Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's newspapers.

1. David Cameron needs to understand the state before he can cut the deficit (Guardian)

Cameron is right: Britain's deficit must be tackled. But his failure to fully comprehend the public sector could prove costly, warns Simon Jenkins.

2. Britain should be defending European justice, not attacking it (Independent)

It is unfortunate that the issue of prisoners' votes has been used as a springboard for attack, writes Nicolas Bratza.

3. Enough tinkering. Only a revolution will do (Times) (£)

Remodelling global capitalism is the big idea of 2012. But, asks Anatole Kaletsky, is the world brave enough to make the changes needed?

4. It's not too late to save the NHS from the barbarians (Guardian)

To the Tories, health is a huge untapped business opportunity - but the backlash could still derail their privatisation bill, says Seumas Milne.

5. A blueprint for Germany to save the eurozone (Financial Times)

Robert Zoellick believes that Berlin should issue a revival plan for Europe.

6. Armenian questions (Daily Telegraph)

According to this leading article, Turkey is being over-sensitive about France's Armenian genocide ruling.

7. State of the union: President Obama addresses inequality (Guardian)

The president can thank Occupy for making his new economic populism possible. Gary Younge asks: will it be enough, come November?

8. We've been here before - and it suits Israel that we never forget 'Nuclear Iran' (Independent)

The Ayatollah ordered the entire nuclear project to be closed down because it was the work of the devil, Robert Fisk points out.

9. Memo to Mitt (Financial Times)

Lloyd Green suggests how Romney could defeat Newt and win the White House.

10. William Barnes - England's Rabbie Burns (Guardian)

As Scotland celebrates Rabbie Burns we should remember England's own poet with a cause, writes Paul Kingsnorth.

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.