With Brexit ahead, Britain has once more lost its global heft and not yet found a role (even as it seeks one, ironically, in the Commonwealth, among those very nations whose decolonization left Britain diminished in the first place). From an American perspective, the special relationship with Britain is now getting close to worthless. Britain has almost no clout left in Europe, and offers America little beyond a forlorn guarantee of strategic obedience (so long as there is a Conservative government in power, however dysfunctional).

France, on the other hand, is equipped to be a proud and robust counterpart. It is, in effect, the only globally functioning European power at present, Germany being dazed and neutered after the last election. Of utility to the U.S. is also the fact that France has the only significant army in democratic continental Europe, a battle-hardened force that is not shy of flexing its muscles anywhere in the world. The French have a blue-water navy — no trivial asset at a time of widespread Chinese sea-grabbing — as well as significant overseas bases, especially in Africa.

Since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the terms of which are still being hammered out, Britain has been largely shut out of the bloc’s foreign policy processes. Here, France reigns supreme, more powerful in Europe than it has been since the heady days of the Union’s early founding. In fact, so confident is France that its president is unabashed to speak in English when he’s abroad. Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand would rather have died than utter a word of Albion’s tongue.