Nothing could be further form the truth. Long before the United States stepped foot in Iraq, al-Qaeda agents spent their days thinking about how to rip apart Western culture. They claimed innocent lives in Madrid, Bali, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, and yes, New York on September 11. The war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestine conflict—these are flashpoints in the war; they are not the cause or effect. Remember, terrorist attacks were planned during the Clinton administration, when the United States was engaging in the most active efforts to facilitate Middle East Peace Talks. In 1998 Al Qaeda blew up the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, killing 224 individuals. In 2000 they detonated a bomb alongside the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 servicemen. These terrorists declared war on our way of life long before we entered Iraq. So it would be naïve to think that pulling out of Iraq, or changing our policies regarding the Middle East peace process, would somehow stem the violence.
The problem is larger than Iraq. It is larger than Israel or Palestine. It’s not about political polices. It’s about the fact that for much of modern history, the Muslim world has occupied a dominant role on the world stage. This is no longer the case. Over the past 200 years, the Muslim world has fallen far behind the Western world in terms of military power, science, and economic prosperity. In a very real way, the Muslim world has had to confront the reality of having lost a war—of having witnessed the slow recession of their culture.
Of course the root cause of the Muslim world’s erosion over the past 200 years is not Western culture. The Muslim worlds’ tendency toward a monolithic, totalitarian model of leadership has stifled their economic development, thrusting much of the Muslim world into poverty.