The US has been regarded as the West's leader since WW II. The US led with the objective of international cooperation to achieve orderly growth and prosperity for the countries led by the US.
Now suppose you have a football team, and the quarterback comes out and says, "Quarterback is First!" and scolds members of his team, and insults one of his team-mates and sends him to the bench in disgrace. How long is that team going to hold together? Not very long, I would say.
The deeper fact is that the status of the US as the world's leader, since the end of WW II, has ended and is finished. Mr. Trump's own plan to "Make America Great Again" is sending, by his own admission, a silent message: "America is no longer great."
If the US does actually clamp down on imports, as Mr. Trump envisions, and begins to hide behind economic protectionism through taxes on imports in true "developing world" fashion, then the US will be blocking the spring from which the rest of the world has been getting its dollars; there will be a scarcity of dollars in the rest of the world and that will mean world deflation with all its consequences: a rash of bankruptcies around the world for lack of dollars to service debt.
The US simply cannot have it both ways: it cannot issue the world's money, and indulge in economic protectionism. If the US goes for economic protectionism, then US dollar will, sooner or later, cease to be the world's money as steps are taken to replace the dollar.
In human affairs, when one leader is gone, it is not long before another leader takes over.
As the US passes from the scene as the world's leading country, who will inherit the throne of world leadership?
With the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte's combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805, Britain obtained mastery of the world's oceans and of world trade for the next century and more. Later, with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, world leadership settled on Great Britain.
With the 1945 defeat of the Axis armies in WW II by the combined forces of Great Britain and the US, world leadership passed from Great Britain to the US.
As 72 years of world leadership on the part of the US fade into history, who will take over world leadership? I suggest it will be Eurasia: Europe, Russia and China in economic cooperation.
Will the transfer of leadership take place peacefully, or will it require a WW III?
I do not think that anyone in the US wants a nuclear war with Russia and China. However, a great economic interest group in the US - the Military/Industrial/ Congressional Complex (as President Eisenhower initially identified this political machine) - lives on a gigantic yearly flow of funds from the US Government budget, and this flow depends on the perceived threat of an enemy for its existence. "No enemy" would mean no hundreds of billions of dollars a year for the coffers of this vast interest group.
This is why Mr. Trump's initial proposal to establish better relations with Russia has been scrapped: the Military/Industrial/Congressional Complex has a vested interest in having Russia as an enemy.
The great danger for the US is that while no single American or group of Americans may actually want a nuclear war with Russia and China, some small accident may rapidly scale into outright world war.
In the past, Russia suffered the loss of tens of millions of its population because it patiently waited for its enemy to attack. Russia learned a very painful lesson by being patient. If war appears to be the definite plan on the part of the US, it is possible that Russia may strike the US first.
This is where we are today.