Sorry for the lack of posting as of late. Blame 40 hours a week of work.
I just finished watching the de factor Season 3 opener of The West Wing, "Isaac and Ishmael". It isn't the greatest episode ever, and it is definitely preachy, but it also has a really important message about this war we're in against terrorism that when the episode first aired had just started.
The entire episode makes a lot of great points, but perhaps the greatest is made by First Lady Abbey Bartlet. One of the students the White House staffers are with during a security breach asks how Islamic extremism and the resulting terrorism started. This was her answer.
"Sarah... God said to Abraham, "Look toward the heaven and number the stars and so shall your descendants be." But Abraham's wife, Sarah, wasn't getting any younger, and God wasn't coming through on His promise... Sarah was getting older, and she was getting nervous because she didn't have any children. So she sent Abraham to the bed of her maid, Hagar, and Abraham and Hagar had Ishmael. And not long after they did, God kept His promise to Sarah, as He'd always intended to, and Abraham and Sarah had Isaac. And Sarah said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of the slave woman will not be heir with my son Isaac." And so it began: the Jews, the sons of Isaac. The Arabs, the sons of Ishmael. But what most people find important to remember is that, in the end, the two sons came together to bury their father."
I'll keep this brief, because to me, that particular piece of prose speaks for itself. But whenever anyone thinks the problems in the Middle East can be solved with just a war or a bomb, remember exactly how far back this entire conflict extends.