I agree with you on Afghanistan, however I think you're totally in the dark on the Middle East.
I mean, you acknowledge that like 9/11 happened, right? To argue that the Middle East wasn't a problem prior to Iraq is absurd.
Saudis create the propaganda, the Iranians and the Syrians fund it, and the Lebanese and the palestinians act upon it. It of course goes well beyond the Middle East, b/c Islamic extremists are causing trouble all around the world.
Where do they pray to?
You seem like a reasonable person to me, but you also strike me as the type who wants it boths ways. You acknowldge that there's a war on terrorism (perhaps?), but are unwilling to address the root causes. It's all a collection of uncontrolable, isolated incidents. Hey, we've always had terrorism, right? Hey, Arabs have always been killing each other right? A bomb goes of in Istanbul, a plot is foiled in England, and a critical film maker is executed in Holland. Hey, these are criminal matters conducted by isolated actors with no binding purpose. Yup yup.
You also at one point argued that Saddam Hussein was a secular ruler with no interest in Islamic terrorism (maybe not in this thread, but whatever). This is very false, and it's also intellectually dishonest. After all, I'm sure you're aware that Hussein compensated the families of suicide bombers in Palestine
. He also used Islam as a political device, one that allowed him to present himself as the political leader of the faith, and the ruler of the
stabilizing force in the ME. This is one of the reasons he built so many large and beautiful mosques
there. One of them held a Koran written in his own blood, 28 liters donated over the course of two years. Quite the secularist, eh?
Maybe then you'll say "well, he had nothing to do with Al Qaeda". This is a more reasonable argument, but also not entirely accurate. Granted, the Bush admin. perhaps made it hard to explore any of the truthiness in this, b/c they pursued and exaggerated everything they could in order to connect the dots in the rush to war. However, this doesn't change the fact that even the 9/11 Report concedes that Iraqi agents met with Taliban officials in Afghanistan, and then with Bin Laden in 1998. Saddam was certainly weary of him, but that had more to do with Hussein's desire to patch things up with the Saudis at the time (p. 66 if you own the report). Yossef Bodansky also confirms these feelers in his book "Bin Laden: The man who declared war on America."
Is it so unlikely to you that Saddam would use thse terrorists were they ever to serve his purposes (sort of the way Iran uses Hezbollah)? Your claim that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism and/or Al Qaeda is wrong on both counts. Iraq posed a threat to the entire Middle East, as well as their own suffering people.