The arrest of Arid Uka, an immigrant from Kosovo, for the shooting of two U.S. servicemen reminds of us of a few more truths about the dangerous world we live in.
Chief among these: We really are in a “global war,” whatever the White House says. Al Qaeda has sought allies and fellow travelers wherever it can find them, from Fort Hood, Texas, to a high-rise in a poor area of Frankfurt, Germany, to the battlefields of Afghanistan. Not acknowledging the nature of the war actually empowers America’s enemies -- who see our unwillingness to recognize this war for what it is as an act of cowardice.
If their enemies refuse to wear the mantle of warrior, terrorists assume that they are weak, lacking in honor, and spiritually inferior -- and the notion that their enemy is vulnerable emboldens them.
Failing to acknowledge that we are at war only encourages the enemy to be more warlike.
The second truth brought home by this incident is the reminder that this is, above all, a war of ideas. That the mind of a citizen of Kosovo could be so easily twisted to hate Americans is deeply troubling. It was after all, the men and women of the American armed forces who saved the lives of countless Muslims in Bosnia and conflict, helped bring an end to civil war, policed the peace and eventually brought independence to Kosovo.
Furthermore, the tragic truth is that most of the innocents slaughtered in this Long War have been Muslims killed by other Muslims. Even in Iraq, where the U.S. has turned the country over to a legitimately elected government, agents of al Qaeda continue to perpetrate barbarous acts of terrorism against the Iraqi people. The U.S. and its allies cannot win the war of ideas by standing on the sidelines, while al Qaeda and its ilk spread their lies.
Third, never forget this war is also online. According to news reports, Uka was friends on Facebook with several pro-al Qaeda extremists from a group based in Bonn, Germany. That isn’t surprising. Terrorists and extremists use the Internet for recruiting, propaganda, fundraising and organizing operations.
Fourth, we cannot forget that there is no substitute for victory. As long as al Qaeda and its allies continue to operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they are a symbol for a global campaign of violence against innocents. Establishing a government in Afghanistan that can stand and defend itself and rooting out al Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan are key to winning the Long War.
James Jay Carafano is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @JJCarafano.