As I write in mid-July 2016, all the Transatlantic chatterati can seem to talk and write about—except when temporarily interrupted by terrorist outrages like the one at the Istanbul airport on June 28—is Brexit. It is as though, for some, everything was just fine in Europe before June 23. And it is all too typical that the brunt of much of the commentary revolves around whom to blame for the surprising disaster.
So let us start with a necessary restatement of what ought to be obvious but isn’t, apparently. The Brexit vote was a highly telegenic symptom of lingering problems, not a cause or source of them. It is not the most important datum of the current disorder in Europe and across the Atlantic, and the next chapters of this disorder’s tale are neither known nor numbered; many outcomes are possible and the possibilities are subject to human agency. But Brexit does demonstrate how difficult it has been, to one extent or another, for the elites of all the Atlantic nations to digest the many dramatic changes that emerged from the reordering of the world since 1990.
The article originally appeared in The American Interest on July 25, 2016. Continue reading here.
John C. Kornblum was the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 1997 to 2001 and currently serves on AICGS’ Board of Trustees.