The old Soviet Union was formed using the force of Russian troops in a blitzkrieg that encompassed all of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II. The USSR waxed powerful - at least, according to their propaganda - and tried to become a major player on the world stage. However, the truth was something else entirely.

The Soviet experience was the final evidence that collectivist governments, like that currently being pushed by progressives in this country, are doomed to failure by their very design. Just as with every other system of economics, there are always those who have too much and those who have nothing at all.

Under capitalism, people amass wealth through their own wits and efforts, and benefit from their willingness to work hard to get ahead. By making wise choices and having marketable skills, even the poorest can become we althy. In a socialist system, those in control have all of the wealth, and everyone else is a slave to them. It is the old feudal lords and the serfs that Western civilization finally overcame, while Eastern civilization, as embodied by China, is a feudal system to this day.

The collapse of the Soviet Union returned Russia to approximately what and where it was before World War II. That meant all of the fertile Ukrainian and Belarus fields were lost for growing crops. The Polish coal mines and the Kazakhstani oil and mineral deposits were no longer available. However, it was discovered that Russia had large deposits of petroleum, and the old hierarchy of the KGB - in English, the Committee for State Security, now split into the FS, Federal Security Service, and the SVR, Foreign Intelligence Service - took control of that single remaining lever of power.

Every ruler since the dissolution of the USSR has ruled with the support of these two branches. In fact, Vladimir Putin, who has been the president and/or prime minister of Russia since 1999, is a former junior KGB officer and a former head of the FSB.

Russia's entire economy now consists of the oil they can pump from the ground and sell, and they have been trying to leverage their oil output to enrich themselves as much as possible. But, not being stupid, they also know they cannot survive long term on a single source of income. They need to regain the lands they had lost at the collapse of the Soviet Union so they can diversify their economy and again become the behemoth they once thought they were.

They are looking greedily at their old satellites, which are all doing much better under their new capitalist systems, than is Russia, as a single-commodity oligarchy. They are goading the Chinese to be adventurous so the West will be distracted from Eastern Europe. They are chessmasters who plan and think through every move before they begin. The Russians are less patient than the Chinese. They are every bit as megalomaniacal as their mirror-image in the Far East, but are a lot more impulsive and prone to doing something stupid.

This creates a very dangerous situation for the U.S. to be in: faced by the expansionist Chinese across the Pacific to our west and the expansionist Russians across the Atlantic to our east. It is almost the way we were faced by the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in Asia back in 1941. Hopefully, we won't have to go to war to settle it this time, because if we do, I believe it will get very messy.

Dr. Jonathan C. Jobe, of Crescent Valley, is a retired educator and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

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