No enemy of the U.S. in the last 40 years has had as dim a view of American willpower as neo-conservatives do. To hear them tell the tale, U.S. foreign policy has been one long series of impotent withdrawals.
Here, for example, is Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, in a letter, obtained by the AP, responding to questions from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) about Pentagon contingency planning for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq:
Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.
Haunted by this dark narrative of failure, the neo-cons are bound and determined not to repeat the weak-willed mistakes of the recent past. Why, even the very discussion of how to get out of this mess will embolden our enemies and undermine our own resolve. Instead, we must march in lockstep forward, chins jutting ahead, ignoring all of the distractions which could so easily turn us into quivering Jello.
How thankful we should be to have brave men like Eric Edelman to stifle debate, to lash us in our moments of weakness, and to encourage us to be oblivious to the reality all around us. Then and only then can we achieve America's true greatness.
If, god forbid, we were to fail, it will not be on account of such noble examples as Eric Edleman. No, it will be the fault of the weak-minded among us, besotted by our culture of tolerance and permissiveness. Men like Eric Edelman can lead, but they cannot make us follow (at least not quite yet--they're working on that). In this, we must do our duty, following without question or reason, without reflection or pause.
Ultimately, as Eric Edelman knows all too well, our own worst enemy is ourselves.
Update: Here's a copy of the letter.