We live in a movie..... and it's not even a very good movie.
The "good guys" are always good and their white hats are unmistakably clean. The "bad guys" are are all pure evil without any patent motivation.
But this is a false image that is manipulated for political effect.
The Wall Street Journal has a very carefully written piece
(they were apparently sued for the last one) looking at the terrorist financing ties of the Saudi based Al Rajhi Bank run by the $12 billion man, Sulaiman Al Rajhi.
You have to read between the lines a little bit, but it seems clear that that the US has not cracked down on this Saudi bank because of its ties to the Saudi royal family.
Al Rajhi was tied into both the BCCI, and "appeared on a list of regular financial contributors to al Qaeda that was discovered in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 2002." This bank was also used to funnel "charity funds" into Fallujah in 2004.The
Pakistanis and the ISI have ties into the Taleban (and most likely Al Qaeda) even today. Private Saudi citizens are bankrolling the insurgency in Iraq, and likely Al Qaeda, and yet these regimes have been bestowed with the white hats of "the good guys."
It's all a lie, and this "good vs. evil" presentation permeates so deeply into our understanding that it's nearly impossible for an honest discussion of terrorism to take place.
In the reality of this piece, George Bush (and his administration) are not heroes, and Iran is no more a villain than Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. We live in a world of Realpolitik, not in an action movie.
We're in a newer kind of war, a far broader complex than we'd ever imagined where state actors utilize the extrastate international entities classed under terrorism to achieve their goals.
The US is trying to battle these threats with a military complex designed to fight the Soviet Army in a standup war on the European plains. That's "the army we have."
In alot of ways, the presentation of the nations involved with terrorism as white hat/black hat is about as egregious and corrosive as the misrepresentations about WMD. It is manipulated and written like a script. The problem is, the script doesn't portray longterm blowback.
(Sorry for the ramble. I don't know where it came from. The WSJ piece on the al Rajhi bank is quite good, but it's tough to find a solid excerpt. I'd recommend it for a full read.