I served in the U.S. Navy from the closing days of the Vietnam War through the height of the cold war. Ho Chi Minh was a Russian proxy. The USSR was a sworn enemy of the United States.
From the time that I entered the Navy, the methods used by Soviet spies to compromise servicemen and women were drilled into us. The bottom line was that once an operative, whether man or woman, had the softest of hooks in you, you were compromised.
Once snared, the demands for technical and logistical information increased. Compromised people would be threatened with exposure, no matter how minor the offense. This is what we were taught from day one.
Again, the bottom line was (and still is): America and Russia were enemies. In no manner did Russia have American interests at heart, or vice versa.
Then the Berlin wall came down. And after a long and bloody war, the Soviets were run out of Afghanistan — their Vietnam — with American help. Shortly thereafter, the USSR collapsed. The Soviet bloc was in financial ruin, and collapsed into a diaspora of self-governing nation states.
The oligarch class rose from the ashes of the USSR’s demise. A handful of men essentially bought the country’s infrastructure. They made a lot of money. A lot. Eventually, they needed new fields to till in order to increase their wealth and influence. They looked to the West.
Over the next few decades, and with easing of cold war tensions between the US and Russia, oligarch investments in America increased dramatically for a variety of purposes, but primarily, for money laundering in real estate ventures. And this is when they started buying people.
All of this, like a good KGB/GRU spy op, ran below the surface. Very wealthy, and politically involved or connected Americans became compromised by these interests because they wanted in on the gravy train. The effort to compromise these captains of industry and political figures wasn’t that entirely complex or much different from the cold war tactics in which I was schooled.
The Russian government and their oligarchs are inseparable and linked at the hip. There’s a reason that Vladimir Putin is the richest man on earth. Richer than Jeff Bezos. Richer than Bill Gates. But you don’t hear about his wealth in the Forbes 100. What you see is his influence on the actions of other oligarchs.
There is a reason why so many in positions of GOP leadership seem to be enthralled with Russia, and their style of authoritarianism. Money. Money. Money. It’s all about the benjamins.
When I served, it was about protecting American interests from conflict with and interference in this country’s internal affairs by Russian agents of chaos. My shipmates and I went places we shouldn’t have been. We did things that I’m still, many years later, duty bound to not discuss. Because Russia was — and is — the enemy of democracy.
So, it makes my blood boil when I hear someone like Tucker Carlson saying, on his nightly infotainment show, “I’m rooting for Russia.” Yes, he actually said that.