The coming to power in the US of Donald Trump marked a critical change in the goal-setting of American foreign policy. Most experts and politicians both in the States and outside of it still haven't realised this...
American Empire
Perhaps, and even most likely, Trump hasn't realised this either. It isn't excluded that even his support group - that part of the American establishment that brought him to power in order to break the disastrous globalist course associated with the Democratic Party and was almost completely privatised by the Clinton family - doesn't fully realise it. Many republicans, if not the majority of them, also supported this course, but the Republican Party preserved space for manoeuvre, albeit minimal in size, while the Democrats became a synonym of hegemonic globalism.

A new course is most often pursued unconsciously. For example, the most talented of Hitler's field marshals started to consciously fight for a stalemate in WW2 only in 1943 (after the Wehrmacht's Stalingrad catastrophe). Most of their colleagues, Hitler, and a considerable part of the German people believed in a victory almost up to May 1945. In reality, a stalemate was the limit of possibilities of Germany after its loss in the Battle of Moscow.

And it is the same thing now: most American politicians believe that they are fighting for a victory. Simply, Trump and Trumpists propose another (different from Clinton's) strategy of achieving this victory. Trump is also sure that he found a new way of preserving the US' global hegemony (if he doesn't believe but just pretends, then he is an ingenious actor). But in practice the US already lost the opportunity to preserve its hegemony, and thus now tries to lead matters to a stalemate.

This was implicitly recognised even by Hillary Clinton, who, being sure of her election as president, tried to blackmail Russia with an unlimited nuclear confrontation with the possibility of it turning into an uncontrollable hot conflict at any time.

Since the moment that an approximate parity of nuclear weapons in the early 70's, the nuclear doctrines of the USSR (Russia) and the US stipulated the use of nuclear weapons for dealing a full-scale blow only if the country was threatened by a strategic defeat in a conflict with the use of conventional weapons, or in a limited nuclear war with the dosed use of tactical nuclear weapons. There was also the idea of the first disarming strike, but for this purpose it was necessary to reach an absolute superiority in weapons that would guarantee the destruction of the enemy with minimal damage to one's own territory. Nobody has been able to reach such superiority to this very day.

Thus, the threat of a full-scale nuclear conflict being provoked that was sounded by a US presidential candidate (the recognised favourite in the race) testified that the US lost the strategic fight for hegemony using the usual methods and uses the last argument - nuclear blackmail. It isn't excluded that the stooping of globalists to nuclear blackmail indeed predetermined the transition of a critical part of the American elite to Trump's side.

The owners of specific material wealth never want to die for abstract ideas. Moreover, the more wealth there is, the less they are inclined to committing collective suicide on an ideological basis.

At the same time, I repeat, understanding the need to change one's strategy under the pressure of circumstances and accepting the fact that a forced strategy change is already recognition of the unattainability of the originally set goals are two different things. The necessity of the former is sometimes obvious even to a nonspecialist.

Concerning the latter, the more the person is engaged in the realisation of a failed strategy, the more difficult it is for them to recognise defeat. For example, many in the post-Soviet space still dream that after the hypothetical cancellation of the Belavezha Accords the Soviet Union will rise from the ashes like a phoenix during the same second. In this regard the situation is much worse for Americans, because the sources and structure of the income of their elite, their state, and their people are organised in such a way that they can't be preserved at the earlier level if there is a loss of global hegemony. I.e., the fear of the standard of living sharply falling and the loss of status, which most of all eats away at the souls of representatives of the ruling elite, is added to psychological frustration stemming from the need to admit defeat.

That's why Washington politicians will declare the need to return American hegemony in 2019 too. Russia and China in 2019, as well as now, will be named as the main targets of American military-political, diplomatic, and economic pressure. Washington will periodically make demonstrative scandals with Moscow and Beijing and frighten them by new sanctions packages, and will sometimes actually impose them.

But in reality the American policy in the Russian direction will aim to block Russian-European rapprochement and the strengthening of Moscow's position in the Middle East, and in the Chinese direction - deterring Chinese ambitions in Southeast Asia, which is limited to demonstrating its intention to keep the Chinese Naval Forces in the coastal seas (Yellow, East Chinese, and Southern Chinese). Moreover, the US won't dig its heels in, but will start to slowly retreat with serious political rearguard battles and periodic attempts to counterattack.

The center of Washington's efforts will be definitively switched to the European Union. The US will continue to speak about western solidarity, collective defence within the framework of NATO, etc., but the dismantlement of the EU will become its true purpose. Actually, this purpose is already on the agenda. Simply, next year it will become so obvious that it will be impossible to hide it any longer. Although, of course, not all European politicians, and not immediately, will believe in such "insidiousness".

At the same time, the US is interested in the destruction of Western Europe. Concerning the Eastern European limitrophes, here they would not only preserve a certain "cordon sanitaire" with pleasure, but they would also strengthen it. Ideally it would include all the Balkan countries (including all the republics of the former Yugoslavia, the Danube states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and the Baltics). However, the "minimum program" is more realistic: the Baltics, Poland, Romania, and also Ukraine - for the period of time time that it will still be able to independently hold on.

The limitrophes couldn't carry out the most important task assigned to them: dragging Russia into an open conflict with Europe (in which the US would stay "behind the scenes"). The Baltics and Poland were even not against it. They recognised that in the event of a full-scale war of the West against Russia it will gain a nuclear character sooner or later. At the same time, their territories will become a front-line zone - i.e., they will be spared of incinerating strikes. The possibility of their armies being liquidated and occupation didn't frighten them. They considered that the West will all the same win, and thus they will be liberated. But they wanted firm guarantees that they won't be left with Russia tête-à-tête. That's why the Baltics, the Poles, and the Romanians persistently demanded the deployment of extra groups of US and EU troops on their territories, which all the same couldn't protect them.

For them it was essential that after the very first provocation (which they were ready to organise at any time), the blood of American and/or Western European soldiers would surely be shed. In such a case, as they considered, the West couldn't evade from participating in the war. A mass of NATO troops was needed so that they couldn't be physically evacuated in time at the beginning of the conflict. The groupings that are currently deployed in these countries are obviously insufficient for this purpose (they can be evacuated in only a few hours), and the West isn't going to deploy any more of them (there have a lack of military-ready units and other resources, including financial ones). In these conditions Eastern Europe (pulled out of the EU and united into a certain regional bloc) must play the role of a little American stone in the Russian and Western European boot, and give the US a bridgehead for overall control of the situation and possible new military-political rollout in the future.

Concerning Western Europe (along the line Italy-Austria-Germany-Scandinavia), the US will seek to break its unity not just by provoking disagreements, but also by starting conflicts and confrontations between these countries (by the way, they also won't object to a Polish-German conflict - political, economic, or even military). The task is to destroy the all-European market and European industrial and technological cooperation.

In such an option (without a European alternative), until about one billion (and two billion is even better) buyers belonging to the middle class will appear in the markets of Russia, China, and Southeast Asia, the Chinese economy will critically depend on the American sales market, and thus the Russian-Chinese alliance will have limited opportunities to counter the US. I.e., having not won or lost, Washington will receive the opportunity to postpone the end of the game for an indefinite period of time.

Thus, in 2019 the US' actions will be focused on destroying the EU, fragmenting members of its Western European part and pitting them against each other, forming from the maximum number of Eastern European states a pro-American "cordon sanitaire" between Russia and Western Europe, inciting conflicts along the Russian borders (not "colour revolutions", but cruel and bloody civil and internecine wars over disputed territories) that aim to block Russia and tie down its resources. For the US it is critically important in the next two-three years to not allow Russia to cement its place in the Middle East and in the Balkans, which is why they will try to force Moscow to be engaged in peacemaking in Ukraine, in Central Asia, and in Transcaucasia (who will fight against who and over what isn't important for Washington).

The military-political deterrence of China will carry a demonstrative, but ineffective character of campaigns of combat ships and squadrons towards the Chinese coast for the purpose of flying the flag. The US will focus its main efforts on financially-economically deterring, smearing, and, ideally, destroying the Chinese economy.

You might tell me that the predicted behaviour of the US is too aggressive for a "fight for a stalemate". But remember that, "fighting for a stalemate", Germany on the Eastern front alone organised a strategic offensive on Stalingrad and the Caucasus in 1942 and carried out an attempt to carry out a strategic offensive on the Kursk arc in 1943. The main sign that the US can't battle for a victory any more is the exhaustion of its resources to such an extent that, contrary to the rules of strategy, which demand to not multiply the number of enemies but to attract more allies, they transfer their closest partners to the camp of enemies, trying to obtain uncontrolled access to their resources in order to throw them into the furnace of the fight for hegemony.

Without having won the competition, relying on the resource base of the whole world, they especially won't win it now, when the world gradually turns away from them. However, they are still capable of sufficiently destroying the resource base of the former Pax Americana so that Russia and China think not about a final victory, but about the stabilisation of chaos on earth that was scorched during the American geopolitical retreat and the preservation of their economies (at least in a contracted state) in the context of the liquidation of world trade and the global market.

Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard