It gets said the US military can fight at most two and a half wars at any one time. What does that mean?
That is a statement of military capability. That is not a fiscal statement. Fighting two and a half wars non stop would be a surefire way for America to go bankrupt.
War is meant to be a weapon of last resort. It is not just because of democracy and diplomacy and peace and bloodshed and the ugliness and the unintended consequences. It is also dollars and cents. Wars are terribly expensive.
From the macro perspective, considering America was already fighting two wars in the Bush era, it was but inevitable that America would step back in the Obama era. The pendulum needed to swing.
America's costs in Iraq and Afghanistan ran into the trillions. That was one of the three or four reasons why the 2008 financial meltdown happened. Money is not free.
So how many wars can America fight at any one point in time? Two and a half.
But ideally America should fight zero wars. America should keep the powder dry, just in case. But, for the most part, America should work extra time to exhaust all other options first. Armies are almost like nuclear weapons, not meant to be used.
But when you do use them, you want to make sure all peaceful options were exhausted first, and they are in top shape, and the mission is well defined and achievable, and you are in and out. Open ended wars are not even wars.
America's founding mission is a total spread of democracy. Organizing immigrants and giving them voting rights in at least the big cities would go a long way. The "hombres" can be soldiers of democracy. The forces of democracy are proving less aggressive about using digital tools to spread democracy than those who would use the same to suppress peoples. Taking microfinance to two billion women would further the cause of democracy like few other things. Grassroots political organizing is the best way to spread democracy. It is also much less expensive than wars. And if you handle immigration right it is all paid for. People do it themselves. Remittance has done way more for the Global South than foreign aid ever did. Stop demonizing people.