The showdown in Washington over the federal deficit and the national debt might be seen as an innocuous game of one upmanship that soon will end after the parties work out a deal.

But these short-term political spats could cause lasting geopolitical damage, and even weaken the nation’s security, said Todd Harrison, budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

The tone of the debate in recent weeks implies that the impasse between Democrats and Republicans over raising the debt ceiling by Aug. 2 is more posturing than serious crisis, and that everyone knows that the United States would not really default on its financial obligations. Gridlock and fear mongering might be good for scoring political points, but are bad for the United States’ reputation and standing as a superpower, Harrison said.

“There really is a national security issue here,” he said July 18 at a news conference. “Even if we don’t default on our debt,” there could be long-term damage just from the perception that the United States would even consider failing to pay its obligations, said Harrison. “It can affect our ability to borrow, particularly during a time of crisis.”