I would imagine that in terms of the quotation by Chi Li, one's destruction is brought about by one's failure to act or fight back. Had the girls that were eaten by the snake found a way to fight it, even overcome the serpent, perhaps one or two might have died, but the others would have survived in killing the serpent.
In terms of Iraq and Iran, if we apply what Chi Li writes, we might assume that he would require that instead of being fearful and giving up to be vanquished, Americans would have to take steps to protect themselves rather than falling prey to potential enemies.
In Iraq, it was important to ascertain whether there were, indeed, weapons of mass destruction. Had the Iraqi goverment had these kinds of weapons, the chance of nuclear warfare was much higher. Waiting for something to happen would be like the girls hesitating rather than subduing and/or killing the dangerous serpent.
Polls of U.S. citizens also had similar concerns about Iran and its suspected building of nuclear weapons:
...it was more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action than to avoid military conflict.
In both situations, Chi Li would suggest a more offensive move than a defensive move, joining to overcome a threat and be proactive: with a better chance for survival and less chance for victimization.