Americans make the mistake when discussing federal spending –I did it yesterday in my conversation with Paul Ryan (transcript here)– of thinking our defense spending is a function of what we want it to be, when in fact it is dictated by the world.
The domestic budget battle is going the GOP’s way and the president’s sinking approval rating shows this.
But if the world takes advantage of our gridlock to surge ahead or past us in key technologies and regions, all that domestic political gamesmanship will mean zero.
Which is why the election of the pope matters as much to the world now as it did in 1978: The forces of freedom and enlightenment need an ally in the most visible pulpit in the world. We haven’t got a Thatcher or a Reagan yet, but when they do appear, let’s hope they have a John Paul II to help them.