The coming war between fiscal hawks and defense hawks

What’s really bothering neocons is that for the first time since 9-11, increased defense spending is no longer an article of faith. They had managed the remarkable political feat of reversing America’s post-Vietnam antipathy towards war, creating a presumption in favor of military engagement, despite the country’s strong non-interventionist intellectual tradition that harkens back to the founding. (Remember George Washington’s warning against foreign entanglements?) They made the idea of America playing global cop intellectually respectable again.

But their open-ended defense agenda is no longer fiscally sustainable…

The debt deal will force Democrats to confront the fact that the country doesn’t have limitless funds to throw at all their cherished programs. Having to choose between funding prescription drugs for the elderly or vaccinations for children might be wrenching, but it won’t pose a fundamental dilemma for them. Republicans, on the other hand, are heading for a major existential realignment. They will have to pick between the fiscal hawks and defense hawks, two legs of Reagan’s famous three-legged stool that putatively prop up conservatism.