I've been curious about this for quite a long time.
Russia and the United States have a long and complex history with one another, on the one hand putative enemies due to differing value systems, on the other friendly rivals, and on yet another level, close allies to overcome existential political, economic, social, or power threats.
When I was a child, of course, I was indoctrinated with all the anti-Communist/anti-Soviet propaganda everyone else was. We lived through endless iterations of the looming nuclear annihilation game, the repetitive duck and cover drills, the frequent measurements between our happy homes and likely targets for ICBMs and long range bombers. Of course, the enemy du jour was Joe Stalin and after he died, it was still Stalin until the Kremlin sorted out its power structure and Nikita Khrushchev got to the top of the heap.
That was a bit disorienting because we'd been taught to believe Stalin was the Devil, and Khrushchev just didn't seem to be all that threatening. More like a somewhat crazed uncle.
And the stories we were told about the appalling conditions in the Soviet Union either lacked context or were outright false. For some reason, I don't recall how it happened, I became aware of the falsehood of the anti-Soviet propaganda we young were indoctrinated with very early on. I'd like to think it was through anti-anti-Soviet propaganda organs like "Soviet Life" which was distributed fairly widely in the late Fifties, but I can't recall seeing it before my eyes were opened to the fact that we were being fed fabrications and lies.
I may have learned of the propaganda and lies through a teacher instead. Mr. Beeson was my fifth grade teacher, and I recall he was being "investigated" for God knows what, but I think it was for "Communist Sympathies" among other things. He was gone from the classroom for several days, perhaps weeks, and when he came back, he was very subdued. But I think he was the one who clued us to the fact that propaganda of any kind wasn't "fact," it was meant to sway our minds and build up loyalty and patriotism toward our own country and animosity and hatred toward -- THEM. It was perhaps my first lesson in critical thinking.
I see many echoes of that indoctrination in the New Hitler/Boogeyman, anti-Putin, anti-Russian propaganda we're being flooded with these days. Putin-The-Devil is everywhere, inescapable, and yet I see very little that even makes sense, let alone has any sort of evidence to back it up or factual basis whatever.
But even if there were concrete facts to back the propaganda -- there aren't -- the correct approach is skeptical disinterest, a "so what?" rather than the increasingly shrill and belligerent demands and ultimatums.
What's really going on here, in other words?
The Official CT (if you can call it that) is being driven by the same internal government faction that drove the drumbeats that led to the Iraq invasion and the subsequent catastrophe, and the demonization of Putin, the Otherization of Russia and its people, is right out of the neocon playbook which has been known for almost 20 years (Project for the New American Century, etc.) The point being to establish the USofA as the unrivaled global hegemon by destroying or absorbing any and all rivals.
Including the Russian Federation (aka "New Soviet Empire") and China. The destruction of the Middle East and Arab North Africa fit right in to the Plan as it was announced years and years ago.
It's an Anglo-American-Israeli plot to Rule the World for ever and ever, rAmen.
These people are relentless, they don't give up, and they will have their way by hook or by crook. Hillary is fully on board with their evil plans, according to the common CT understanding, whereas Trump, for all his many faults, is not.
I don't buy that Trump is not on board, but that's a side issue.
The issue for me is that this faction within the government (and those who own said government) is playing with fire, and it seems to have a Bourbon level inability to learn from mistakes or even to acknowledge them. Iraq was a great success according to them; the ruin of Syria is going according to plan; the rise of rebel jihadist groups and their terrorist accompaniment is useful to keep domestic populations in line and uncomplaining; the flattening of Yemen is necessary for the Saudi regional hegemony and to teach a lesson to anyone who would challenge the mighty-might of the Empire;
periodic Gaza flattening likewise.
India and Pakistan going at it is part and parcel of the Imperial Project; the chaos in much of Africa is meant to be. The economic turmoil in China is a precursor of Imperial Will to Power. It's all been gamed out, and the Hegemonic Axis of Anglo-American-Israeli power always comes out the winner.
Except when it doesn't. Which apparently the military has found is the case in any direct conflict with a fully engaged major or minor power. In other words, the Imperial Axis can't win against, say, Iran or Russia, or even a determined group of rebels unconnected with a nation-state. Thus the current efforts at subversion and undermining such states and rebel groups, much like the Color Revolutions of the 80s and 90s or the more recent Arab Spring/Maidan uprisings.
It's all part of the Imperial Project.
It's disturbing to say the least.
There is much hoo-hah over the likelihood of a nuclear exchange with Russia should The Hag assume the Mantle of the Presidency. I don't think it will happen. More likely in my view is a "non-aggression pact" between the two supposed Super Powers. In other words, some imitation of what has long been going on between US and Russian/Soviet rivals. Russia will bluster but back down in the end, and the US will step back from the brink. Nevertheless, it's a dangerous and a fool's game that shouldn't be played at all. Easy for me to say, right?
Of course, Russia is no longer a "super-power" and is unlikely to use its stockpile of nuclear weapons except in defensive extremity. Despite the propaganda barrage, things haven't deteriorated that far. Not yet, anyway.
And too, it's all a racket, meant to enhance the power and authority of a certain bloodthirsty faction among Our Rulers -- and theirs (the Russian ruling elite) as well, it would seem. For profit. For gain. For ultimate glory.
But it's built in to the way our government and its owners believe and act. There is little or nothing one can do about it from outside. Not much the other factions can or will do from inside.
We're fucked no matter which way we turn, much as was the case during the previous anti-Soviet churn.