re: "this is getting scary"
"Yes indeed, the USSR was big."
"(T)he now-lonely country of Russia, without any of those Soviet satellites, is still the largest country on earth."
"(T)he Soviets used to say they’d wipe us off the planet. But this was not specifically a nuclear threat, although they definitely had the nuclear capacity. The idea was that their system would replace ours though its sheer superiority."
"(T)he Cold War (I can’t believe I’m having to say this to a Presidential candidate; and they call Bush stupid!) was called “cold” for a reason. The “hot” part was fought by proxy—by amassing influence and power in smaller countries such as, yes, Cuba, and even Vietnam. The danger was not just the nuclear weaponry of the Soviets, it was their slow accretion of power around the globe.
That conflict, by the way, was not ended by talking.
But Iran, although somewhat different from the Soviet Union, is similar in some ways. It is smaller, but the Iranians loom large on the world stage, and have since 1979—mostly in somewhat clandestine ways, but sometimes overtly. They have influence in the region and want to get more, and they fund terrorism round the globe. They have threatened to do the very thing you say the Soviets wanted to do—wipe us off the planet, either ideologically or in actuality—and they are far more willing to risk their own populace in order to do so.
Iran is a theocracy. Although Communism had aspects of religion, the Communists were men (and women) of this world, not the next. They expected to succeed in very practical terms on earth, not in the world to come. Iran is quite different: rewards in this world or the next work for them. The Soviets were interested in military, economic, and other kinds of earthly power; and although the Iranians are not averse to that and in fact crave it, their stakes (and aims) are even higher: our eternal souls."