US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. This War Can Still Be Won (New York Times)

Fernando M. Lujan writes: "After I shared a thousand cups of tea with Afghans, it was clear to me that they have the will to win, with or without us."

2. Obama's tall tax tales (Washington Times)

Numbers do not compute in presidential push for yet higher taxes, says Emily Miller.

3. Syria on the cusp (Washington Post)

This editorial considers how the US can help a civil war being avoided in Syria.

4. 2 for 2, or 2 for 1? (New York Times)

The breakdown in the Middle East peace process really does have the US back at Square 1, says Thomas L. Friedman.

5. Writing off Greece (Chicago Tribune)

And the sooner European bankers admit Greece's economy is toast, the better for everybody -- including President Obama, says this editorial.

6. Expand the Use of Food Stamps? (New York Times)

An editorial debate poses the question: Should restrictions on using the benefits at fast food restaurants be loosened?

7. Selling our souls to Mark Zuckerberg (Chicago Times)

Shouldn't Mark Zuckerberg be paying us for providing all our information to Facebook? wonders this editorial.

8. The Real Solyndra Scandal (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Solar technology has a market niche. It doesn't need subsidies, says Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

9. Paul Ryan: A 'Time for Choosing' on Health Care (The Weekly Standard)

Who is in charge, asks Jeffrey H. Anderson -- the government or the patient?

10. R2P and the Libya mission (Los Angeles Times)

Simon Adams asks: When does 'responsibility to protect' grant countries the right to intervene?

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Donald Trump's inauguration signals the start of a new and more unstable era

A century in which the world's hegemonic power was a rational actor is about to give way to a more terrifying reality. 

For close to a century, the United States of America has been the world’s paramount superpower, one motivated by, for good and for bad, a rational and predictable series of motivations around its interests and a commitment to a rules-based global order, albeit one caveated by an awareness of the limits of enforcing that against other world powers.

We are now entering a period in which the world’s paramount superpower is neither led by a rational or predictable actor, has no commitment to a rules-based order, and to an extent it has any guiding principle, they are those set forward in Donald Trump’s inaugural: “we will follow two simple rules: hire American and buy American”, “from this day forth, it’s going to be America first, only America first”.

That means that the jousting between Trump and China will only intensify now that he is in office.  The possibility not only of a trade war, but of a hot war, between the two should not be ruled out.

We also have another signal – if it were needed – that he intends to turn a blind eye to the actions of autocrats around the world.

What does that mean for Brexit? It confirms that those who greeted the news that an US-UK trade deal is a “priority” for the incoming administration, including Theresa May, who described Britain as “front of the queue” for a deal with Trump’s America, should prepare themselves for disappointment.

For Europe in general, it confirms what should already been apparent: the nations of Europe are going to have be much, much more self-reliant in terms of their own security. That increases Britain’s leverage as far as the Brexit talks are concerned, in that Britain’s outsized defence spending will allow it acquire goodwill and trade favours in exchange for its role protecting the European Union’s Eastern border.

That might allow May a better deal out of Brexit than she might have got under Hillary Clinton. But there’s a reason why Trump has increased Britain’s heft as far as security and defence are concerned: it’s because his presidency ushers in an era in which we are all much, much less secure. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.