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Rigorous Imposition of Public Order

The term 'ruthless' in describing the enemy has sprung onto the pages for at least the second time this week in a significant column. Having missed it earlier in the day, Glenn rightly directs readers to Ralph Peters, who rightly employs the language regarding the animals roaming the range in Iraq. Using yesterday's major kidnapping operation in Baghdad as a backdrop to illustrate the situation, Mr. Peters minces no words.

The students probably will be executed and dumped somewhere. Partly for the crime of wanting to study and build a future, but primarily just to step up the level of terror yet again.

Apart from highlighting the type of regime of which both Shia and Sunni Arab extremists dream - a land of disciplined ignorance and slavish devotion - the mass kidnapping also highlights the feebleness of our attempts to overcome ruthless enemies with generosity and good manners.

With Iraqi society decomposing - or, at best, reverting to a medieval state with cell phones - the debate in Washington over whether to try to save the day by deploying more troops or withdrawing some is of secondary relevance.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered - and permitted - to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

It should be noted that between the time Mr. Peters wrote his column and its publishing, the Iraqi kidnappers had set free all but two of the Iraqi hostages, surely due in no small part to the arrest of the entire top echelon of the Iraqi police responsible for security in the area of the university attacked.