Under David Cameron's leadership, Britain's importance as a U.S. ally has steadily diminished. His government was slow in joining the campaign against ISIS and has played no significant role in Ukraine.

Consequently, the result of Cameron's last and most calamitous misstep, the promotion of an unnecessary referendum on Britain's membership in the European Union, should logically lead to an acceleration of an existing trend in U.S. foreign relations, rather than an abrupt shift. The US should not expect much help from London in managing new crises in the Middle East and elsewhere in the coming years — but then, that was already the case.

How much further the "special relationship" between the US and Britain will be devalued will depend on what now looks like a very unpredictable course of events in London. The uncertainty means that neither the Obama administration nor Obama's successor should rush to forge a new economic or political relationship with a non-EU Britain. Any deals should await Britain's settlement with the EU.

The US can best support Britain, and Europe by becoming a more active and vocal leader of the NATO alliance, which will retain Britain as a member. If the EU is weakening or even in danger of crumbling, then one antidote is a reinforced trans-Atlantic military partnership that bridges the incipient gap between London and the continent.


NATO's next summit meeting is scheduled for July in Warsaw, and Obama should take the occasion to reconfirm U.S. commitment to NATO — and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should be judged on whether they do the same.

The Washington Post