"Al Qaeda's ideological claims now have credibility, that the West is waging war against Islam," said Fawaz Gerges, a long-time Middle East analyst. "There is a crusading spirit in the West. It helps shape the Muslim view that the U.S. is trying to control their lives. The U.S. is convinced al Qaeda is an evil-doer. Al Qaeda has convinced Muslims that the U.S. is an evil-doer too."
As Americans, we can react self-righteously. I've lost my cool in dozens of cafe debates with Muslim friends.
Nevertheless, looking far past 9/11 and into the next presidency, there are reasons for hope. Polling consistently shows Muslims' priorities mirror ours: family, economic opportunity and a political system they can participate in. It's just that today they see America as standing in the way of these values, rather than promoting them.
Some of the solutions are straightforward. Shutting Guantanamo Bay and denouncing torture would remove, albeit belatedly, two of the most glaring examples of American hypocrisy.
In Egypt, it means pushing the government to allow a viable opposition, starting with releasing dissidents such as Ayman Nour. More often, the solutions are long-term and complicated.
In Afghanistan, it means accelerating nation-building. No Afghans I know imagined their country would be so unstable seven years after the invasion. In Iran, it means showing Iranian dissidents a way forward short of war.
"Many Muslims are still deeply enamored of America the idea," said Gerges.
For an increasing number of Muslims, America the reality, though, is a disappointment and a threat.
ABC News senior foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto's book, "Against Us," a look into the Arab Muslim view of the United States in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, will be released in bookstores today.