To say that U.S. foreign policy is delusional is not an exaggeration. It seeks political hegemony and a relationship with China and Russia akin to what it has had with Japan and Germany. That is: go ahead and develop in the economic sphere, but don't try to flex political or military muscle.
There are at least two problems with this scenario: China is now the world's largest economy on a purchasing power parity basis, and the Russians have the nuclear capacity to make a wasteland out of the United States. Russian weapons systems can also be superior.
Take the S-400 in comparison with the US Patriot missile defense system: the purpose of these surface-to-air systems is to shoot down incoming missiles or aircraft. The S-400 has a more powerful radar; double the range; is faster (Mach 6 vs Mach 5); takes five minutes to set up against one hour for the Patriot, and is cheaper.
China has just bought 32 launchers and is expected to buy more, thereby challenging Japan, Taiwan (which it claims) and other neighbors for control of the skies, as it is doing over the seas that border it. NATO member Turkey has recently signed a purchase deal, and Iran wants to, as does Qatar after its recent spat with Saudi Arabia. If Russia supplies Iran, any attack planned by the United States or Israel would prove to be very costly and politically infeasible.
In our world of instant and continuous news feeds, one can imagine a bemused Vladimir Putin listening to Trump exhorting NATO members to increase contributions to NATO – an organization designed to counter the Russian threat – specifically castigating Germany's Angela Merkel for being beholden to Russia with her country's reliance on Russian natural gas.
Early next week Trump meets Putin in Helsinki, fresh from his soft power World Cup triumph as the world beat a path to Russia. What does Trump tell the leader of the world's largest country covering 11 time zones? U.S. political hegemony is a non-starter.
Europeans clearly want access to China, its labor, its markets, even finance. With that comes Russia and their numerous initiatives together, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIE) – their answer to the U.S.-sponsored World Bank. That Britain joined AIIB contrary to U.S. wishes is a clear sign of China rising as the United States declines comparatively; Britain, having faced up to the United States, was followed by a rush of European countries.
Russia wants sanctions lifted. What does the United States want? Crimea is a non-starter. Help with Iran? For the Russians, it has become an important ally both with regard to Syria and as a Middle Eastern power in its own right. Trump's instincts are right, but what he achieves is another matter. Childish petulance accompanied by a different story for different leaders would leave an observer with little optimism.
Meanwhile, Trump manufactures and markets his own reality; this time on his popularity ("I think they like me a lot in the U.K."), despite avoiding roads and traveling by helicopter whenever possible during his pared-down UK visit. Hordes of demonstrators, undeterred, had a giant parade balloon several stories high of a bloated child with the trademark blonde hair. It is one the largest demonstrations ever outside the United States against a sitting president.