Impeaching President Trump is all well and good. He brought it on himself with his repeated extralegal arrogance. But Trump’s departure, either by impeachment or election, will leave us snarling face-to-face with Russia and China. What is bad will get worse.

With Trump, there’s no disputin’ Putin. Trump owes him and promised to roll back sanctions, but Congress refuses. Putin’s leverage on Trump — money, women or electoral cybermanipulation — ends when Trump leaves office, which will probably be January 20, 2021. With Trump out of the equation, U.S.-Russian hostility, which Trump tries to ignore, will resume unrestrained.

Trump withheld $391 million of congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, ostensibly to fight corruption there but actually to get dirt on Biden. (Kiev could respond by publicly distributing a full, accurate report and plead: “Can we have the aid now?”) But what happens when U.S. Javelin missiles knock out Russian tanks and Ukraine starts retaking its eastern provinces? Escalation, now held in check, will take hold.

The Javelin is an effective 50-pound shoulder-fired, heat-seeking tank killer with a range of over a mile and a half. One round costs several thousand dollars, and the Javelin requires at least two weeks of training for American infantrymen. It marks a big step up in U.S.-supplied lethality and could be as big a game changer as the Stinger anti-aircraft missile was in Afghanistan in 1986. Stingers downed Soviet helicopters — their best weapon — forcing them to keep well away. Russia lost. In 1989, Gorbachev withdrew from Afghanistan. That same year, Russia lost East Europe. How will Putin react to Javelins in Ukraine?

American trainers, advisors and technicians are already part of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. That’s the only way to make sure things work. But what happens when Russian soldiers shoot at them? They shoot back, of course. The arrival of U.S. Javelins in Ukraine may incentivize Putin to quickly push westward, deeper into Ukraine. Then what do we do? A president unbeholden to Putin will be ready to confront him. Will Putin back down?

It is dimly possible that Trump administration strategy is to split Russia from China by differential pressure — soft on Russia but hard on China. That might be rational policy, but Trump shows no interest or smarts in geostrategy — consider his treatment of Ukraine and the Kurds — and Trump officials and pro-Trump scholars (not many of those) articulate no such strategy. At any rate, Russia and China draw ever closer until they are effectively anti-U.S. allies.

China paraded nationalistic resentment in celebrating the 70th anniversary of Communist rule and steadily increases coercion in Hong Kong. Units of the People’s Armed Police, a branch of its military, are inside Hong Kong. Xi Jinping has little choice; allowing the Hong Kong democracy movement to survive could weaken his control over provincial, military and security elites. China is not as stable as it seems, and Moscow’s surprise ousters — Khrushchev in 1964, Gorbachev in 1991 — haunt Xi.

Trump takes no firm, values-based stand on Hong Kong. He does not care about freedom and democracy there (or anywhere else). He wants to sell China more soybeans, a deal China could take — if basketball doesn’t get in the way. Will the next president aid Hong Kong democracy?

Britain’s 1997 handover was based on keeping Hong Kong a “special administrative region” practicing “one country, two systems” for 50 years. This was in part to entice Taiwan to return to China under the same formula. Not a chance. Beijing, we now realize, never intended to wait 50 years. The honeymoon of a few years was to make Hong Kongers feel Chinese. For example, the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympics were held in Hong Kong. See, we’re one country.

When Xi Jinping took over in 2012, if not before, Beijing began tightening the vise on Hong Kong. The small, rigged electorate for the Legislative Council was not expanded. Restrictions on information and security were slipped in. Previously acquiescent Hong Kongers, particularly young people, grew hostile to having to live under a tyranny. Their massive yellow-umbrella protest erupted in 2014 and grew into today’s angry violence.

The big weakness in U.S. policy in both Ukraine and Hong Kong is our inability to define our national interest. Trump’s “America First” offers little practical guidance. What does it have to say about China reaching across the Pacific to quash a basketball manager’s tweet supporting Hong Kong freedoms? Or Trump turning Kurds over to Turkey?

After Trump, we will have to do some major rethinking. Trump has pushed us into weakness and allowed power vacuums to develop, which Russia and China eagerly fill, the former in the Middle East, the latter along its Belt and Road Initiative. How much further do we want them to expand? Do current policies of absence and withdrawal preserve or endanger peace?