From a reader:
You don’t get it. Remember the story of al Qaeda baking children and serving them to their parents? Unless we are willing to be more brutal than that, the Iraqis will have no choice but to side with the terrorists. Al Qaeda offers them a future because if they refuse to cooperate they HAVE no future because they will be tortured and killed. What can we threaten them with? Building them a less luxurious neighborhood school? This enemy, and all future enemies, have our number: Start an insurgency, kill civilians, and alert the media. Then wait for American will to crumble. We have handed them the recipe for our defeat, this time, every time.
Me: Lord knows I’m not one of these people who always hyperventilates about the danger of becoming as bad as our enemy. But, I don’t think this is the American way nor the American path to victory. Tough-minded? Sure. But more brutal than people who (allegedly) serve parents their own cooked children? Sorry, no sale. If being less brutal than that makes it harder for America to win, then let it be harder.