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Polywar and Polyamorous Geopolitics

US President Joe Biden's largely successful response to Russia's war against Ukraine reflects his vision of the world as a bloc of democracies facing off against revisionist autocracies. But there is growing evidence that this is a minority view, even among some of America's closest allies.

WASHINGTON, DC – Far from merely shaking up the politics of the Middle East, Hamas’s attack on Israel, together with Russia’s war in Ukraine, is pushing the world further toward multipolarity.

Having traveled to Washington for the opening of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ new program in the United States, I spent much of last week doing two things: talking to White House, Defense, and State Department officials about the state of the world; and poring over the results of ECFR’s latest global public opinion poll. What struck me most is that, despite America’s success in uniting allies against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s encroachments in the Indo-Pacific, US officials remain deeply uncertain about the evolving international situation.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, President Joe Biden was quick to denounce it as an assault on the international rules-based order. He took pains to mobilize the world’s democracies against revisionist autocracies, and his administration is now justifiably proud of the progress made toward building new ties between its Atlantic allies and those in the Indo-Pacific.