Is it war or just noise?

During the Reagan administration, Herbert Meyer was Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. Steve Hayward notes that in 1983, when the Cold War was still regarded almost unamimously as a fixture in global affairs, Meyer predicted that the Soviet Union was in its final stages. He argued that the U.S. therefore should begin planning for a post-Soviet world.
Earlier this week, Meyer turned his forecasting skills to the present situation. He noted that there are two competing views about the post-9/11 world: (1) that we’re at war with radical Islam and (2) that we’re simply experiencing high levels of violence as a result of our values and policies. Under the first view, we should strive for victory and avoid defeat on battlegrounds such as Iraq. Under the second view, we should merely try to reduce episodes of terrorism while adjusting our values and policies.
Meyer subscribes to the first view, but finds the second view to be prevailing now. Meyer takes the long view, however. Events will either confirm his view that radical Islam is at war with us, or they won’t. In the former case, we’ll finally start fighting to win, and will succeed. In the latter case, we won’t and will not need to.
One danger, of course, is that we won’t be forced to awake until it’s too late. However, Meyer is optimistic enough to believe that even a “horrific” punch “won’t knock us out.”
But what about the other danger, that the horrific punch will only restore us to the semi-conscious state of the past few years?
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