I do not think that the USSR can be considered a real aggressor. United States military forces have seen major deployments outside the United States a total of 22 times since 1950. In that period, the USSR deployed outside its borders 6 times. While the US (and the West) obviously have a much better human rights record in their own nations, foreign policy is a much different matter. It would be hard to incriminate the USSR for its foreign adventures when similar American actions are taken into account. It has long been proven that the "missile gap" and the "bomber gap" were myths. The USSR from the very beginning practiced "minimum deterrence", possessing just enough weapons to mount a counterstrike deadly enough to prohibit the United States from conducting a first strike. In the US however, military intellectuals throughout the Cold War, most from the RAND Corporation were trying to find ways to actually use nuclear weapons in wartime (Rumsfeld and now his supporters at the Pentagon are still trying to include nuclear weapons as "just another tool"). The massive buildup of US missiles (due to the ficticious "gaps") obliged the USSR to also increase its arsenal. The continuing trend throughout the Cold War was that of US provocation, and Soviet response. I would argue that today the US is practicing the same tactics with China. By initiating a military alliance with India just last year, the US has completed the encirclement of China with US allies. China realizes its position and will not do anything, but this can change quickly if domestic conditions shift towards democracy, and the Chinese people have any say about it. The fact that the Chinese government has so much control over the population has meant that China is extremely stable and predictable, no matter how provocative US moves are. The same goes for the USSR. Soviet leaders knew what "containment" meant, and they knew that to challenge it could mean WWIII, so they didnt. I think we in the West give too much credit to our leaders for avoiding all-out nuclear warfare, and not enough to the cool heads in the USSR.