In a country like Liberia, it matters who fires live rounds. It matters who uses less lethal means to control crowds. It matters who is present when things go awry. The reputation of an entire institution is at stake. Because, in Liberia, where mistrust of the government runs deep, incidents can be used to fuel the flame for future violence.
The ultimate folly is the belief that people are infinitely malleable, that Americans have been anointed to shape and mold humanity against its will, and that there is nothing which cannot be achieved through a few bombing runs, an occasional invasion, and a thorough military occupation. Real leadership means being prepared not to get involved. Real leadership means not being flattered into war by other states proclaiming America's indispensability in solving their problems. Real leadership means allowing, indeed, expecting, others to take control of their own destinies. Foreign policy is a difficult business. In practice the administration has been foolish and feckless, often blundering along even when it has made the right decision, such as not to attack Syria. And its desperate desire to do something risks drawing it in by increments, a serious danger in Iraq today.
The United States should use the 300 soldiers who are on their way to Iraq to stiffen its allies spines and to generate collective action to fight the forces of evil now set loose in the Middle East. America can help with this endeavor, but the heavy lifting must be the responsibility of America's Middle East Allies.
Obama has been critical of his foreign policy critics of late, suggesting that they had little to propose other than military intervention. As a sometimes critic, I take exception to that charge, as I rarely support "boots on the ground," but do question the Obama administration both for what it is doing and not doing.