A month after Britons surprised themselves and the world by narrowly voting - 52% to 48% - to abandon their safe harbor inside the European Union, the initially pyrotechnic response in all quarters has given way to a wary lull, as the protagonists in London and Brussels, Paris and Berlin, wait for someone else to make a significant first move to achieve Brexit - the promised UK departure after 43 years.
“Andy Goodpaster,” as everyone called him during his two decades as a military elder-statesman in Washington, would counsel that in any enterprise – especially military ones – it was invariably tempting but always fatal to confuse rhetoric and reality. He had personal experience. In the aftermath of World War II, as the formidable Colonel Andrew Goodpaster, engineer and soldier-scholar with a war record of some bravery, he was picked by Eisenhower to help transform NATO from rhetoric into a functioning military alliance.
Who knew that the monumental Christmas tree glittering in front of Notre Dame of Paris last winter was funded by the Embassy of Russia? This allowed the leading public television channel in Russia to say: “This year, Parisians do not have enough money any more for their Christmas tree.” In spite of increasing Russian presence on the banks of the Seine, almost nobody in Paris heard about it.
Perhaps it is the new speed of communications in this era of America's first internet president that impels Barack Obama and some of his closest foreign policy aides and advisors to produce memoir style defenses of the administration's foreign policies even before they are out the door.
NATO’s 28 heads of state and government meet in Warsaw this Friday and Saturday in what has become a biannual event, whether or not the times demand it. Until Britain on June 23 voted to leave the European Union—the so-called Brexit—the NATO summit would have been pretty routine. It would have been limited to building on past decisions, though some with major consequences for European security, but it wouldn’t have set out in new directions. But now the summit will of necessity be anything but routine—or it will fail the test of history.
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