"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Someone Please Explain to Me How We're Not Doing What We Were Afraid the Russians Would Do
Remember the Cold War? Remember going to see 'The Hunt for Red October'? Remember being petrified of those evil, murdering Russians?
Think back to that time. (Yes, I'm young, but I still caught the tail end of it.) There we were, doing our best to contain a growing, power-hungry monster, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
And what was it that those bastards were doing? I'll tell you what: Through a cunning combination of financial aid, military intimidation, and often outright invasion, these Soviets were literally trying to take over the world. They had no problem invading other countries, and no compunction about killing innocent people, even their own citizens.
Now why was this? Well, the people running the Soviet Union really believed in their ideology. Most of them'especially as we move down from the highest positions of power to the lowly soldier patrolling in Chechnya'thought that whatever the cost, whatever the sacrifice, no matter how many enemies had to be mercilessly annihilated, it was all worth it. Because their vision of the communist society was so much better than the crappy world they saw around them. Even if their conquered subjects didn't appreciate it at the time, eventually everyone would realize the benefits of worldwide communism.
Outsiders criticized their actions, of course. Tenderhearted people in other countries protested, for example, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But these critics failed to understand the geopolitical realities. The Soviet Union had been viciously attacked by the right-wing Nazi Germany, after a deal supposedly guaranteeing neutrality. Millions died defending their motherland. No way were the Soviets going to allow that to happen again.
And anyway, the Soviet soldier would think, why the sympathy for Afghanistan? These critics had no idea how poor and uncivilized the miserable Afghanis were. Compare the standard of living in Moscow and Kabul, if you want to understand the benefits of incorporation into the USSR. Moreover, in all of the countries conquered or influenced by the Soviets, there were always indigenous groups to welcome the communist liberators. Yes, rule by the Kremlin might not be the best deal for the people of Poland, but surely it was better than the Poles' sorry lot under the exploitive fascists and their system of wage slavery.
Of course, even though we can understand this mentality, we know the Soviet imperialists were wrong. Indeed, they were doing nothing short of blanketing the world in an Evil Empire. They didn't realize that, no matter how much better they thought their own way of life was, they had no right to violently foist their system on other people. And they couldn't see that their own belligerence was the major reason other countries built nuclear weapons and pointed them at Russian targets.
Fortunately, the Soviet menace evaporated largely on its own. The great war to eliminate the Russian monster proved unnecessary. The estimates of the 'missile gap' in the 1950s turned out to be exactly backward'yes, there was a huge disparity in the number of ICBMs, but it was in favor of the Americans.
And for all the talk about the wonders of industrialization under farsighted central planning, soon even the ignorant Russian civilians realized that they were the primary victims of their horrible system. They finally stopped believing the stream of lies spewing from their 'leaders,' and realized that the global fear and hatred of their country was completely justified.
No outside force destroyed the Soviet Union. It was built on lies, theft, and murder. In the long run, such a system cannot last. Thank goodness there aren't countries like that anymore.