For the Weekend: Stephen Vincent Benet: The Devil and Daniel Webster XI

Should-Read: Edward Luce: The House of Trump and the House of Saud: "Mr Trump’s $110bn triumph was as close as you come to a 'fake deal'...

...But the Saudis gave Mr Trump what he wanted: an eye-poppingly tweetable shopping list; cash for his daughter’s initiative; a gold carpet welcome; and the mutual goal of erasing Barack Obama’s legacy. Mr Trump is now repaying the Saudis with interest.... Crown Prince Mohammed... launched a power grab.... Mr Trump tweeted that the crown prince and his father “know what they are doing”.... The purge followed a visit to Saudi Arabia last month by Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law, who stayed up half the night discussing strategy with the crown prince.... It is unclear if Mr Trump is aware of what he has unleashed—or cares either way. But his support for MbS betrays two principles of US foreign policy. The first is to stoke a religious war. Mr Trump’s America is now firmly on the Sunni side of the regional Sunni-Shia conflict.... Mr Trump’s US is uninterested in Middle Eastern stability.

The second is to give succour to pluto-populist strongmen. Few more richly deserve a corruption inquiry than the Saudi royal family. Yet the crown prince’s pretext has no more credence than Mr Xi’s equivalent drive in China—or indeed Mr Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” in Washington. These are feints to win populist applause while tarnishing rivals. What each shares is a yen to personalise power.... It is worth noting what Mr Trump did on his way to Asia — his most important trip as president.... He stopped off at the Trump Hotel in Hawaii, which is “tremendously successful”, the White House spokesperson pointed out. It showed a president who cannot tell the difference between the national interest and his family business. It was the kind of self-dealing you would expect from a Saudi royal. But I repeat myself.