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By: s.i. wells

Vladimir Putin (photo: Time, Inc.)

Vladimir Putin must love jigsaw puzzles.  Once he maneuvered himself into the positions of Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and unofficial Czar of the State Duma, he achieved lifetime job security.  From the safety of his new offices, he began to pass his days reassembling the old Soviet empire piece-by-piece.  Invading Georgia was about as risky as the United States mounting a military take-over of the western portion of Canada’s Ontario Province.  Now that Mr. Putin has road-tested his strategy, however, he is faced with a much more vexing decision - whom does he prefer as his opponent in the future - John McCain or Barack Obama?  If he continues his efforts to assemble his favorite Soviet Union puzzle with a certain enthusiasm, one could expect that Senator McCain would be elected President of the United States.  Senator McCain’s lifelong experience, foreign policy credentials and feisty war hero persona would be prized by American voters.  If, however, Mr. Putin is a more patient man, he might refrain from further military adventures and not highlight Senator Obama’s foreign policy inexperience until after the November elections.  If Mr. Putin wants an untested opponent, he can deceptively cast his vote with olive branches of peace for the time being.

Of course, maybe Mr. Putin has decided that neither Senator McCain nor Senator Obama are truly worthy opponents and he will do what he wants when he wants because he has the power to do so.  He also knows that the United States and Europe can do little to stop him.  With Europe’s significant energy dependence on Russia, Mr. Putin seems to hold all the cards.  Do we care?  Should we care?  Would anyone really care if we captured the great Canadian fishing lakes just north of Minnesota and made them part of the United States?  Canada would probably be out of sorts, but generally there would be no one who could do more than make noise and call us names.

The bigger question is - have we entered an era where nations with the most power will engage in conquest whenever they can?  If China decides to take over Nepal, can the United States really do anything to stop it?  Maybe we should immediately invade Cuba and secure all of its benefits and resources before it is too late.  We already bought Iraq - although we are now beset with a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

We live in a dangerous world where influence is shifting and international laws are flaunted without consequence.  Maybe it is time for us to realize that the last true weapon in a global, internet-connected world is commerce.  If we are independent and strong, our economic actions can be powerful mechanisms of change.  If we are weak and in debt, our threats will be toothless and ignored.  America has a wonderful opportunity this November to make a statement in its own interest.  Only registered voters need apply.

All opinions expressed by s.i. wells are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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