By the time the United States leaves Afghanistan in late 2016, an entire generation of Americans will have entered high school only knowing war. So what's next? Earlier today, President Obama delivered the commencement speech at West Point in which he tried to explain our role in global affairs after leaving Iraq in ruins and Afghanistan to mostly fend for itself and Yemenis really, really angry. It mostly boils down to "Don't Do Stupid Shit." And drones.

This is the Timesian description of Obama's doctrine:

In private conversations, the president has used a saltier variation of the phrase, “don’t do stupid stuff” - brushing aside as reckless those who say the United States should consider enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria or supplying arms to Ukrainian troops.

Given our ability to kill people with remote-controlled airplanes from thousands of miles away, it's much tougher now to do stupid shit than it used to be. Luckily, stupidity is largely defined by the country with the biggest guns.

The President said:

In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise - who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away - are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low, and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.

U.S. Military = Powerful. No arguments there.

Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve. Not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges at home, that view is shared by many Americans.

Not "many," but "most"— in December, 80% of Americans polled believed that we should "concentrate more on our own national problems and building up our own strengths and prosperities here at home." The numbers represented a 50-year-high.

A different view, from interventionists on the left and right, says we ignore these conflicts at our own peril; that America’s willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos, and America’s failure to act in the face of Syrian brutality or Russian provocations not only violates our conscience, but invites escalating aggression in the future.

A kind nod to former members of the Bush administration and the members of the left who think that we should be fighting in Syria (and also that the press should defer to the doctrine of prior restraint). But we digress.

Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only - or even primary - component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader—and especially your Commander-in-Chief—to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.

The president invokes Maslow's Hammer to create Obama's Chisel. Why send troops to kill terrorists in northern Mali when we can use drones to reveal targets to the French? Why send (at least publicly) troops to kill terrorists in Yemen when we can just use drones? Why send troops to kill terrorists in Somalia when we can just send drones?

About those drones:

Let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. The partnership I’ve described does not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. When we have actionable intelligence, that’s what we do - through capture operations, like the one that brought a terrorist involved in the plot to bomb our Embassies in 1998 to face justice; or drone strikes, like those we have carried out in Yemen and Somalia. But as I said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.

By his own standard, the president has failed to meet the bar of "Don't Do Stupid Shit." But at least he'll be able to share some of the responsibility with Congress and the public:

Today, as part of this effort, I am calling on Congress to support a new Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines. These resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali.

The president also invoked the need for more "transparency" within his government, and added that "our NATO allies must pull their weight to counter-terrorism, respond to failed states, and train a network of partners." But overall the future looks rife with smaller conflicts that may be just as costly in blood and treasure as the previous 16 years have.