The AP recently reported that in Gode, Ethiopia, “U.S. troops found two cheetah cubs –one of them blinded–being forced to fight each other for the amusement of jeering children. The soldiers of the U.S. counterterrorism task force…came across the three-month-old cheetahs ‘performing’ at a restaurant run by Mohamed Hudle. The Djibouti-based task force…mounts humanitarian projects aimed at improving the U.S. military’s image among Muslims” as part of the military’s “hearts and minds” campaign.

Hudle’s 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons “pulled the cubs’ tails and dragged them around their sun-parched yard by ropes tied tightly to their necks. Other children followed, poking and teasing the frightened cats…Mohamed also has a hawk with a broken wing and three scrawny baby ostriches.”

I hate to point out the obvious, but doesn’t “winning hearts and minds” first require that there be hearts and minds to win?

And here’s the irony: These are the kinds of places where we have to improve our image.

If we want to improve our image in Muslim countries, we need to start poisoning dogs and setting cats on fire.