That’s been a popular question for US presidents for decades. It’s a little more interesting to hear it being asked by foreign policy elites in Manhattan lofts:
At a dinner party on Manhattan’s upper east side recently, I asked my table-mates how many aircraft carriers they thought America had in service. It wasn’t an idle question. It was triggered by comments from two of the guests. Both had just returned from Iran, and one was a senior European Union staffer involved with security issues. Their report was seriously distressing, and the conversation turned to the possibility of U.S. (or Israeli) intervention.
The answers to my question – how many carriers — ranged from 22 to 100. The EU expert weighed in with 40. All were shocked to learn that the United States has a total of just 11 aircraft carriers. And even that number is misleading: two are in dry-dock, one for a four-year refueling; six are various stages of refurbishment, training and certification and can, in theory, be ready to “surge” in 30 to 90 days. But only three are actually deployed.
Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em.
And read the whole thing.