TOMORROW Donald J Trump, 45th president of the US, will deliver the annual State of the Union address to Congress and the nation. Precisely a year into his presidency, this speech will give us a clue to where he intends to take America – and with it, the rest of the globe. Verbose as ever, we can expect Trump’s address to be longer than the first such, George Washington’s terse 1000 words of 1790. However, I’d hazard it will be a lot shorter than Bill Clinton’s effort of 1995, which lasted one hour and 25 minutes. Trump is usually long on self-congratulation but short on strategic direction.

Aficionados of The West Wing (still the best ever political drama on TV) will remember that writing the text of the State of the Union speech is the battleground on which warring members of each presidential team fight to have their ideas included, in the desperate hope this will bind the president to supporting and implementing their policy positions. Doubtless, this traditional activity is occupying the West Wing as I write. But in 2018, it will prove even less effective than usual. For we are dealing with a president who has the attention span of the proverbial gnat. And who is happy to contradict his own cabinet members (and himself) with a single, midnight tweet.

Nevertheless, after 12 months there is accumulating evidence that there is method in Trump’s “whim of iron” approach to political decision-making. He is perfectly correct to point to the fact that, a year into his presidency, the main US stock market index (covering largely exporting firms) is up by a third, while the broader S&P 500 (representing largely domestic businesses) is up a quarter in value. Which means most American companies and millionaires are richer thanks to Trump’s tax cuts and massive deregulation. By the way, this is the best stock market performance during the first year of a presidency since Franklin Delano Roosevelt back in 1933.

Of course, no president can create an economic boom in just 12 months. The US economy was powering up long before The Donald got to Washington, thanks to the Federal Reserve printing dollars (quadrupling its balance sheet in the process), a massive reduction in real wages, and Barack Obama’s discrete (but energetic) increase in defence spending. Trump is happy to bad-mouth Obama but he is reaping the economic and political rewards of his predecessor’s centrist and (sadly) very conventional, pro-business policies. What The Donald has added is his insistence that the White House will demolish every regulatory or tax hurdle that stands in the way of making a fast buck.

Trump has also lucked out when it comes to the exchange rate. In recent years, the dollar soared in value against other currencies, making US exports dearer. This was because the EU and Japan artificially cheapened their currencies to boost exports. The same depreciation happened in the UK, though as the result of a post-Brexit referendum sell-off of the pound. But in the past year, the dollar has started dropping, helping American exporters.

The Trump administration has taken a deliberate policy initiative to talk down the value of the dollar – it’s already dropped circa 15 per cent since he took office. This is a gamble. Knocking 15 per cent or more off the dollar means that Chinese and foreign holdings of US debt have lost considerable value. That could make it more difficult in the future for the US Government to borrow from abroad. America’s total national debt is up 2.7 per cent under Trump, to a whopping $20.5 trillion. It will go higher as a result of the president’s reckless tax cuts. But foreign governments, led by China, hold around 43 per cent of that debt. Beijing is not happy at having its savings eroded. Which means China will work harder to replace the dollar with its own yuan, as the world’s main reserve currency, ie the one used to facilitate world trade and investment.

ALL of which suggests that the US and China are on a collision course, economically and politically. Not that China’s state capitalism is any less self-centred than Trump’s “America First” policy. President Xi Jinping is busy erecting a giant protectionist wall as his country transitions to an economy powered by domestic consumption – China charges tariffs of 25 per cent on imported cars. (NB: Britain’s chances of doing a mutually beneficial free trade deal with Beijing are precisely zero.)

When it comes to military policy, the Trump administration has just published a new security review. Surprisingly, this was written and published in record time and with minimum fuss. Or perhaps this is not so surprisingly given The Donald has effectively militarised much of the important parts of the Federal government. In my youth, at the time of the lost Vietnam War and its aftermath, the status of the US military elite reached a nadir. But in the last couple of decades, the Pentagon and its generals and admirals have re-emerged as the one bit of the US governing elite with any popularity and prestige. That is dangerous for democracy at any time but under a neophyte, populist president it spells catastrophe.

Trump’s chief of staff, defence secretary and national security advisor are all ex-generals. Theoretically, they are the adults in the room when their commander throws a tizzy. But they are war-fighting generals and it seems more likely they will counsel attack rather than diplomacy, when a crisis looms. The new Trump security document is classic Cold War stuff citing Russia and China as “rival powers” to America. The paper may be written in less bombastic language than we have come to expect from The Donald, but don’t be fooled. The Pentagon has captured undue influence in the Trump administration. Already, the share price of US defence contractors has led the stock market rally. In September, the Senate passed a $700 billion military budget that exceeded even what Trump had requested.

The hidden importance of the rise of military influence inside the Trump administration is that the President’s demagogy and rabid populism is wrecking the Republican Party as an institution. Paradoxically, many serious conservatives on the American right, such as Bill Kristol, hate Trump. They see his attacks on the Republican party establishment as undermining any long-term project to secure a permanent conservative majority.

While the Republicans still look like holding their congressional majority in this November’s mid-term elections, and while Trump remains front-runner for the 2020 presidential contest, it is not clear in what condition he will leave the Republican machine. With suggestions that Oprah Winfrey might want to run against Trump, American institutional politics is fragmenting. In such circumstances, beware the generals.

Meanwhile, Trump’s second year in office looks like bringing his much-delayed a visit to the UK. Let’s start now to organise his (un)welcome. Let’s ensure he can’t set foot anywhere in the British Isles without mass protests – against his racism, war-mongering and sexism.

Here in Scotland, we need to create a Trump reception committee straight away to mobilise local support. We need to put one million protesters on to the streets of London, if The Donald tries to show his face.