Responding to the Crumbling Firmament #1

From TPM Reader AL

France is upset because it seems that Boris Johnson will be rewarded for his faithlessness by a Biden administration that turns out not to represent the return to sober, reliable allyship that France had expected. Instead it turns out that the international rifts signaled by Brexit and Trump are more permanent than they’d realized, as is the potential for Anglo-European conflict, an insight France gained in an instant — a coup de tonnerre. Of course they’re freaked.

Remember how Johnson campaigned for Brexit on the grounds that England would, among other things, be able to develop a deeper relationship with the United States if it left the EU and how Obama said, “I don’t think so”?

Well, it looks like Johnson was right. So much for the French-American alliance against the unpredictable forces of an irrational populism. America sided with a Trumpified England in a sneak attack against France: It must have come to Macron as a frightening realization, and in this case the medium was the message. The suddenness of the insight made it feel violent — a violence that feels like the future.

I was fascinated by AL‘s point here. As I told him by email, I don’t think that’s the correct – or at least complete – interpretation of what the US is doing here. The US is doing this in spite of being deeply anti-Brexit and thinking Johnson’s a clown not because of it. This is about the central role of China in Biden administration national security policy thinking. Australia is there in the region; the relationship between the UK and Australia speaks for itself.

But from the French perspective that may all amount to the same thing. It’s certainly reasonable for the French to see this and conclude that whatever displeasure we may have with Brexit and Johnson is trumped by the deep security ties between the US and the UK and the broader ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence/security relationship.

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