Separating Signal From Noise in the Tumultuous Year Ahead

Separating Signal From Noise in the Tumultuous Year Ahead
British Prime Minister Theresa May listens to U.S. President Donald Trump during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30, 2018 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

Today would seem to offer a generous news cycle for a weekly columnist in search of a topic to write about. The New York Times and The Washington Post are back to trading bombshells about Donald Trump, with recent reports that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation against Trump in the early months of his presidency because top officials feared he might be compromised or controlled by the Kremlin, and that Trump has gone to great lengths to hide the details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin from his own administration. Those were soon followed by revelations that Trump periodically but consistently raises his desire to withdraw the U.S. from NATO with aides and advisers.

If that wasn’t enough, across the Atlantic, the British Parliament voted late Tuesday to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s transitional Brexit deal with the European Union, and May now faces a no-confidence vote. It’s hard to know where to start.

I won’t be writing about those stories, though. Not because they’re not important—they are. But in many ways they amount to noise rather than signal. The Trump stories reveal little we did not already know or fear. The Brexit vote, like everything that has preceded it in that shambolic process, will raise familiar and still unanswerable questions about how to separate the U.K. from the EU without wreaking havoc on both sides of the English Channel.

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