From a U.S. perspective, Europe was always a bit of a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Decades ago, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger lamented that he had no single telephone number to call to deal with a continent that generates about a third of the world’s GDP.
With Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union, the U.S.’s challenge to maintain a functioning dialogue with Europe has grown much more difficult.
Barack Obama came to London this spring to urge Britain to remain in the European Union. British voters, for reasons entirely of their own making, rejected that advice. Now Britain’s protracted divorce proceedings from the 28-nation bloc, which could last two years or even longer, are likely to test America’s posture toward Europe at a decisive moment.
Not only is the face of Europe changing, but America’s is too. In less than five months, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will most likely lead the world’s largest economy and military superpower into a new relationship with Britain, and just as importantly, with the European Union and with Germany.