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• The pandemic has highlighted numerous problems that will be constraining U.S. power in international relations. They include the expanding competition with China, soft power losses, economic challenges and growing contradictions in American society;
• The outcomes of the weakening of the U.S. and other major powers will not be chaos and disorganization, but growing internal instability, which may entail the emergence of new failed states, and the involvement of external forces in their breakdown;
• Three hypothetical scenarios look probable: a new cold war, a grand bargain and a return to soft containment. The latter seems most realistic;
• Each of these scenarios might carry costs for Eastern Europe, yet the soft containment one appears preferable.