US miscalculations are now legion — but what to do now? By Ted Galen Carpenter

The U.S. government will not exit Ukraine, gracefully or otherwise, until it realizes that it is no longer the center of a unipolar world. From Ted Galen Carpenter at responsiblestatecraft.org:

Adaptation — to a multipolar world in which Washington doesn’t always call the shots — is the first step.

The Biden administration continues to misconstrue international realities with respect to U.S. policy toward Russia.

One common feature linking those multiple miscalculations is arrogance. U.S. officials cling to the assumptions of a bygone era when U.S. power and influence vastly eclipsed that of any other nation — or combination of nations. Washington enjoyed that status in the initial decades after World War II, when it faced only one credible adversary, the USSR. Moscow’s seemingly aggressive ambitions caused small and midsize powers outside the Soviet orbit to take cover behind Washington’s security shield and (with rare exceptions) defer to Washington’s wishes.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the United States enjoyed another period of diplomatic and strategic dominance — despite the world becoming increasingly multipolar economically. Indeed, in some respects, U.S. political and military dominance during the following decade was even greater than it had been during the immediate post-World War II period, since the United States didn’t have even the Soviet Union as a challenger.

The 1990s and first years of the twenty-first century epitomized what Charles Krauthammer called America’s “unipolar moment.”  President George H. W. Bush’s comment that “what we [the United States] say goes,” reflected the attitude that policymakers adopted. Subsequent U.S. administrations, though, failed to understand that it was a unipolar “moment,” not a permanent new era.

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