Bill Whittle speculates that we as Americans cannot understand the Russian people and the KGB.
Whittle's thesis may be valid. The KGB operated as the secret police, manned and headed by psychopaths who rose in the ranks precisely because of their savagery and sadism. What happened for decades in the old Soviet Union is what generally happens in revolutions. It was a prolonged version of the Reign of Terror against, as always, "enemies of the revolution". The same thing happened in China, in Cuba, in Cambodia, in Vietnam. Anywhere and everywhere there was ever a "people's revolution" and the overthrow of a long-standing, sometimes despotic regime, it was generally followed by such a cleansing. We just saw a little of it in Egypt until Morsi was removed. We're seeing it in Libya, if we would care to look. We will see it in Syria if Assad is ever displaced. What do you suppose is going on in Iraq at the moment?
I would argue that it is hardly a unique Russian phenomenon except, perhaps, with regard to the number of years that it went on. The Nazis had their version based on the settled science of eugenics rather than economics. No nation, no race, no ethnic group has a corner on the market. There are amoral people, psychopaths, sadists and perverts everywhere. It's simply that in a chaotic environment, as in the aftermath of revolution, those seeking to bring stability and consolidate power may resort to any means necessary. People with little or no empathy and compassion, the cold-blooded and cruel too often become the means chosen.
As most of us are aware, there is a trend in American law enforcement toward increasing militarization and the nurturing of a view that sees all the public as potential threats. There is no difference, except in terms of technology, between the KGB's network of informants and the NSA's network of keyword sniffers, nosing into every form of private communication among the citizens they claim to "serve and protect". When grandmothers and babies have to be terrorized by the TSA in the name of fighting terrorism, when Barney Fife is traversing quiet American streets in Mine Resistant Armored Personnel Carriers, when every email and phone conversation between any two American citizens is subject to scrutiny by our "security" agencies, just how far are we from the mentality of the Russians who were terrorized and subjugated by the KGB?
Our government justifies the trampling of our constitutionally enumerated rights based on the necessity to fight drug trafficking and terrorism. Yet, this same government that routinely monitors cash deposits at your local bank, that won't let me on an airplane with a pen knife, that sends SWAT teams after non-violent offenders and shoots family pets as a matter of course -- this same government is refusing to seal the southern border over which are pouring thousands of potential terrorists, violent gang members, and known drug cartel members.
I'm not questioning Bill Whittle's insights on Putin and the potential for a confrontation. I'm just saying that, personally, Moscow worries me less right now than Washington, D.C.