I agree that diplomacy has to be our primary method of handling inernational affairs. However, I think that you have a bit of an unrealistic impression of how much possibility for diplomacy there is in this situation. Those that we are fighting against do not value life. They are willing to die, based upon a misguided view of the afterlife and piles of virgins at the foot of Allah. We are not really dealing with radicals....we are dealing with fanatics. The atrocity of 9/11 clearly displays the types of people we are dealing with.
Now, with that being said, I again agree that diplomacy must be our primary path for dealing with the region and all of it's complexities. But, in regards to terrorists, they must simply die like rabid dogs, because they won't stop trying to bite us, no matter what we do. If we can simultaneously follow these two paths, we indeed have a better chance of getting out of this mess.
As to the issue of resolve, I have to disagree with you. Every day, there is a bombing of sorts over in Iraq. Have you ever wondered why they happen like that?...not in larger clusters? Every night, CNN will show the daily dose of Iraqi terrorism, just like they want it. Their whole goal is to break the resolve of the US. How better to do that than to assure that every American's dinner-time news contains it's daily dose of death in Iraq? Now, let's assume that this works and we simply pull out like Spain or the Philipines. Do you truly think that they will leave us alone after that?...not a chance. The difference is that we are the target here. The only thing we can do is show them that we will not be deterred from our cause.
On a larger note, this may not be the Cold War, but we are the last remaining superpower. In that position, we simply cannot afford to have anyone question our resolve.
"antithesis of the fundamentalist culture that they are trying to sustain"
What exactly about the West is it that you think they are fighting against? Our society is founded upon the idea of freedom and our system is based upon the ideals of Capitalism and the secular ideal of speparation of church and state. In essence, everything that we represent is the opposite of the system these extremists are fighting to maintain, a system based upon strict fundamentalist doctrine. I think we have different views on the depth of the hatred and resolve in our advisary, as you again mention diplomacy in dealing with terrorists. I hope I am wrong, but I don't share that optimism. Again, actions from 9/11 make it clear to me the value they place on life and the level of hatred they hold for us.
I'd have to see your source for your comments about the makeup of the prisoners. Beyond that, I wouldn't be surprised if you were correct. However, the makeup of those prisoners is not necessarily a reflection of the makeup of the insurgency. I'm not there, but I would suspect that we don't catch many of these terrorists as they set the roadside bombs and those fighting directly with our soldiers either end up disappearing into the wind or end up swiss cheese in the sand. Those in prison may only be suspected collaborators, etc. In the end, you have to think about this from all sides and realize that each news medium has it's own agenda. If you want to show the war in a bad light, it's easy to take reports/facts out of context and lead your viewers to unsupported conclusions...Just ask Michael Moore.
When I was referencing the Kurds, I wasn't talking about their freedom. I was referencing the relatives of the thousands of Kurds that Hussein gassed using those non-existent WMDs. I am quite sure that they are happy to be out from under Hussein's brutal thumb.
At days end, this problem is bigger than us sitting here jockeying back and forth. This war will continue for generations, regardless. We can only hope we don't turn the Earth into a wasteland in the process.
OK, off to work, now that I'm late as hell.