Letter: A new Soviet Union?
Not so long ago, Russia, the KGB and the Soviet Union were feared by all of Europe and watched closely by the United States and other members of NATO. During the Cold War, the U.S. established a very large permanent military presence in Europe to protect our NATO allies and the rest of the world from the communist military war machine Russia and the KGB turned the Soviet Union into after World War II. They mass produced military weapons, vehicles and equipment. They also mass produced nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. The KGB, what some naïve people claim was dismantled with the so-called fall of Russia, was the heart and brain of the Soviet war machine.
During the mid-1980s, what was once considered the most feared war machine and country on the planet became almost completely submissive to the United States and the rest of NATO. Cold War border check points, fences, mine fields and walls that served to keep Soviet Bloc citizens in and all others out were removed. Countries that were once part of Russia’s and the KGB’s mighty Soviet Union were given their independence and several joined NATO. In the world’s eyes, the feared war machine had crumbled from within. Or did it? Was it all part of a master plan to actually expand Russian and the KGB control over Europe?
As an Army soldier stationed in Germany near the East German border, I witnessed the initial exodus of people who crossed the border from the Soviet bloc side. We moved furniture, bedding and other supplies from the American occupied post where I was stationed to a nearby German army post to set up temporary lodging for those who wanted to leave what used to be Russian- and KGB-controlled countries. They were housed, fed, provided medical care and assisted in obtaining employment. Astoundingly, there seemed to be little or no control over who was coming from the Soviet side. I, many of the leaders I served under and many of my peers were skeptical about the Russian bear suddenly turning into a submissive kitty cat. We were trained to be cautious about everything involving Russia, the KGB and the Soviet Union.
In the beginning of the post-Cold War era all seemed well. Russians began investing in NATO countries; NATO countries began investing in Russia and the United States began dismantling its military presence in Germany and the rest of Europe. The U.S. also allowed countless persons from Russia and other Soviet bloc countries to enter its borders with little or no scrutiny. NATO-aligned European countries began to become dependent on Russian oil, gas and money. More and more countries began trusting Russia, but along with the good that came from that trust also came the bad. Before long we started to realize a Russian Mafia taking hold in U.S. cities, increases in human trafficking, increases in the sex trade, multimillion dollar financial scams and other illegal and society degrading activities that have been traced back to Russian origin.
Now the world sees a new and more capable Russia that is figure headed by Vladimir Putin who is a member of the KGB or whatever its new name may be. Through its so-called submission Russia and the KGB achieved being included in the technology revolution, dismantling the Cold War U.S. military presence in Europe and gaining the trust and dependency of “our” NATO allies. With our Cold War military capabilities dismantled in Europe and many of our NATO allies now dependent upon Russia, what can the U.S. do to prevent Russia from reassembling a more powerful Soviet Union that includes all European countries? Trying to financially force Russia back into submission has little chance of success because they do not need the U.S. for anything and can provide all of the resources needed throughout Europe. Let us all hope and pray our soldiers are not sent into Ukraine or anywhere else to fight without the necessary training, equipment, resources and support to survive against adversaries as well armed and trained as Russia, the KGB and their allies.
Kenneth E. Hogge Sr.
Gloucester Point, Va.