No, Ms. Stohl, the “failure” is al-Qaeda’s for refusing to comply with the laws of war. They should be punished for that failure and not rewarded with even more American caution. Jihadists bear all — and I mean all — the moral responsibility for the hostages’ death. And if we adjust our tactics in response to this strike — making us even more reluctant to shoot — then we’ll only guarantee that jihadists will further burrow themselves deep into the civilian population and do their best to surround themselves with western hostages.
Let me be perfectly clear: When we create rules and procedures of warfare that treat each and every civilian death as an American failure, we tie the hands of our men and women in uniform, we empower terrorists, and we cost American lives. A hidden scandal of the War on Terror is the indefensible toll in American lives due directly to excessive caution, unduly strict rules of engagement, and a military legal culture that creates palpable fear of punishment for even good-faith mistakes under fire. Read Dakota Meyer and Bing West’s Into the Fire and tell me that we don’t empower the enemy with our timidity and caution.
Our timidity isn’t moral. It’s just weak. In fact, it’s worse than weak because it’s often driven and motivated by the international Left’s lawfare — its efforts to so restrict the legal conduct of war that it essentially outlaws conventional combat. Americans weep for Mr. Weinstein and his family, but our mourning must turn not into self-doubt but into rage, a renewed resolve to find and kill terrorists — no matter how they hide, or who they hide behind.