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There are people who are mean — simply heartless and cruel — because they enjoy it. Some lash out because of group dynamics and clique behavior. Others may be cold because of a broken heart or a long-ago slight. Then there is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is cruelly using orphans to thwart the cause of human rights. Putin’s type of meanness is the most dangerous: It’s strategically brilliant. His decision to ban adoptions of Russian children by American parents raises the most unenviable of conundrums for the United States, Europe, and Canada: When a leader like Putin is willing to use orphaned children as political pawns, is the effort to advance human rights really worth it? There is no simple answer, making Putin’s meanness so clever.


Kayyem, Juliette. "The Real Plight of the Orphan-Hostages." Boston Globe, January 7, 2013.