Just when our government gets the great idea to cut the military, their pay and their benefits, and eliminate weapon systems that are proved to be less costly and more effective (for example the A-10 and U-2), Russian President Vladimir Putin once again reminds the mighty United States that is not using its strategic crystal ball with the accuracy that we Americans depend on.

In a nation where Republicans and Democrats rarely can agree on anything, we have fallen to a new low point where the president uses his executive power at will. He has unilaterally decided to delay his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and continues to use strategic reserves to artificially keep prices acceptable.

We have allowed our elected officials to continue the sequestration that penalizes and demoralizes the military, while the president, Congress and the media have continued to ignore the sequestration effects in order not to wake up sleeping American citizens.

Thank you Mr. Putin, for at least forcing the media to bring to the American citizens that we are no longer a country that can stop one country from militarily taking over another country.

Thank you Mr. Putin, for reminding the American citizen that the United States can no longer stand up with its European allies and make a strong statement of solidarity against a Russian aggressor. Europe has its own major economic problems. Europe’s global economic dependency and the need for Russian gas prevents this from happening. Europe and its treaties are no longer that powerful.

Think of Putin as a master card player who is always at the table but never plays the big hand but moves ever slowly, taking his time and growing stronger. His strategy is simple. He waits at the table until the time is right.

He has gained great internal power by pulling off a “successful” Olympics at Sochi. No one argues inside his country. His people are proud of a successful Olympics.

As a master of the game he has also quietly moved to take out his public adversaries while taking control of the press. He has never lost the power he held in the KGB, and “legitimately” gained the presidency back while restructuring his military to a more controllable arsenal.

Now he is the most powerful player at the table and is playing a high-stakes game.

Please wake up, America. Isn’t it enough that Putin has no respect for our country’s political and military leadership? The media have rightfully shown us that Putin is using the same strategies in the Ukraine that he used in the country of Georgia. Even the same Russian special operations soldiers.

Must we give him the Ukraine so he can move on to Poland or the Baltic states? We have obviously fallen to a place where there is no realistic threat of retribution. How can he be so arrogant?

Because Mr. Putin has been playing his cards close to his chest. He knows the American citizens are at the point where they no longer have the national will to maintain a strong military.

The president and some of our congressional leaders see this as a perfect time to push through a major cut in our military.

Please America, do not let this happen. Putin knows that he is the master player at the table and the leader of, perhaps, the world’s richest country. He continues to play his cards well, but he also has sent a message that should wake us up.

Thank you, Mr. Putin.

James H. Slagle is a retired Air Force colonel and former military assistant to the deputy assistant secretary for treaties and verification policy. During his career, which included more than 20 trips to the U.S.S.R. and Russia, he met with Putin when he was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg in 1994. Contact him at hawkjhs@aol.com