Eric McMillan in The Atlantic:
During my last tour in Iraq, I made it a habit to inquire after people’s children. I found that by doing so I got through defenses, that people opened up, and even grew receptive to what I had to say. It was a splendid tactic that I used with sheiks and patriarchs and police chiefs. I used it with merchants, imams, mayors, and, sometimes, even insurgents in disguise. It’s a trick that works especially well with soldiers, my own as well as Iraqi. In ten years in the Army, I discovered one thing I found consistently surprising: I never met a professional soldier who wanted his children to someday follow in his path.