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Robert D. Kaplan

Biden’s Team Saved Ukraine by Learning From Its Mistakes

The fight against Russia should be over keeping a rules-based international order, not a crusade against autocracy. 

Dealing democracy.

Dealing democracy.

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  

Much can still go wrong with the Ukraine war, but so far, President Joe Biden’s defense and national security teams have outperformed any administration since President George H.W. Bush, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell responded to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

With one significant caveat. Team Biden hasn’t learned one of the most important lessons of that earlier administration: The primary role for the US in foreign affairs is to maintain international rules and norms, not to lead a fight for global democracy.