US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Doctrine of Silence (New York Times)

On U.S. strategic policy, Obama has gone covert -- and made the right call. So why is Roger Cohen uneasy?

2. Moderates of both parties should unite (Chicago Tribune)

The deficit that should most worry us is a deficit of reasonableness, writes E. J. Dionne.

3. What Happened on the Border? (New York Times)

A transparent investigation of the NATO strikes with Pakistan's participation is essential, urges this editorial.

4. Wrong and righteous (Washington Post)

Obama has no room to complain about ad distortions, argues Michael Gerson.

5. Occupy L.A.: The eviction that wasn't (Los Angeles Times)

Carla Hall asks: did the LAPD's peaceful nonconfrontation bring the Occupy L.A. demonstration closer to a conclusion, or did it simply give the protesters more leverage?

6. With AIDS at 30, is daylight at the end of the tunnel? (Detroit Free Press)

This Thursday's commemoration of World AIDS Day marks a potential turning point in the fight against a global epidemic that has yet to be arrested, suggests this editorial.

7. Obama Abandons the Working Class (Wall Street Journal)

William McGurn believes there's an opening for Romney, if he's smart enough.

8. The (plastic) eyes have it (Boston Globe) ($)

The Muppet Movie' isn't a reboot for modern sensibilities, says Joanna Weiss, but instead is an effort to recapture something lost, and a nostalgia trip for Generation Xers.

9. School lunch guidelines lose to cooks in Congress (USA Today)

According to this editorial, politicians stood up for pizza and fries, and their friends in the frozen food industry, instead of kids.

10. Why can't Newt win? Because he's Newt (Denver Post)

"Gingrich has made a career of being a lying, adultering, money-chasing historian/non-lobbyist who wants to be president," writes Mike Littwin.

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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.