Via Ezra Klein, here’s a link to an excellent post by Lorelei Kelly about the calls for more “boots on the ground” to spread democracy:

We need more than boots. In fact, over-reliance on boots may be a primary cause of our public relations problems with the rest of the world. We need loafers, pumps, Birkenstocks, waffle-stompers, sensible flats and tourists in tennis shoes out around the planetâ?¦ working to retrieve the golden reputation of the good ole USA. The more the face of America is seen in uniform and holding weapons, the less this reputation holds up.

Exactly. Peace will only come when the first image that comes to people’s minds when they think of Americans is of regular people doing regular things, not of people with body armor and automatic weapons telling them to keep their hands in sight at all times. We need both, mostly in different times and places, and the Army is simply not the instrument for both. It’s not what the organization is designed for, it’s not what the personnel (for the most part) are trained for, and nor should it be. Read Lorelei’s post for a fuller description of a workable alternative.