well, without knowing and understanding global economic and hegemonic theories, it is hard to explain. i used to spend entire courses teaching on these complex topics. so, no easy solutions explanations are possible. but let's try this folks....
keep in mind that following WWII the US built an series of global structures and processes to support itself and its allies politically (UN, world court), economically (World Bank, IMF, etc.), militarily (NATO, SEATO, CENTO, eventually military bases in over 130 countries), and educationally (fulbrights, student mobility, educating global intellectuals, blah....).
this network of systems benefited the rich nations (called the core countries) more often and more effectively than it did the poorer nations. (often referred to as the periphery) this was the intent and purpose of the system - to safeguard global inequality, which it has done rather well.
it resulted in nearly 70 years of the US being the overwhelming center of global growth and influence and a near total lack of war between major powers (ie. no WWIII). of course, war happened, but usually in the periphery, or, when the core exercised its military powers there. (US in latin america, vietnam, iraq, etc.)
the US has paid more and worked more to keep the system going (as trump often notes on who pays for military etc.) but since the US garners BY FAR the lion's share of the benefits, the benefits to the US far far outweigh the costs to it.
so, what trump is doing by undermining NATO, NAFTA, trade with europe, trade with China, limits on international students to the US, cutting of international education funds, etc. is to corrode and undermine the very complex international systems the US set up after WWII. it is making these systems less desirable to other powerful countries so they will start thinking how to do things WITHOUT the US. that is, the systems that created the current world order are being eroded and other countries will try to replace them with systems of their own, but mostly regionally and not globally. (germany will focus mostly on europe, brazil on LA, china on East Asia, etc.)
as with all change this massive, there will be an increase in political, military, economic, and social chaos and disorder throughout the world. BUT as this increases, the traditional ways of dealing with it (UN, IMF, NATO, etc.) will no longer exist/be diminished and therefore the disorder will be harder to contain.
end result? a more violent and disordered world with more violence, starvation, etc etc etc. and fewer solutions, especially at the global level
WHY? simple enough. trump has no idea how any of this works and he only surrounds himself with people of identical opinions and brain power. (remember tillison's famous "he's a ****ing moron" quip.) trump is a honest to goodness simpleton who does not and cannot grasp that economics are embedded in larger world system. he thinks that in world without these systems, the US will be better since it is stronger than anyone.
he fails to understand that much of US power is directly derived from this US created system.
whew... and China? it is simply one major brick being removed from the system. in the immediate future, the momentum of the systems and habits and remaining systems will carry the world forward. but within a decade, if this continues, the world will be facing fundamental changes, and very unpleasant ones.
TL;DR - trump is directly undermining a 70 year old international economic/political/military/educational system that served US interest more than any other country's interests. more benefits flowed to the US than anyone else in this system. without this system and the support of other rich countries, the US will face an increasing fragmented, disorganized, and chaotic world with increased economic instability and political and military violence.
it will become ever more difficult for the US to control events as its loses the allies it won from having this system.
TP ... I wish you could post more on this topic. Very illuminating. I studied Economics, and understand your theory. Do you believe the policies of this government plays into the hands of China. What is this leads to an alignment between China and Russia?
thanks for the kind words. the basic assumptions that underlie "hegemonic stability theory" (which is really a collection of approaches) do flow from modern economics.
as far as china is concerned, that government wishes to keep the current hegemonic system for the foreseeable future. they gain benefits from it and pay reduced costs, which is an essential element of the theory. why else would other countries join the US system?
next, Chinese leadership has no central tenent or philosophy or depth of collective good will upon which to lead the world. and they know it. they can not create an alternative to this hegemonic system. their number one concern is internal growth and they are willing to let another country run the hegemonic system. fine by them.
in another half century, that may change. but who the heck can precisely predict specific events that far out? after all, in the long run we are all dead.
next, underlying china's approach to the world is an absolute and fundamental premise, one that they will not alter and must be understood. they were colonized and humiliated by western nations and japan for almost two centuries. THE POINT OF BUILDING NATIONAL WEALTH AND POWER IS TO ENSURE THIS NEVER, EVER HAPPENS AGAIN. this is key. for china's leaders and maybe of their people, national economics are NOT about generation of wealth, especially personal wealth. national economics are about national power.
they will never back down when their national security is in play, economics included. on everything else, they can work with others as legitimate partners and they do have an interest in keeping the hegemonic system working. but it cannot endanger their country.
so, what trump is basically doing is anathema to the chinese leadership on two fronts.first
, the US is eroding the hegemonic system, which china wants to preserve. in the minds of chinese leaders, global leadership comes with global responsibilities. they get that and like that. order needs good leadership. a lack of good leadership means a lack of order. a lack of order means the hegemonic system will falter and not help them.
but now, in the eyes of chinese leadership, the US is abandoning the very system it created. that is, they are abandoning their obligations as the global leader of a global system. this is seen as poor leadership that cannot be trusted.second
, china has been, in their mind, singled out for practices that many other countries (japan, south korea, UK, even the US over 150 years ago) practiced. that is, many countries industrialized using the same basic market tactics, stealing of technology, etc. as china now does. yet, now the US punishes China as playing unfairly.
the term used for this is "kicking away the ladder." it means that western industrialized nations used a set of policies and practices that gave them the chance to climb up. and now these same countries kick away the very ladder they used so that others cannot use it.
this is seen as unfair by the Chinese, and they are not alone in thinking this. but they are singular in that they have the voice and will and ability to say "we disagree and will take action."
bullying by trump will directly do the opposite of what trumps says it will. the chinese will not back down. they will compromise, they will negotiate, but they will not be dictated to.
whew...again, overly simple, but this gives you a crude picture of things i hope.