Suppose we go into a place like Afghanistan, kill every single adult male in the whole country, and the women and children are still standing defiantly at the edge of their villages refusing to accept our rule. What do we do then? Start shooting the women and children? Or just admit we've lost? In the end, victory at war in our time is a game of popularity and nothing else.
So how do we change the way people feel about us? I don't think handing out candy in the villages is going to do it. It certainly helps. American soldiers become more "human" to them by interacting, but we're dealing with highly impoverished people who think "America's Greed" is the reason they don't have running water. Some of them, such as the swamp people in Iraq that got displaced by oil wells, whom Lynx talks about sometimes, are probably right to think that.
What should they do? Take it lying down? Or shoot at us? Clearly the correct answer is that they should shoot at us, and it's our fault that that is the correct answer. We haven't given them a third option. They have no other way to assert themselves apart from guns. Maybe we should....I don't know.... try giving them another way to assert themselves, and see if they use it? So, what are our options? I can think of a few, but it's a complicated question, and I'm sure my own list is far from complete.
1) - Voting
It works if people can be confident that the process isn't going to be hijacked. Also, in places like Iraq where you've got 3 big ethnic groups struggling for supremacy, handing the victory on a silver platter to one group over the other 2, just on the basis of its pure numerical superiority, might not foster the best internal relations for that society. It also encourages the most horrible of all social outcomes: deliberate over-reproduction. Contraception and womens' rights are unlikely to improve in such an environment.
2) - Allowing/Encouraging them to become communists.
For a less educated society, a state property system allows the people to hold their own government more directly responsible for their own individual economic well being. Instead of being confused by a bunch of charts and models that predict that they "should" be making a good living, they can demand results and when those results don't come, they can take up arms and attack their own government instead of ours!
Also, having less personal freedom makes it more difficult for their government to claim plausible deniability in the matter when a terrorist attack occurs. As much as it may hurt our nation's feeling that we lost Vietnam, I've yet to hear of any successful Vietnamese terror cells launching attacks on US soil.
3) - Allow them to kill our profits.
If we're pumping oil out of a region, let the percentage of some quarterly vote be the amount of oil we get to drill. If the well's output capacity is 100 barrels a day, and only 21% of the people like us, then we only get to pump 21 gallons a day until we find a way to improve how they feel about us.
That might be too basic to work, but you can see where I'm going with it?
It's kind of like how your girlfriend won't sleep with you if she's unhappy. You really don't want your girlfriend to be unhappy.