When I began planning this weekend’s post, I thought we’d re-examine what I’d expected would have been the biggest news of last week: the unsurprising, unconvincing, uncontested win by Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential race last Sunday.

I should have known better.

Earlier in the week, I penned a somewhat cheeky, fake memo from the “Director of State Strategic Planning, Russian Federation” to “President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin” on the subject of “A Strategy for Our Beloved Motherland Party.” In that fake memo, I provided fake advice to the, some-might-say – given last weekend’s sham elections – “fake president” of Russia. The memo laid out imagined next steps of a strategy for Russia that included encouragement for continued efforts to take steps to weaken the United States, destroy the NATO alliance, consolidate the near abroad, and discipline the unruly. It also laid out questions for President Putin as to how he might tackle some other very real challenges facing the country such as reconstruction costs in Syria and Crimea/eastern Ukraine, sanctions that are stalling the economy, energy sources, and the reputational issue of the Mueller investigation on Russia and its use of cybersecurity to interfere in international elections.

While the letter written for Bloomberg View on Monday was clearly tongue-in-cheek, the serious issues raised by the re-election of this authoritarian leader to another six years of rule are many. I discussed them on Wednesday morning with my friends at Morning Joe, but to recap quickly here, the call made by President Trump to President Putin congratulating the latter on his victory, despite – and contrary to! – the advice given by his national security team, and the overt failure to stand up for American values of democracy vis-à-vis the world stage, again betrays the trust and confidence of the American people. Not only that, but with each new diplomatic blunder, we’re chiseling away at the trust and confidence bestowed upon us by our allies – our most important asset, bar none. The diplomatic failures are stacking up here, but this was a tactical, unforced error that is just mind-bogglingly hard to understand.

Despite the Russian election outcomes and its impact deserving the moniker of “news of the week,” I should have known that with this White House, you can’t expect the news cycle to go more than a few days without a new (this time, metaphorical) bomb being dropped. And of course, there was. Before the week was out, Trump’s second national security advisor, my friend and an outstanding, upstanding military man, was ousted from his role in favor of a deeply troubling choice of the neo-conservative, ultra-hawkish John Bolton. I wrote about my personal relationship with, and understanding of the issues faced by, Lt. General H.R. McMaster in a piece for TIME magazine.

I also discussed what the impact of his removal from the cabinet may mean for our national security with Morning Joe; without a hint of exaggeration, I can say that with John Bolton unhindered in the driving seat and the U.S. facing incredibly delicate diplomatic situations in North Korea and Iran, as well as larger strategic issues with Russia and China…well, this is what I’d call “buckle-up time.”

The prospect for military intervention as a first-resort option on a number of fronts has just escalated significantly. Now, only time will tell whether cooler heads (what few we may have left in the cabinet!) will prevail.

And with that, as ever, thanks for reading and watching.

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