There has been one other factor cementing my attachment to Russia, and that is the deep conviction that the United States and Russia must and can work together on certain key issues if we are to have the world we all seek.  I refer particularly to working together on terrorism and nuclear proliferation.  If we don't lead on these issues, we will not achieve the progress and the safety the world's future depends on.  It is that simple. 
Still, as I said earlier, with all of these attractions, admirations and perhaps infatuations, it goes a step too far to say I "love" Russia.  There are two reasons I conclude this.
Most of all, I do not feel I know Russia and its people well enough to be entitled to say I love them. 
And truth be told, there are aspects of its history, especially in peoples' treatment of each other, that lead me to stop short of making that declaration.  I feel that more having made my latest trip, with the exposure it gave me to the gulags and liquidation of people.  
I would not want this statement to be too judgmental in a relative sense.  I am well aware of the violation of others' rights carried out by people of all nationalities and at all times, including our own nation with our treatment of blacks, Native Americans and other minorities.  It is sadly an element of human nature to look down on "otherness" sometimes to the point of dismissing the right to freedom for others to the point of annihilation.  We must continue to draw on our better natures to treat others with the dignity everyone deserves. 
Re-reading all of this, I probably make too much of the issue.  I indulge in conducting a debate with myself.  So be it.  I wanted to reflect on a subject I have thought about deeply.  And that is important to me.  The words and thoughts flowed and we are now an hour closer to landing in New York.   And I enjoyed doing it. 
I will conclude these reflections with the final words of my book, “Russian Tide.”
“As I consider the adventures and challenges, not only in Russia but throughout my entire career at P&G, one constant shines through:  the people I’ve worked with and how they live by their values.  This is what I was least able to imagine when I joined P&G – the quality of P&G people and the inspiration they have provided me by what they have done and how they have done it.  Never did I feel that more strongly than during my time in Russia.  Above all, the people at P&G Russia are why my experience in that country has meant so much to me, and I think to all of us who were privileged to be part of building the P&G Russia business.  The people of P&G Russia have made their business the best it can be.  Knowing them and their work, I am certain that, for P&G Russia, the best is yet to come.”