In this post September 11 world we live in, terrorism is such an ill-defined, emotionally charged issue, that rarely gets discussed rationally anymore.
In the early weeks after Septermber 11, the question of "Why they hate us" was systematically raised by U.S. media. As the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, this discourse all but died out, and has not been revisited since. At least not in the USA.
There is a glimpse of hope elsewhere though. The International Summit of Democracy, Terrorism and Security is underway in Spain.
The summit is discussing the causes for terrorism, beyond the idiotic declarations that is caused by "good vs. evil" or because terroists "hate freedom and democracy". There are many real life, often hard to tackle problems that cause terrorism. These include poverty, the occupation of Palestine, intolerance, political stagnation.
On confronting terrorism, the conference rejects the heavy handed approach of the U.S., which ironically only serves to create more future terrorists by its belligerent attitude in world affairs. Even before that, the regimes in the Middle East have treated terrorism as a police and security issue, and showed no interest at all in probing for the causes, let alone finding ways to eradicate those causes. A soft approach focusing on the causes would be more successful and more of a long term solution. An analogy for the use of war to fight terrorism would be the use of amputation to solve any medical problem anyone has! Let alone the use of antibiotics, surgery, and before those, a preventive approach by following sanitary practices.
The conference also discusses the democratic responses to terrorism. An observation I like to make is that most terrorists nowadays come from countries where there is despotism, dictatorship, and no peaceful means of participation in politics is available. When people lose hope, some will snap and do crazy things. One should remember that both Bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri were from affluent families in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Both were politically excluded, and either imprisoned or have their citizenship revoked when they tried to push back at dictatorship. Hence, the best prevention for terrorism is participation by those excluded.
See the coverage in the BBC and Associated Press.