I was 14 years old and knew nothing of the barbarism of Muslim fundamentalism; but I did know that you can't impose civilization through the barrel of a gun, especially when "civilization" is utterly entwined with Great Power imperialism.
Frankly, if I'd known then what I know now, I'd have hoped to be wrong; but that hope wouldn't have changed my prediction.
And so it is now: I really hope I'm wrong about what I think will happen during the November presidential elections in the United States of America.
Relatively speaking, I like Barack Obama. Among a tiny minority of US senators, he voted against the American invasion of Iraq, at the time an act of great political courage. He strikes me as a man of integrity and intelligence; a political realist but not a cynic. I think an Obama presidency would be good for the United States and for the world.
But he's not going to win the election.
He's not even going to come close.
Back during one of the early primaries, I predicted he was going to beat Clinton ("Hillary" to those of you who call some public figures by their first name and others by their last). I said that America had changed, and race was no longer the factor it once was.
I was wrong. Race is no longer (much of) a factor for Democrat activists. Towards the end of the primaries, after it was clear that Clinton couldn't win, but before she dropped out, I began to wonder about the US as a whole and, quietly, began to think there was no way Obama could be elected president.
A recent poll convinced me I was right. John McCain's cynical but brilliant choice of a woman, as his running-mate was the master-stroke.
If the CNN story, that 30% of Clinton's supporters are going to vote for McCain, is true (or even close to it), Obama doesn't have a chance in hell.
The elephant in the room is race, is skin colour. Half-white, Barack Obama is still "black" and there are one hell of a lot of Americans who — no matter what they say in public or even what they tell themselves — will be unable to pull a lever for a "nigger" as president.
Couple that with the aging second-generation cohort of feminists who thought — it's time, damn it! — that Hillary Clinton was going to take the White House on behalf of the "second sex" and who will vote for anyone but Obama out of spite, and the fix is on.
McCain may be a liar; McCain may not know much about the economy; McCain might even be in the early stages of senility, but he's not black — he's white.
And the United States' racial divide will reveal itself in the voting booth. John McCain is going to have the largest presidential landslide since the war criminal, common criminal and general liar Richard Nixon destroyed George McGovern is '72.
This will be a disaster for the people of the United States and for the people of the world. I don't want it to happen. But unless McCain has a stroke onstage during one of the presidential debates, he's going to walk away with the election.
By naming a woman as his running-mate, he's guaranteed it.
I haven't yet watched Obama's acceptance speech; once I have, it's conceivable I'll take back everything I said above.
And I hope I do.
But I'm not holding my breath.
God help us all.