A recent poll asked Americans to identify what they believed was the greatest threat to U.S. security in the world today. For a third of America, the greatest threat American security faces comes from the Chinese. Saddam Hussein was the choice of fifteen percent of those polled. A mere eight percent of those polls cited Russia as our greatest security threat.

Of all the nations on earth, no other comes even close to Russia’s capacity to inflict damage on the United States. China has only a relative handful of nuclear weapons that pose a direct threat to the US — Russia has 27,000. While Saddam may have chemical and biological weapons enough to kill every living thing on earth, he has no effective delivery system. Russia, on the other hand, could destroy America with a single blow. There are those in the Russian military who believe that since America has changed its response policy from that of “launch on warning” to one of “launch on impact,” there may be time enough to deal us a mortal blow before we can retaliate.

Indeed, the professed state of the Russian military made such a policy shift necessary. For example, earlier this month, the Russians admitted to losing control of four military satellites that form part of its early warning system.

The breakdown was caused by a fire at a relay station, but experts are renewing warnings that Russia’s decaying infrastructure could eventually result in an accidental missile launch. Adopting a “launch on impact” policy gives the Russians time to notify Washington in the event of such an accident before it escalates into a nuclear conflagration. But it also opens a window of opportunity — however slightly — for a decisive pre-emptive strike.

But while its infrastructure crumbles, Russia is going full speed ahead in military research and development projects being conducted under the label of “military reform.” Following the Kursk disaster, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to revive both the Russian military and the Russian state.

One of Putin’s “reform” plans involved putting old KGB comrades into positions of power. The new head of the Russian defense ministry is former KGB officer Sergei Ivanov. The first question facing Ivanov is how to divide Russia’s limited resources between its strategic nuclear forces and its conventional military force. The conflict in Chechnya revealed a conventional military force inadequate to the task.

Despite that, Moscow remains committed to reclaiming its status as a global superpower. Gorbachev’s perestroika notwithstanding, Russian ambitions have not changed.

Defense analyst Eric Margolis writes of a conversation he once had with former Pakistani President Zia in the 1980’s. Margolis related that Zia handed him a book on Russian foreign policy saying, “Read this book fifteen or fifty years from now and Russia’s policy will be the same as it is today, no matter who rules Moscow.”

Perestroika was and remains a con job of the first order. It was based on principles developed by Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci who developed a new and improved concept of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. Back in 1984, former KGB officer Anatoly Golitsyn wrote a book entitled “New Lies for Old” that forecast the fall of the Soviet Union as part of a long term plan.

Golitsyn alleged perestroika was not a Gorbachev policy invented in 1985, but the final phase of a plan formulated in the years 1958 to 1960. Golitsyn said the plan involved a “theatrical display of democratization designed to convince the West a decisive break with the past has taken place. This encourages Western governments to collaborate with former Communists. At the same time, there is the threat of a return to the Cold War if the West does not cooperate.” Golitsyn outlined Soviet perestroika policy the year before it was ostensibly even invented. His accuracy rate cannot be explained away by guesswork or some kind of false conspiracy theory. Only a real conspiracy will do.

Vladimir Putin rose to power mysteriously, out of nowhere, in what amounted to a bloodless, silent coup d’etat against Boris Yeltsin. (See “Rebuilding Russia in the Soviet image.”)

Under his supervision, Moscow began to rebuild the old Soviet Union. KGB security forces keep the Communist rulers of Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan in power. Russian troops are waging a secret war against insurgents in Tajikistan. The KGB is arming Armenia while destabilizing the governments of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Moscow has already crushed independence movements in Ingushetia and Dagestan. And it will eventually reclaim the oil rich republic of Chechnya.

Moscow is the driving force behind India’s nuclear military. It is also selling weapons and technology to China, who then pass it on to India’s nuclear rival, Pakistan. Destablization is an old Soviet political tool whose value is well recognized by Vladimir Putin. It continues to back Serbia, while KGB operatives are busy behind the scenes in former Soviet states like Poland and the Ukraine.

The Russian bear is not dead. In fact, what we thought was a mortal wound may have been nothing more than an elaborate deception. Judging by the complacency of Americans as suggested by the poll cited at the beginning of this column, it was a very effective deception indeed.

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