Bienvenue and G’day to America’s new best friends

UK and Israel replaced on list of key allies.

Who are America’s best friends in the world? A decade ago, the answer might have been  the UK and Israel, but events and personalities have not been kind to both relationships.

Britain has become more inward-looking and its politics are still scarred by the unconditional support Tony Blair gave to the Iraq invasion. The current leaders of Israel and the US can barely stand to be in the same room with each other and Israel is central to few of the huge problems now engulfing the Middle East.

Instead, this week’s agenda gives an indication of the new hierarchy in Washington. On Tuesday, Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s new prime minister, was Barack Obama’s guest at the White House. Meanwhile, defence secretary Ashton Carter was in Paris for meetings about Isis and to give a talk on Thursday at the Ecole Militaire.

While China may be catching the US in military spending and Russia delights in challenging American power, neither country has real friends it can rely on. American influence, on the other hand, is amplified by the webs of alliances it operates around the world. Within its alliances, it has always lent on one or two fulcrum countries, the first call when things go wrong. France and Australia are becoming those partners.

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The Financial Times
21 January 2016