In the matter of America's foreign policy going forward, what we wish to do, and what we are capable of doing are soon to become two different issues, given that we are adding $1 trillion-plus annually to an existing $16 trillion debt, and may have a rendezvouz with something like what Great Britain experienced in the late 1940s, when their vast WWII borrowing could not be sustained after 1945, given the country's decision to nationalize industry, socialize health care, and adopt a redistributive tax code and entitlement state, leaving America largely uncontested in rebuilding the world. That choice was made in a world in which there was not yet a South Korea or Taiwanese exporting giant, Germany and Japan were flattened, Russia and China were ruined, and much of Western Europe was in disarray due to bombing and occupation. That the world would soon buy Hondas and Mercedes rather than Minis and Jaguars was not foreordained in 1946; and in our own case, there was no rule that said in 2012 Detroit had to look like Hiroshima in 1945 while contemporary Hiroshima resembled what Detroit used to be.
Most of our interventions—Grenada, Panama, the Balkans, Libya, Iraq—were optional wars (Afghanistan was aimed at ending bases from which to repeat 9/11 like attacks), and thus any more like them may well be framed in terms of 'fight abroad or cut back on food stamps, Medicare, Obamacare, etc. at home.' Statesmen realign aims and responsibilities with exiting resources, and eventually cut back on the former if they cannot expand the latter while explaining to the public the dilemmas involved. This administration, however, has not talked about the effect of gargantuan debt upon military activism, and I think has conceded by our ongoing lead from behind strategy that while we are not going to lessen our borrowing, we at least accept that the defense budget will not be funded as in past years. Small annual deficits, 5% GDP growth, and 5% unemployment, if only politically, allow foreign policy options that chronic $1 trillion deficits, 2% GDP growth, 8% plus unemployment do not. U.S. foreign policy and military stature are rapidly under this president becoming a question of math. All this raises the gorge the beast question: did Obama see positive developments in vastly expanding government spending by $5 trillion in just 3 years (with another $6 trillion scheduled by 2016) that eventually will mean higher taxes on the wealthy and a more quietist U.S. abroad?