Listening to CNN reading some responses from its viewers on the 8-year war in Afghanistan. One response from a man who identified himself as a Vietnam veteran: "I've got one thing to say to anyone who thinks we should get out: Remember 9/11."
A fine rousing sentiment, but unfortunately it just doesn't make sense.
Why did Osama want to attack us?
From the Peter Arnett interview with Sheikh Osama in 1997: (in "Messages to the World", p. 47)
Arnett: "Will the end of the US presence in Saudi Arabia ... end your call for jihad?"
Osama: "The reaction came as a result of the aggressive US policy toward the entire Muslim world and not just toward the Arabian peninsula. So if the cause that has called for this [jihad] comes to an end, this act in turn will come to an end. So the defensive jihad against the US does not stop with its withdrawal from the Arabian peninsula; rather it must desist from aggressive intervention against Muslims through the entire world."
= = = = =
Admittedly the claim of self-defense is always part of the propaganda of any warmaker. It may be true or false, but it's always laid out convincingly enough to keep the people fighting.
There are two ways to dislodge this feeling of righteous response: (1) Remove the irritant that seems to justify the response. (2) Show the people that their effort is absolutely futile and counterproductive.
We are doing neither.
In WW2 we took path #2: annihilated Jap and Kraut civilians by the millions until they finally understood the futility of their effort. In this war we've been delicate, dainty and careful, which will NEVER accomplish #2; we've only managed to validate
the feeling that we are endlessly meddling in that part of the world. Now it's too late for #2 anyway, even if we somehow miraculously acquired a sane government.
We've also put a lot of effort into "Installing Young Democracies", which translates to the people as "corrupting our culture."
So the only remaining choice is #1. Remove ourselves from the region and turn our military toward protecting our own ports and borders. (If we had been monitoring and deporting Arab immigrants in the first place, we could have prevented 9/11 completely.)
After that, Sheikh Osama and his colleagues will undoubtely continue to agitate, but their agitation will be much less convincing.