>direct military conflict with Russia, and now that possibility has basically vanished.
Sorry, I'll call bs on that too. Neither Putin, nor even an aggressively anti-Putin US President would go all out with in a Russia-USA war. The stakes just aren't there. Russia is angling for respect and Putin needs to have external enemies for political reasons. But Russia is not in a credible position to take over the world unlike USSR 1950-89. So neither party has anything to win or defend by Armageddon. All the Hillary-bashing in the world won't change that.
Contrast that with China. Relative power transition points (remember the German High Seas fleet 1914) have a way to upset stability. The up and coming think they can take over. The dwindling party think they should take action now, before it's too late. Wars are started when folks calculate they can win. Russia can't but China will eventually get to the point where they'll surpass the US. 20 yrs? 30 yrs?
Appeasement with China isn't the way. A peaceful transition, where each party agrees to peaceful coexistence is our best way forward. With diplomatic reminders to China that they have much to lose if they ramp up confrontation. Building regional consensus. China's is not a messianic political ideology like the Soviets', it might work. Tricky though.
That's our biggest challenge over the next 20 yrs.
And guess which US President is going to be in charge for a while? A man with an even temperament, well known for getting along with China, a man keen on international alliances, with clear and stable principles, trusted by other liberal democracies and newly industrializing nations. Popular at home, so China can't game his support. Ready to collaborate on matters of mutual interest like global warming. Internationalist.
But, yeah, go on believing that chumming w Putin matters more.