US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. America Isn't a Corporation (New York Times)

What's with the notion that this country needs a successful businessman as president? Making good economic policy isn't at all like maximizing corporate profits, Paul Krugman writes.

2. Afghanistan's future (Los Angeles Times)

With a stalemate in the war, the surest road to peace and stability is through talks with the Taliban, this editorial argues.

3. Obama's damaging blow to our military (Washington Post)

Howard P. "Buck" McKeon argues smaller isn't necessarily smarter.

4. The strategy behind political ads (Politico)

The spots provide clues about a campaign's polling, fundraising and focus-grouping, write Ken Goldstein and Elizabeth Wilner.

5. Contempt for the Constitution (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Justice invents a legal rationale for Obama appointments, according to this review.

6. Big outreach on campus (Boston Globe) ($)

College student's suicide prompts broader discussion of mental health, Joan Wickersham writes.

7. Santorum and the mythic power of the zealots (Chicago Tribune)

The GOP candidate is a man enthralled with mythic power -- and it's making him speak in tongues, Meghan Daum discusses.

8. Supreme Court got it right on church hiring (Los Angeles Times)

The justices backed religious autonomy without approving in advance any assertion of the "ministerial exception" this editorial writes.

9. Defining a safer clean-energy future (Denver Post)

Mike Chiropolos writes that Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added more than 150 new words last year. Not included on the list were "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking," but it seems likely they'll be added in 2012.

10. Obama family values (Salon)

The First Couple works hard to raise their children and keep their marriage strong -- but people are still outraged, Joan Walsh writes.

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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.