...this war will not be won just in swift campaigns but through long persistence. ...The real reason persistence is required is because it is precisely this virtue that our enemies doubt we possess.
The Islamists remember that the world's other superpower, the Soviet Union, collapsed and retreated after ten years of resistance in Afghanistan. They don't properly understand the cause of that collapse, or the fact that it had little to do with Afghanistan or with the mujahideen, nor do they understand the profound differences between the United States and the Soviet Union. And precisely because they do not understand all of those issues, they hope to repeat what they think they accomplished in Afghanistan: that if they can just manage to survive through ten years of bloody losses, the enemy will collapse and disappear.
We have to keep fighting the Islamists over a period of years, because we are trying to reverse a twenty-five year record of refusing to fight them prior to September 11. They remember the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, Beirut in 1983, Somalia in 1993, the inadequate response to the embassy bombings in 1998 and the non-existent response to the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. They looked at these and other acts of American retreat in the face of Islamic terrorism, and they believed that these acts gave them the measure of the American character--an impression that can only be reversed by a decade or more of American persistence.