Police stand guard as anti-war protestors demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 2015.
Peter Nicholls / Reuters

"Britain has got its mojo back," declared British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York last week. His comments followed a vote in the House of Commons that authorized British airstrikes in Syria. British allies greeted the decision with relief—the vote appeared to reverse what some critics viewed as the United Kingdom's inexorable retreat from the world stage.

Those critics argued that the United Kingdom had adopted an increasingly parochial attitude toward the rest of the world. They pointed to budget cuts in the military and diplomatic corps,

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