US press: pick of the papers

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

1. Iran is ready to talk (New York Times)

With Iran reeling from sanctions, the proper environment now exists for diplomacy to work, writes Dennis Ross.

2. The health care law in red and blue (Politico)

Many GOP congressional districts have much to gain as the new heath care coverage rolls out, say Larry Levitt, Drew Altman and Gary Claxton.

3. Containment won't work against Iran (Wall Street Journal)

It is becoming popular to invoke the Cold War, when the policy of containment managed to avoid all-out war with a nuclear Soviet Union. But the analogy fails on several grounds, writes Daniel Schwammenthal.

4. Rick Santorum's pincer movement (New York Times)

Santorum's advantage is that he can get to Romney's right and to his left at once, writes Ross Douthat.

5. Does the GOP care about Latino voters? (Washington Post)

When it comes to Latino voters, Republicans must have un impulso suicida, says Dana Milbank.

6. Just how much does Gingrich hate Romney? (Roll Call)

Stuart Rothenberg asks: Is Romeny's bitterness and animosity toward the former Massachusetts governor so deep that he is willing to put aside his personal ambitions and yield the spotlight, in which he clearly revels?

7. Polarization and the Independents (Weekly Standard)

The independent vote will be determinative in November, writes Jay Cost.

8. Drumming up a phony war on religion (Washington Post)

It is Rick Santorum who wins the award for histrionics. Progressives, he said last week in Texas, are "taking faith and crushing it," writes Eugene Robinson.

9. The limits of European solidarity (Wall Street Journal)

To avoid a complete breakdown, Brussels panjandrums must recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to Europe is no longer sustainable, say Naruab Tupy and Richard Sulik.

10. Obama can't have it both ways on taxes (Washington Examiner)

Raising taxes on any working American will hurt the economy for everybody, says this editorial.

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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.