Glen over at The Captains Journal has it right.
Somehow the U.S. attitude has evolved into a nonsensical “kinder and gentler” way of war. Perhaps this is the result of the doctrine of “Proportional Response” that is embedded in the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 1977 (protocols to which the U.S. is not a signatory). This doctrine aims to limit both the resort to armed force and the type of actions undertaken once armed force has been initiated. Proportional Response, however, took its modern form in the aftermath of total war in World War II. The limitations attempt to spare civilian populations from the horrors of war, particularly where no, legitimate military advantage can be gained.
Unfortunately, warfare in the 21st Century has side-stepped the best intentions of the Geneva protocols. And, I would argue, this is actually a deliberate development by asymmetric enemies such as Militant Islam that shrewdly recognize the weakness of States which feel bound to the protocols even where the Islamists do not. So, for example, it has become routine practice for Al Qaeda to insinuate itself in the midst of civilian populations for the deliberate purpose of using the population as a shield against attacks by U.S. forces. The Taliban practice this as well to devastating effect, forcing U.S. commanders to let enemy combatants go free or risk being brought up on charges like the Haditha Marines.
Read the entire post.
When I complete my current assignment I hope to come back to this subject.