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I’m not sure that Putin’s version of capitalism is a great resume-builder. There are chihuahuas and there are great danes, too, but there are few breeds I’d even consider if we ever got another dog – and highly bred, “modern” dogs are not among them, even though they are still called dogs. Give me a Jindo, Canaan dog, or Carolina dog any day over some modern thing they call a dog. So it is with capitalism – there is capitalism and there is capitalism…. And like the dogs, some varieties smell badly, and a few smell very little or not at all.

What’s certain is that Putin is highly nationalistic, and his brand of nationalism includes anyone that speaks Russian for certain, and probably any pocket of people with substantial Russian genetics. He’s assessed the breakup of the Soviet Union to be perhaps the greatest failure or disaster (can’t remember his exact term) of the 20th century. Some interpret that to mean he’d like to go back to the days of trying to finally achieve Soviet world domination. I’m not so certain that’s the case, though I don’t think he’d throw away the opportunity if it presented itself somehow, since the end result would be what I think is his primary motivation: securing Russian interests/territory/populations in a large portion of his part of the world. His obvious willingness to simply invade Crimea and eastern Ukraine clearly indicate his disregard for international norms.

The United States? Oh, you won’t get a lot of argument out of me on that one. I’m one of those kooks that actually thought Ron Paul made sense with his arguments about how we (though we didn’t “deserve” it), should not have been surprised by it. One of my prized books is the full version of Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley. It’s no wonder that Macmillan refused to reprint it even though sales took off after right-wingers discovered what was in it. For example, almost no one today knows that General Schwarzkoph’s father was instrumental in the overthrow of an elected government in Iran in the 50s, working directly for the CIA. All we heard about Schwarzkoph Senior’s background was that he was head of the NJ State Police, and was involved in the LIndbergh baby kidnapping case. We never heard about his extensive assistance in overthrowing a legitimate foreign nation’s government, the installation of a brutal dictator (the Shah), and the training of the Shah’s “police” force. And that’s just one example. I’m plenty old enough to remember the alleged Tonkin Gulf incident, and a whole undeclared war based on “the domino theory.” Etc., etc., etc. (with a tip of the hat to Yul Brenner). So no, you’ll get no argument from me there at all.

That doesn’t change the fact that Putin is a threat, and not to be trusted. Anybody that would cut off gas to portions of Europe and freeze populations is not, by definition, a nice man. And polonium? Equally not nice stuff. IF someone was to sit down and talk with Putin, it would have to be someone with the nerve Kennedy had on the final day of the Cuban missile crisis – someone willing to stare Putin in the eyes and not blink, while “offering” a deal he could not refuse. Certainly Obama isn’t even remotely close to being able to do that, nor does he want to. But I also don’t see that in almost any of the current crop of Republican candidates. Most have already proven by their records in Congress that they will cave in for any number of reasons – particularly the green stuff (the more money, the quicker the cave in, and the more complete the reversal in position).

I have to ask myself what Putin’s motive is in Syria, and despite various theories, I’m certainly not comfortable that I really know. One thing’s for certain, he’s certainly committing significant resources there (despite a domestic budget problem, particularly exacerbated by the plunge in oil prices). He’s building an air base in Syria, sending significant hardware (including things that are clearly designed to target US/NATO aircraft and other assets), etc. Is Assad a nice guy either? Certainly not. But toppling him right now would prove that we learned nothing from Libya and Ghadaffi. Still, ol’ Vlad is not our friend, and for that reason, I truly did like Fiorina’s stand. She never said she’d attack – she simply said that she wouldn’t say a word to Putin. If she threatened, he’d test her. If she immediately beefed up forces as she outlined, without saying a word, she’d be sending a much stronger message. Would he still test her? Probably, at least in very limited ways. But I suspect he’d respect her infinitely more than his buddy in D.C. currently (“Please tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election….”). Frankly, I have no desire to go to war with Putin, and would be more than pleased to back significantly out of that region of the world – as long as he did the same on this side of the pond.

We can’t save the world, and we’re not the only ones with responsibility to assist the needy and downtrodden of the world. If others won’t do it, so be it. Let other regions take their own consequences. Do we “owe” western Europe some degree of cooperation (i.e. NATO)? Yes, but only if it’s met with equal cooperation on their parts. I’ll take Ron Paul’s positions any day over most anything I hear out of the majority of the current crop of candidates. If Fiorina turns out to be a major hawk, I’d back off immediately.