Why did We Study Russian?
Twenty years ago in the United States the answer to this question was obvious.
With the United States and the Soviet Union enshrined as the two antagonistic
super-powers, news stories about Russian-related topics were on the front-page
every day. The government was willing to support research and learning related
to our most feared enemy, and students were fascinated by the Soviet enigma.
For a good history of the cold war, you can look at CNN's Cold
War and PBS's RedFiles
When it came to figuring out what to do with a hard-won knowledge of Russian,
however, the situation was more complicated. Of course, there were a certain
number of jobs available at Government agencies and in universities and colleges,
but in reality prospects for making use of Russian in most professional contexts
were extremely limited.