Bagehot is amazed that the British defense retooling involves a long-term partnership with the French:

[T]he truly startling part for me was hearing a Conservative prime minister say, not once but repeatedly, that Britain's future clout lay in working with its two closest allies, "the United States and France." Playing down the fact that from now until 2019 the cuts mean that Britain will not be able to fly fighter jets off an aircraft carrier, Mr Cameron specifically noted that at least one of two new aircraft carriers under construction would be redesigned with catapults so that it could take American and French aircraft.

Asked by an MP what had changed to make Britain so keen to work with France, the prime minister said that (a) President Nicolas Sarkozy was very keen on this planned cooperation, (b) Mr Sarkozy had shown willing by putting France back into the military command structures of NATO and (c) that France and Britain were both determined to maintain and enhance their defence capabilities. To translate these cautious words into plain English, Mr Cameron was telling MPs: (a) France is a serious military power, indeed the only other serious military power in Europe (b) Mr Sarkozy is a radical pragmatist whose decision to rejoin NATO's military structures buried decades of Gaullist anti-Americanism and (c) like Britain, France is broke.

 The last thing seems to me the most salient. And some day soon, America will have to face it as well.

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