Mariner often has made the argument that older politicians cannot properly interpret the broad picture of a world in which they did not grow up. It occurs to mariner that Vladimir Putin is a classic example.  Putin is seventy years old.  He grew up in the cold war years, was an intelligence officer and was stationed in an office in sight of the Berlin Wall when it fell.

He briefly served as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and secretary of the Security Council, before being appointed as prime minister in August 1999. After the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became acting president and, less than four months later, was elected outright to his first term as president.

It is Putin who spearheaded the war against Georgia and the takeover of Crimea. Putin obviously understands the power of old fashioned war as a political force. It is Putin who developed his understanding of Russian myth during its expansionist years after World War II when Russia acquired much of Eastern Europe.

Putin perceives Russia as a dominant force in today’s European reality when, in fact, because of the nation’s tsarist history, has never been a politically dominant nation except as a player in the Paris Peace Conference that ended the war.

In today’s world, large nations understand the cost of an old fashioned bullet war and have moved on to sophisticated economic machinations including the power of computer-driven conflict. Major influences in whether there is a bullet war are organizations like the G7, G20 and the World Monetary Fund – economic organizations with powerful economic influence in international monetary affairs. In short, bullet wars are too destructive, too expensive and do not serve as resolution to a competitive situation.

But Putin grew up in the era of bullet wars; his judgment is warped by his intrinsic values. Even if he intellectually understood the supply chain battles going on between China and the United States, he would feel no satisfaction in such a conflict.

In the US today, mariner carries anxiety that too many important politicians are even older than Putin. While bullet wars aren’t the primary concern, it is an interpretation of last-century capitalism that has too much sway in a century where there are not enough resources for gunslinger capitalism.

Land is disappearing. Water is disappearing. 300 million people may not leave room for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for everyone. Tax policy does not speak to modern technical opportunities or a growing imbalance between rich and poor.

The leaders in the US government who still espouse unbridled capitalism are, for the most part, older than Vladimir Putin.

Ancient Mariner


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