By GENE H. McINTYRE

Russia has been on the map of the world for hundreds of years.  For 300 of those years it was led by a totalitarian monarchy whose despotic Romanov family kept the Russian people totally repressed and servile.  In comparing histories, no two nations, Russia and the US, have different founding principles

Shortly before World War II, under megalomaniac Stalin, the USSR signed a non-aggression pact with Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany that lasted long enough for those two nations to invade and carve up Poland.  Two years later, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and they went at killing each other until WW II ended in 1945. Thereafter, the Cold War emerged in 1947 as the Eastern Bloc (mainly the USSR) confronted the Western states (mainly the USA) under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO, formed in 1949.

Thereafter for decades, Russians and Americans nail-bitingly feared nuclear war until, with considerable wait-and-see, USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, in the 1960s, liberalized things a bit, and later, in the 1980s, when the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies called “glasnost” and “perestroika.”  The Cold War ended during Gorbachev’s tenure wherein the Eastern Bloc totally fell apart with its satellite nations going their separate ways and the Russian people embracing a few freedoms, along with a new economy outside of building war machines.

After the USSR disappeared, Russia has mostly stood alone in eastern Europe with, more recently, Vladimir Putin as its leader, he having moved through the ranks in the former USSR secret police, the brutal and murderous KGB, to become President of Russia. He was also Russia’s prime minister and held the office of president of Russia once before his present tenure, 2000 to 2008.

It’s a well-known fact that President Putin was totally opposed to the USSR breaking up and has been mightily chafing under its emasculated consequences ever since: The loss of its world standing and empire-sized power juxtapositioned it against the USA, making them equal in the minds of many people.  Whatever the case, one could argue that the USSR lost the Cold War and the USA won it while not only Putin, but his former comrades, “burn” with a score to settle.

So, Putin, a man who grew up and became a highly successful Communist Party apparatchik in an authoritarian USSR, and one who notoriously, then and now, disposed and disposes of anyone in his way, has set out, putting his power and authority to making Russia great again while dedicating himself to the demise of the USA.  He has already achieved a huge victory as he and his henchmen had a hand in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election while are dedicated to repeat their mischief in the immediate future, attempting to delegitimize our political institutions through cyberspace attacks by taking advantage of our political and social divisions.

Why are he and President Trump believed buddies, with Trump supporting him?  Because he knows that Trump is a self-centered, egotistical American who cares mainly about himself and his family and scoffs at America’s freedoms, focusing now on the first amendment’s freedom of the press. Putin grew up in a totalitarian world as did Trump who was led to believe he must win what he undertakes by any means possible, even if those means will bring an end to a Constitutionally-established society that has afforded him the freedom to practice his creed of self-aggrandizement, lawful or not.

President Trump has fought every step of the way to stop the investigative efforts intended to find out how the Russian interventions took place and what the USA must do to prevent more destruction by the Russians. Trump in his private dealings with Putin and Russian oligarchs has a sword of Damocles hanging over his head due to his suspected actions in Russia, possibly criminal in nature, but would bring considerable damage if revealed.

The future of every American alive today has a stake in this matter.  Many Americans have indicated indifference. Getting behind the federal agency investigations, but threatened by Trump, should be in every American’s interest because they threaten us. Then, too, keep in mind a couple of interesting facts: Putin hates the press and Trump proves daily he does, too; Putin’s big deal for the Russian economy is oil, its profitable sale and ubiquitous uses and therefore is against the  Paris Accord which promotes clean energy while Trump has officially ended the US role in it; and, both Putin and Trump seek greatness, Putin for his country and Trump for himself and his family.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)