In Washington, the Bush administration -- G.H.W.’s, not G.W.’s -- declared victory and then left the much ballyhooed “peace dividend” in the nearest ditch. Caught off guard by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington’s consensus policymakers drew no meaningful lessons from it (just as they had drawn few that mattered from their Vietnam defeat 16 years earlier).http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175261/
Quite the opposite, successive American administrations would blindly head down the very path that had led the Soviets to ruin. They would serially agree that, in a world without significant enemies, the key to U.S. global power still was the care and feeding of the American military and the military-industrial complex that went with it. As the years passed, that military would be sent ever more regularly into the far reaches of the planet to fight frontier wars, establish military bases, and finally impose a global Pax Americana on the planet.
The old USSR was a counterbalance to this country's military actions. Though the cold war was not really cold, it forced the beheamouth to tread carfully, to focus on what it considered to be tactical area's, or hot spots they needed to control.
With the fall of the USSR, it wa like a lid being removed from pandora's box with hell being unleashed across the globe.
This article is a great summery of what has hapend since the fall.