Last September 17, the United States unilaterally cancelled signed agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic to install a missile defense system on their territories. U.S. officials explained that the decision had nothing to do with placating Russia (which had threatened to install nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, aimed at Poland) but everything to do with technical issues. They offered instead a Patriot short-range missile defense system, to be manned by U.S. personnel.
We're now seeing two results of that policy:
-- a senior Russian official threatened that Russia would not permit the stationing of the Patriot system, complete with American personnel, on Polish soil.
-- the Polish and Swedish foreign ministers called for the withdrawal of both American and Russian tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.
Here's my guess as to how the United States will respond: First, it will pretend that no Russian threat exists; then it will find an excuse not to deploy the Patriot system. What's more, it will find nothing to criticize in the call for eliminating tactical nuclear weapons - after all, Obama wants a new universal ban on nuclear weapons.
The American public won't respond, because it'll be too distracted by some domestic issue, and our ties to countries like Poland, who so wanted to be our close allies, will fray and diminish.
Ain't it great not to be Number One any more, and to renounce our attempt to dominate other countries? Get used to it; there will be more debacles like this one.