The United States has always had up to the present time a large, in fact, dominating military capability over the Soviet Union and this has always been well known to our military leaders and strategists, including the President.
The average American on the street with no specialized knowledged of military economics, logistics and technology, has often had an exaggerated idea of the threat posed by the Soviet war machine. This is largely because politicians tend to speak out mainly when there is some threat of some kind, so the news tends to disproportionately create stories which emphasize some threat or other, even though in the large, the Soviet empire has never posed a serious threat to the United States.
The Soviets themselves, and their successor state, the Russian republic, has always been acutely aware of their inferiority and has focused its resources on developing specific technologies that give them a defensive or deterrent capability.
ikalugin's comments about the various types of dysfunction in the NATO organization have a certain validity. NATO's purpose, however, is to be more or less a bureaucratic/diplomatic soldier's club, not an effective fighting force. In the event of a war, the Russians would be fighting the combined military forces of the United States, not NATO.
In a real war, technical superiority is usually secondary to material and manpower quantity, and in both of these departments the United States dominates Russia, especially in its productive capacity. For example, Russia has about 300,000 men in its army and the United States has over 1 million, and the American soldiers are much better trained, equipped and supported. If you factor in the US economy, which is 8 times the size of the Russian economy, it is obvious the US would annihilate Russia in any all-out war.