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How many simultaneous wars can the global economy take before it collapses in exhaustion?

For many years, US strategic thinking insisted on maintaining the capacity to wage two-and-a-half wars. That means its forces, deployed all over the world, must be ready to fight two full-fledged wars and one low-grade conflict.

We are in that situation now. Two full-fledged wars in Ukraine and Gaza have stretched US capability to perform as the world’s policeman.

While the two hot wars are going on, there is an escalation of tensions in the Western Pacific. Here there is substantial US commitment as well. North Korea can create trouble by firing more missiles at the Sea of Japan. China is expected to continue pushing its territorial claims in the South China Sea with greater aggressiveness. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan remains possible.

The war in Ukraine has been resource-intensive. It has clearly settled into a long war of attrition where neither Russia nor Ukraine is in a position for a decisive victory.

There are moments in this war when the artillery exchanges consume more shells than all the western economies could manage to manufacture. A US company manufacturing howitzer shells is running round the clock. Still the US military is said to be scraping the bottom of the barrel with regards to ammunition.

The Biden administration is set to request the US Congress for an appropriation of about $100 billion to fund military support for both Ukraine and Israel. In the face of internal wrangling among Republicans, the US House of Representatives remains without a Speaker. It cannot do business even as two major conflagrations are in progress.

The gallant defense being mounted by the Ukrainians assure us that the conflict in that part of the world will not spread to neighboring countries. It is the peril of a spreading conflict that motivates the European nations to generously donate their own armaments to Ukraine.

In the Middle East, no one is confident that fighting will not spread. A few days ago, Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen fired several cruise missiles presumed to be aimed at Israel. The missiles were intercepted and destroyed by a US warship in the Red