Benjamin Oreskes writes: When it became clear that Britain had voted to leave the European Union, President Barack Obama called David Cameron to offer his sympathy. Then he dialed Angela Merkel, the leader he actually leans on in times of crisis.
It’s no secret why. For years now, Germany, not the U.K., has been Obama’s main line into European politics. And that’s why Washington’s influence in Europe will survive a Brexit.
The longstanding “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain gave Washington a key confidant at the table in Brussels, as Obama stressed in his April referendum intervention in London. But a Europe without a United Kingdom doesn’t exactly leave Britain’s former colony out in the cold.
“On the big issues, we’ve seen the transition for years now where the first call has not been to London, where it used to be, but to Berlin,” said Damon Wilson, a former senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council under George W. Bush and who is currently executive vice president of the Atlantic Council. “That transition has already happened and the great recession really accelerated that with the magnification of German economic and political power.” [Continue reading…]