Reprinted from Truthdig
British voters' decision to leave the European Union last week caused panic in world financial markets, with stocks dropping like a stone around the world. The British pound and the euro sank, and many "experts" lamented the beginning of the end of the EU. Maybe it's true that Brexit will lead to a period of instability in stock markets, currencies and European politics. But there's a bigger issue at play -- European foreign policy in support of U.S. interventions around the world.
As Chris Hedges eloquently noted in a recent Truthdig column, the U.K. is generally viewed as the closest ally of the United States. Washington uses that relationship to push its foreign policy under the guise of European and Western unity.
Is Libya falling apart? The U.S. and EU intervene, and it's all a show of unity.
The U.S. identifies a ragtag handful of Syrian "moderates," and the next thing you know, the entire alliance is wasting its resources arming them.
The U.S. wants to put a yes-man in power in Ukraine, and the EU nods silently in assent.
But that's not a working alliance. That's neoliberalism run amok. That's Washington using its big stick on its friends.
The mainstream media has made a great deal of Brexit being the result of British reaction against immigration. That's a shallow and not terribly analytic assessment. The truth is that Washington selfishly needs a unified EU to help fight its wars around the world. It needs the British to lean on other European countries to do its bidding.
But many Brits said no. They no longer want their troops committed to fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. They no longer want to intervene in places like Libya, Syria and Ukraine. They no longer want to be the U.S. mouthpiece in Europe. They no longer want to take their marching orders on defense and foreign affairs from Washington.
Now they don't have to. The "special relationship" notwithstanding, the EU no longer will have to follow Brits down the rabbit hole when the White House says to do so. Now the Germans, Italians, French, Spanish, Greeks and other EU members can tell Barack Obama and whoever comes after him to go fly a kite when it's time to wage war on somebody new.
The only shame is that, at least in this election cycle, Americans won't have the same choice. Donald Trump already has promised the American people that he will bring back torture and that he will "get tough" with friends and enemies alike. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has never seen a war she didn't love and want to fund. Both a Trump and a Clinton foreign policy would be an extension of the Obama foreign policy, which, frankly, has been nothing more than an extension of the George W. Bush foreign policy.
Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are fighting the good fight. Johnson especially may have an opportunity to be a player in this election. His anti-interventionist campaign is consistently pulling 10 percent or more in major national polls. But our next president is going to be Trump or Clinton.
This year was the end of politics as usual in the U.K., whether or not one agrees with the decision to leave the EU. Americans will have to wait until 2020 or later for a chance at real change.