The next time someone tells you that, if we just got out of Iraq and Afghanistan, then al-Qaeda would leave us alone, remind them of the three terrorists who have been arrested in Germany, which has no troops in Iraq, and whose presence in Afghanistan runs to a couple of Bratwurst stands in downtown Kabul.
While the bombers' primary targets were said to be American interests, those targets included public places such as nightclubs and airports. If the plot hadn't been thwarted, there's no doubt that many Germans would have been killed, while a major attack on Frankfurt airport would most likely have claimed victims of many different nationalities and religions, as did the 9/11 attacks and the 7/7 bombings in London.
Islamic extremists were attacking us long before we were in Iraq or Afghanistan, and they'll be attacking us long after we've left. Our presence in those countries might be responsible for pushing a few borderline jihadis over the edge, but the vast majority need no persuading; when a Jordanian or a Yemeni enters the country with the express intention of blowing as many Iraqi civilians as possible to pieces, he's not doing it to liberate the country, but to prevent peace and stability taking hold there and spreading to the wider Middle East, so that the Islamists can impose their brutal rule.
The occupation narrative is spun purely for western domestic consumption, and you have to hand it to the jihadis; they’ve correctly judged that the leftists that dominate the west’s media, academia, human rights organisations and other institutions are our achilles heel.
Moderate voices on the left are simply hyper-critical of their own countries because they hold them to impossible standards of goodness, and if some dark-skinned person in a faraway land claims to have been wronged by the west, then we’re condemned without trial.
The hard left, on the other hand, still seething with collective rage over the failures of communism and socialism, sees Islamism as some imaginary counterweight to the west’s free-market democratic system, and will excuse almost any act of barbarity on the grounds that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’.
The Islamists know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield, but they think they can defeat us in the progaganda war; and as long as the media and other opinion informers continue to make excuses for terrorism, they might be in with a chance.