US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Mitt Keeps Missing the Message (Wall Street Journal)

If Romney wins Florida, it won't be because he's becoming a more effective candidate, claims Kimberley A. Strassel.

2. President Obama, winner of Florida debate? (Los Angeles Times)

If anyone won Thursday evening, it may have been Barack Obama, writes Doyle McManus.

3. The American defence strategy is flawed (Washington Post)

The US military needs to invest in troops, not technology, argues Frederick W. Kagan.

4. Jobs, jobs and cars (New York Times)

To really create jobs in the US, it takes a cluster, not just heroes, argues Paul Krugman.

5. For GOP, dislike for Obama trumps all (Politico)

Evangelical opposition to his faith could hurt Mitt Romney, claim Brett Benson, John G. Geer and Jennifer Merolla.

6. Don't Mind the Gap (New York Times)

Polls are finding that Americans seem less upset by the existence of income inequality than by the perception that federal policies unfairly favor the rich, writes to Andrew Kohut.

7. The American defence strategy is flawed (Washington Post)

The US military needs to invest in troops, not technology, argues Frederick W. Kagan.

8. The sound of saber-rattling against China (Boston Globe)

American consumers will pay the price for trade sanctions on China, says Edward Glaeser.

9. Sharia: The not-so-scary truth (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Sharia law sounds scary to lots of Americans. The irony is that many who think they are opposed to sharia would likely support many of its general precepts, says Jon Pahl.

10. 'Obamacare' shreds social safety net (Politico)

The well-being of program participants is being sacrificed to advance Obama's 2012 chances, says Frank Donatelli.

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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.