Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

War & Peace – a conversation with Kira Kariakin

Written by on . Published in War - peace

From Kira:

Dear Tom

I think your opinions are very interesting and provocative – I like them-, specially because United States Americans have a particular way of experience war. Always from away (with the exception of the civil war). You send soldiers to do war, and the only attacks on your soil ever were Pearl Harbor and 9/11, of which today is another anniversary. That is very peculiar because then the experience of war is perceived very differently from those who had them in their own lands for years.

Wars are paradoxical. In my case I wouldn´t exist if it wasn´t for 2 wars. The Russian Revolution and the Second World War. My grandmother and my father wouldn´t have suffered displacement and loss, but then they wouldn´t have arrived at some point in Venezuela. But I rather not exist if I could have taken from them all that suffering, or the horrors they witnessed that made them deeply sad when they remembered them.

My president is menacing now with a civil war if he losses the election and now I wonder if I would be able to kill somebody or let myself be killed defending the results of some elections or contesting them. So all the questions in your questionnaire are actually worth writing about. And I certainly will do following what I have written here.

This is a fantastic content package.

Very kind regards,


From Tom:

Dear Kira –

My own grandfather was Belorussian, and fled the 1918 revolution as well as a young man. He would eventually join the US Army, and go on to interpret for Roosevelt (or was it Eisenhower?) and Stalin at the conferences in Yalta and Tehran.

My other grandfather was an American serviceman who met my grandmother, who was German, in postwar Berlin. My grandmother and my mother, who was 4 at the time, came through Ellis Island and moved to Washington, DC, but my grandfather was posted to Okinawa, Japan shortly thereafter, leaving them alone, lonely, and with little English in an unfamiliar city, when telephone conversations were expensive and Skype didn’t exist.

I think many of us have these stories, and I hope many of them will be shared. I am so grateful that you shared some of your family’s history with me.



From Kira:

Hi Tom

I guessed you had a particular background story like that. Most americans do and that is something that fascinates me. How we inhabit a world comprised by people product of tough circumstances like wars and consequential migrations.

My great grand mother was bielorrussian too :)

Kind regards,


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Tom Fries Twitter: @tom_friesTom

Erstwhile neuroscientist ('97-'00), rowing coach ('99-'10), business student ('07-'09) and cupcake entrepreneur ('09). Now enjoying international work in the Germany and Washington offices of one of Germany's most prominent think tanks.