Full Interview List

In 2012-13, as part of an Open Society Foundation fellowship, I re-interviewed many of the people I talked to in 1990 when I traveled for seven months through East-Central Europe. Twenty-three years later, I also interviewed a wide range of additional people in order to get as broad a picture as possible of what has changed (and not changed) in the region since the transformations of 1989. I send...
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A Migrant’s Story

People have been leaving East-Central Europe in droves to get better jobs and opportunities further to the west. These diaspora populations are now very visible in the UK, France, and Germany. Considerably less attention, however, has been paid to all the people that have come to East-Central Europe in search of better lives. The region has long been a transit area for those seeking eventual safe...
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Guilt as Destiny

Diaspora communities played a major role in feeding the fires of conflict in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Paul Hockenos detailed in his book Homeland Calling, émigré communities of Serbs, Croats, Kosovars and others supported nationalist leaders, funded guerrilla armies, returned to fight in the wars and serve in the new governments, and even generated some of the more extreme ideas that...
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The Fetishism of Economic Growth

Capitalism and Communism shared one important principle in common: an almost religious devotion to economic growth. If a Five Year Plan didn’t produce the expected “great leap forward,” Communist officials fudged the figures. If a capitalist economy dipped into recession, economists tried to put the best face on the resulting “creative destruction,” arguing that it would prepare the...
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The Failure of Nationalist Politics

The European financial crisis certainly prepared the ground for the growth of nationalist parties throughout the continent, particularly along the eastern frontier. Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Golden Dawn in Greece all benefited from the economic downturn. But amid all the attention the media has focused on this nationalist surge, it’s important to remember that many parts of the...
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Modernizing the Polish Military

By law, Poland must spend at least 1.95 percent of its GDP on its military. That’s just a shade under the 2 percent that NATO asks its members to devote. Aside from Estonia, however, Poland is way ahead of the rest of the region in military spending. And when President Barack Obama visited Poland in June 2014, Poland committed to upping its allocation to 2 percent, with an expectation that it...
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