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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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APRIL 2017

25

dum in June 2016 has resulted in the United Kingdom setting a

course for leaving the European Union, of which it has been a

prominent member for more than 40 years. Now less and less

weight is given to the fact that the integration of Europe and Brit-

ain’s contribution to it during

the last four decades prevented

a recurrence of the kind of con-

flicts that scarred the continent

in the past.

Indeed, the decision of the

British people has raised the

possibility that the very exis-

tence of the European Union

itself may be at risk, thanks

to the encouragement it has

afforded to parties of the right

in France, Germany and Hol-

land. In the forthcoming elec-

tions in all three countries, these parties will press even harder

for withdrawal, spurred on by the British example.

It is presumptuous to offer an opinion on the circumstances

which led to Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the

United States, and it is also dangerous to invoke parallels. But it

can reasonably be said that there are certain similarities in the

public mood in both the United Kingdom and United States. Not

the least of these is the rejection of former Secretary of State Hill-

ary Clinton, whose qualifica-

tions and experience became

a hindrance rather than an

advantage in the eyes of many

American voters because

they identified her with what

they regarded as a discredited

establishment.

Against this background, it

is necessary to consider what

the consequences of these

events are for a rules-based

system and for the trans-Atlan-

tic relationship, particularly as

it affects the United States and United Kingdom. This task is not

made any easier by the fact that at the time of writing there is no

clear view of the foreign policy positions which the United States

may take under its new president.

We face challenges of an

entirely different nature,

reflecting the disillusionment

and even discontent

many citizens feel toward

governments.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NATO