The man who successfully predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union says the world is increasingly dangerous because the U.S. takes less of a leadership role, but he is hopeful President Trump will reverse that trend.
Herbert E. Meyer served as special assistant to CIA Director William Casey in the 1980s and also as vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. Around that time, Meyer wrote a classified booklet titled “Why Is the World So Dangerous?” It detailed why he believed the Soviet Union would soon collapse.
Now, Meyer is out with a new, public version of the booklet, explaining why the world is getting increasingly dangerous. In short, when the U.S. recedes, bad actors take advantage.
“I think the reason the world is so dangerous is because, for the first time in our lifetimes, the United States has been stepping away from leadership,” Meyer told WND and Radio America. “We’ve left a power vacuum in the world. It’s like taking the police off the streets. Your city and my city would become dangerous again.”
Meyer continued: “I thought I needed to make that point for a whole new generation. All they’ve heard is that American power is the problem, that if we had a smaller footprint, the world would be a safer place. Well, for the last eight years, we’ve had a smaller footprint. We had a president who thought the United States was too strong, too powerful, played too big a role in the world.
“The result is exactly the opposite of what he said would happen. The world did not become safer. It became more dangerous,” Meyer said.
While being quick to acknowledge many Americans do not want the U.S. to be the policeman of the world, Meyer said strength abroad almost always means strength at home and vice versa.
“There’s a growing sense politically that we have to step aside and we’ve played too big a role,” Meyer said. “Once you do that, you’re giving up your foreign policy. What we’ve learned from experience is when you are weak in foreign policy, it also affects your domestic policies.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Herbert E. Meyer:
Thus far, he believes President Trump and his national security team are thinking about the world largely along the same lines.
In his booklet, Meyer stresses a couple of simple themes, including the need to return to making policy and decisions based upon what he calls hard thinking, instead of the soft thinking that pervades so much of American politics today.
“In hard thinking, you deal with facts,” Meyer explained. “You deal with numbers. In soft thinking, you deal more and more in emotions or with feelings.”
He continued: “This is Republicans and Democrats. It’s not just one party. We’ve become a bunch of soft thinkers. Not everyone, but more and more we deal with our feelings and emotions and things. Nobody’s looking at the numbers. Nobody’s looking at the facts.”
As a result, Meyer said politicians are no longer leaders; they’re just marketers who figure out what they think the American people want and then promise it to get elected.
In addition, he said the American people have changed drastically over the past 30 to 40 years in terms of fewer people being married, far more babies being born out of wedlock and one-sixth of working-age men simply not seeking work.
“We’ve changed,” Meyer said. “We’re not the same people we were. We don’t always elect the same leaders we used to elect. The result is the world’s a more dangerous place because it all depends on the United States.”
Another thing that must change, according to Meyer, is that the U.S. must stop playing defense against the world’s threats all of the time and begin playing offense. He said the burgeoning nuclear weapons programs in North Korea and Iran are clear examples of playing too much defense.
“These are two cases of nuts with nukes,” Meyer said. “Maybe I’m just getting old, but my tolerance for lunatics with nuclear bombs has dropped to about zero. Let’s give the Trump people a chance to get organized. They may turn out to be very, very good on this. But you’re letting lunatics develop nuclear bombs. That’s defense.
“China wages cyber warfare against the United States, so we try to stop them from doing it. Again, you’re playing defense. We’re not doing something to them. We’re always trying to keep it from getting worse.”
He said that strategy is always bound to fail because America ends up playing on the terms of those who hate it.
“What we learned in the Cold War is never let the other guys make the rules, because then you always lose,” Meyer said.
So what does going on offense look like?
“We have very good programmers in this country, which the Chinese don’t seem to realize,” Meyer said. “Why don’t we point them at China and say, ‘Go have some fun’?”
“If one night, every traffic light in Shanghai turns green, that isn’t my problem. Let the Chinese leaders do it,” suggested Meyer.
“Why don’t we throw every Chinese exchange student out of the United States? These are the sons and daughters of the elite. It’s their parents who are spying on us. Why don’t we throw them out and say, ‘Go home’? Let their parents deal with it,” Meyer said. “Can you imagine what the arrivals hall at Beijing airport is going to look like if we did that?”
Regardless of the tactics, Meyer said targeting the United States must be met with a response that leaves no ambiguity.
“You have to throw it back at them. Don’t say, ‘You can wage cyber warfare against us, and we’ll just try to stop it,'” he said. “No, do something to them where they go, ‘Oh no, maybe we shouldn’t have done that to the Americans.’ That’s the difference.”