The current "conventional wisdom" is that the whole Middle East issue is the fault of the US. We created it, we're the source of the Arab/Israeli conflict, we're the creator of Al Qaeda, we're the fountainhead of all ills in that troubled region. Any action on our part can do nothing but further foment hatred toward the US.
In essence, we're damned if we do, we're damned if we don't.
We're hated for not continuing support of the Afghanistan government after the threat of the USSR went away, letting a civil war erupt.
We're hated because we're still in Iraq at the behest of their government to try to avoid a civil war.
We're hated for letting Saddam invade Kuwait and threaten Saudi Arabia.
We're hated for staying in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the first Gulf War to protect from Saddam repeating his invasion of Kuwait.
We're hated for having an official policy of regime change in Iraq.
We're hated for not helping the locals change the regime in Iraq.
We're hated for finally executing regime change in Iraq.
Damned if we do, damned if we don't.
Seems to me that no matter what we do we're hated. That's the central thread we're dealing with - irrational hatred of anything "Western" or "non-Arabic Muslim". And when we abide by the customs of their country - women covered up, no alcohol, stop work 5 times a day, no images of people, even leaving Bibles at home - we're still hated as infidels and invaders.
As far as the whole Israel/Palestine conflict goes, why isn't the hatred directed at the UN? They set up Israel, and didn't follow through on setting up an Arab state of Palestine. Israel would NOT EVEN EXIST if it wasn't for the UN's resolutions. So why not direct their hatred at the UN, rather than Israel, or the US?
For example, when Ehud Barak offered as a STARTING POINT a full 95% of what the Palestinian appologists demanded, the PLO, Hamas, and most Arab states STILL REFUSED to even ACKNOWLEDGE the existence of Israel. One side is talking about leaving most of the disputed territories immediately, and complete withdrawals over a short time, going back to the pre-1967 borders, and the other side doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the first.
I think the wishful thinking that "if the US would just leave the Middle East all would be good!" is seriously flawed. We're hated for interfering by protecting mulsims in Bosnia and Somalia, and hated for not protecting muslims in Iraq or Kuwait.
Damned if we do, damned if we don't.
Essentially, we're hated for not what we've done, but for what we are - we're not muslim. We have different values and a different culture. We have tolerance. We allow individual freedoms. We believe ALL men AND women - of every race and creed - are created equal. We represent what they despise. It's not our actions, it's our very NATURE that is the source of their hatred. The very freedoms that we take for granted - and are used every day by those protesting the US' current involvement in the Middle East - are the source of the hatred against the US.
Here we have parades celebrating the gay lifestyle. They stone not just gays, but if you're even raped by a gay man you're sentenced to that grisly death.
We allow people to live together ourside of marriage. They will stone a woman for simply talking to a man.
We have women heading up some of our largest corporations, leading countries. They forbid women from even opening a book.
We encourage families to share their values and go to church together - they force families apart, even in worship.
We allow you to choose your own path to spiritual enlightenment, even if that means no path. They will behead you if you do not submit to every written word of Mohammed.
We will let you make a movie criticizing religions, governments, companies, cultural values, even the legal system. They will kill you for simply drawing an image of Mohammed.
We protect and honor religious and cultural shrines, artwork, and buildings because of the history and knowledge they provide. They blow up anything from a different culture or religion.
We allow political dissent, free speech, and provide the right to a trial by a jury of your peers. They summarily execute any who speak against the leadership, and your right to trial is a right to have a cleric decide whether you're shot, hung, or stoned.
In light of this we might as well just do what the heck we want strictly for our own interests, because whatever we do it's obviously not going to change the radical Arab-muslim's view of the US.
Because we're damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't.