No country shares Washington’s worldview quite the way Britain does, they say; it has long been the United States’ most willing security ally, most effective intelligence partner and greatest enthusiast of the free-trade mantras that have been a keystone of America’s internationalist approach. And few nations were as willing to put a thumb as firmly on the scales of European debates in ways that benefit the United States.
We are used to thinking of ourselves as a major player -- the major player -- in world politics. That position (if, in fact, real) has been sinking during the past several years, and certainly since the invasion of Iraq. The Snowden revelations infuriated many world leaders. The US, cavalier and self-serving, has been untrustworthy and disrespectful with its allies. Britain's withdrawal from a major coalition reminds us of the extent to which we have depended on British intelligence and diplomacy to keep us in touch, if not exactly best friends, with the real world.