Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Zbig Brzezinski - a political monster or a hero?

 Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin engages U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in a game of chess at Camp David  (Wiki)

Zbigniew Brzezinski's recent death sparked a lot of diametrically opposing commentaries. In Poland he is praised as a hero for being the first after Winston Churchill to have guts to stand up to the Soviets. In the West, many of the liberal commentators view him as a globalist as a manipulator who engineered and later encouraged the modern day plague of Islamic Fundamentalism.

What were Brzezinski's political views?


Financial Times
Zbigniew Brzezinski, US national security adviser, 1928-2017
(Note: Financial Times' links do not work - search the article title instead)

Right-hand man to President Carter from Iran hostage crisis to Salt Two arms treaty

Brzezinski, who has died at the age of 89, was far from his predecessor’s doppelganger, but his record in office can stand fair comparison. On his watch, under President Jimmy Carter, the US normalised relations with China, severing ties with Taiwan in the process, signed the Salt Two arms treaty with the Soviet Union, brought Egypt and Israel together in the Camp David accords and concluded the Panama Canal treaty, ceding control to Panama. In each decision he was an influential player.
On the downside, the US was caught flatfooted by the Khomeini revolution in Iran, allowing the deposed Shah refuge in the US, which eventually led to the Iran hostage crisis, a factor in Mr Carter’s election defeat in 1980. Brzezinski was also instrumental in arming the Afghan mujahideen after the Soviet invasion of 1979, a policy that came back to haunt the US two decades later (to prove his point, flamboyantly, he was photographed in the Khyber Pass pointing a rifle across the border).

In another departure, hardly surprising given his own background and his president’s natural inclinations, Brzezinski placed human rights far higher up the policy agenda than had previously been the case. That constituted a significant departure from standard US policy, which tended to tolerate, as in General Pinochet’s Chile, human rights abuses in return for fealty to the US.

After leaving office, he became, not unlike Dr Kissinger, a prolific commentator and author on foreign policy, but without ever quite achieving his predecessor’s level of access. He broke with the Democratic Party and endorsed President George H W Bush in 1988 and was critical of Bill Clinton’s long reluctance to intervene in the Balkans in the 1990s. But he was a fierce critic of the younger President Bush’s war in Iraq and fulsome in his praise of Barack Obama, even though he was never admitted into his policy circle.

An engaging conversationalist and avid tennis player, he is survived by his wife, the sculptor Emilie Benes, two sons and a daughter, Mika, the TV news host, who announced his death on Friday.

Another interesting article, Brzezinski's view on Trump.

Towards a Security Web by Zbigniew Brzezinski

Brzezinski: America’s Global Influence Depends On Cooperation With China (12/23/2016)

The danger I see is provoking antagonism in this foremost relationship of American foreign policy without any significant strategic accomplishment. It is not in our interest to antagonize Beijing. It is much better for American interests to have the Chinese work closely with us, thereby forcing the Russians to follow suit if they don’t want to be left out in the cold. That constellation gives the U.S. the unique ability to reach out across the world with collective political influence.