Glenn Greenwald reasserts the backlash thesis:
Obviously, religious fanaticism plays a role in causing people to be willing to give up their own lives, but so constant and consistent is this claimed rationale from Terrorists -- we're doing this in retaliation for U.S. actions in the Muslim world -- that it should no longer be questioned or doubted what principally motivates these attacks. It's one thing for Americans to argue that we have the right to engage in these actions, that we are justified in doing them, or that we somehow are doing Good Things for Muslims with our bombs and drones even though these primitive ingrates don't realize it. But it's another thing entirely to act shocked, surprised or confused when our endless (and still-escalating) stream of bombings, invasions, occupations, and other means of control in their part of the world end up provoking a desire to retaliate and return the favor. It's not just expected that our actions will produce these reactions, but inevitable. It's the most basic part of human nature there is.
As always, the issue is not justification -- it is inherently unjust to deliberately target civilians with violence -- but causation... The very idea that we're going to spend an entire decade dropping a constant stream of bombs and other munitions on and in multiple Muslim countries and otherwise interfere in their governments -- and then expect that nobody will try to attack us back -- evinces such a child-like sense of imperial entitlement that it's hard to put into words.
The fact is that the average American can't even fathom the fact of innocent Muslims killed by Americans because when these errors are made they seldom appear in the newspaper or on the nightly news alongside photographs. This is true of casualties on our own side too. The sanitization of the War on Terrorism is a striking avoidance of reality, whatever one thinks of its justification or root causes. That's why we try on the Dish to provide these images - the kind of images that gave Michael Ware PTSD and that actually make up this abstract war so many of us don't ever fully see.
And therefore don't fully understand. One small note: what will you learn nothing about in Bob Woodward's book on Obama's Afghanistan war? Afghanistan.