Jim Miles: Zbigniew Brzezinski

By Jim Miles

I initially came across Zbigniew (with the ‘w’ pronounced as an ‘f’) Brzezinski’s new title “Second Chance” while watching the Jon Stewart show on-line.[1]  During the interview, Brzezinski gave the impression of a kindly caring grandfatherly type in his concerns about where America is going with its foreign policy. He indicated that Americans have to “make some sacrifices” for leadership, that America must “make some effort to adjust to the inequalities that prevail in the world”, doing so with “humility and social responsibility.” He views Bush as suffering from “Manichean paranoia” which he explained to Jon Stewart means “he is leading the forces of good against an empire of evil”[2]  Brzezinski continues this dualism identifying Bush’s view (as well as Michael Ignatieff’s and many others) that being “morally superior…justifies us committing immoral acts.” 

The war in Afghanistan according to Brzezinski was “the moment of global solidarity which we then squandered by a war of choice in Iraq.” Which is where I will leave the interview and consider how grandfatherly kindly he really is.  Is this not the man who brought us most of what is wrong with Afghanistan today, as admitted in his own words?

“We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”[3] 

Brzezinski was the mind behind the CIA interventions in Afghanistan that led to the Soviet invasion, and he was the mind behind using the Islamic fundamentalists, the mujahideen, as a weapon against the Soviet occupation – not that he truly cared about the occupation, but that it provided a means to weaken the Soviet empire.  Interesting how those words “demoralization and breakup” have a new significance today.  And if one adds Iran to the current mix, “at that time in the final days of the revolution, when the Shah was considered doomed no matter what the outcome of the revolution came to be, Brzezinski still advocated a U.S. invasion to stabilize Iran.”[4] 

Returning to the Jon Stewart interview, Brzezinski has had some change of heart or mind, saying that America could have a second chance “but we have to survive the next twenty months without the war in Iraq expanding, drawing us into conflict elsewhere nearby, specifically in Iran.”  If not, he is worried that the next twenty years will involve a war spread throughout Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (although he did not bring Syria, Palestine/Israel, and Lebanon into this scenario, which could, while we are into conjecture, draw in Egypt and Arabia in the west and Turkey in the north and then…I think you see where this is heading.)  So he is not really worried about the people of the Middle East, nor is he worried so much about democracy and freedom, what is really worrying him is the “end of American supremacy.”

Pardon me for skipping my time lines around, but that led back to a previous book by Brzezinski (which I have read) titled “The Choice”[5], published just after the Iraq invasion in 2004. There are within this work many reasonable statements, but the choice actually comes down to two main components.

First, is the choice to have the U.S. rule as global hegemon.

Secondly, is the choice to have the U.S. rule as global hegemon.

The distinguishing factor, for American eyes, is that one is a friendly hegemon, and the other is a not friendly hegemon.  Unfortunately, both can be equated to the sujugation of people and their democratic ideals – which often conflict with American democratic ideals – the control of their resources and markets for the hegemonic homeland, and, even admitted by Brzezinski himself, not surprisingly, oil.

Once again, democratic idealism, freedom, and stability render down to strategic control of oil:

“American-Eurpean cooperation in promoting a stable and democractic Iraq and in advancing Israeli-Palestinain peace…would create more favorable political preconditions for addrressing the unsatisfactory strategic equation that prevails in the oil- and natural-gas-producing [sic] areas of the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the Caspian Basin….strategic domination over the area, even if cloaked by cooperative arrangements, would be a globally decisive hegemonic act.”[6]

I have read this several times, reassuring myself that it is not taken out of context – it is as blatant a statement as it appears. 

It follows on his attempts to rationalize why America should accelerate the peace process  within Palestine/Israel, which in sum again boils down to strategic hegemony over Arab oil.  The Arab countries obviously cannot handle their own oil, just as the Palestinian/Israelis “left to themselves…have been unable to bridge their lingering differences or transcend their embittered suspicions.”  Left to themselves?  Is that why the U.S. has supported the Israelis with many billions of dollars in technical and military support throughout the decades, why they have not supported Security Council measures against Israel and voted against many UN General Assembly censures of Israeli activities in Palestinian territory, starting with the ‘nakba’ and currently ongoing with the euphemistic fence, the latter declared illegal by the International Court?

In contradicting his own statement on being left alone, he says the U.S. has “been committed historically [to Israel] for more than half a century for very good historical and moral reasons.”[7] Those escape me momentarily…ah yes, here it is, “it would disarm the most likely trigger for a regional explosion…to address the region’s security problems without seeming [emphasis added] to embark on an anti-Islamic crusade…to facilitate American efforts to promote the progressive democratization of…Arab states without appearing [emphasis added], in Arab eyes, to exploit the democratization issue as yet another pretext for delaying a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian accommodation.”  The reader can now loop back up to the quote on oil which was the next reason provided by Brzezinski.

What does Brzezinski’s “accommodation” look like?  It includes the “incorporation of the suburban settlements of Jerusalem” into Israel, “a nominal or symbolic right of return”, “a demilitarized Palestine, perhaps with NATO or other international peacekeepers”, and finally “comprehensive, unequivocal recognition of Israel by its Arab neighbors.”  In sum, Palestine must role over and play dead, and the Israelis get what they want, except for perhaps a few stray Arabs still roaming the streets of Israel proper.

Expressed otherwise:  the Palestinians are kicked out of Jerusalem, their spiritual capital; they have NATO forces (more American hegemony) keeping them under control (and what about a disarmed Israel, no more American guns and ammo, no nuclear weapons?); and while the ‘Arab neighbors’ are to recognize this American-Israeli domination and subjugation of Palestine, there is not ‘comprehensive, unequivocal recognition’ of Palestine by Israel or America.  It doesn’t work, Mr. Brzezinski.

Allow me one last update, a very recent column by Brzezinski in the Washington Post, where he discusses terror and Muslims.  On the first he indicates “Constant reference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear.”[8] This denies the culture of fear that has been paramount in American exploitation and hegemonic control since at least the Spanish War, readily arguable even longer than that – fear of blacks, fear of Bolsheviks, socialist, communists, now terrorists, Muslims, and those nasty illegal chicano immigrants.

He defines this terrorism as “not an enemy but a technique of warfare — political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.”  Somehow he does not get around to recognizing that as a ‘technique’ used by all empires throughout time, including the many U.S. military actions ranging from the settlement of the mythical American west, through all sorts of interventions in Spanish speaking America, Asia, Africa, and now on into the final frontier of strategic control, the Middle East.  You are as guilty as the rest, Mr. Brzezinski. 

In the same article he defines the anger of the Muslims as “For Muslims, the similarity between the rough treatment of Iraqi civilians by the U.S. military and of the Palestinians by the Israelis has prompted a widespread sense of hostility toward the United States in general.”  But that is his limit.  There is no discussion of the Arab recognition of the denial of democracy historically, via aiding and abetting Saddam Hussein, through the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government in Iran, and the increasingly more empirical military designs on the strategic control of oil.  Yes, what he wrote is true, it is just a very limited – and therefore dissimulating – definition of that hostility.  

His final statement from that recent column is concise, concerning America’s role, “Let us be true to our traditions.”  The traditions of rhetoric, of what you say not matching what you do? The tradition of an ever-expanding military empire?  Perhaps the Americans should do as the most of the rest of the world would wish they would do, go home. 

But Brzezinski has an answer for that as well, as “Any such withdrawal would without doubt plunge the world almost immediately into a politically chaotic crisis,”[9] as perhaps is happening in South America where those illiterate peasants are ignorantly electing socialist governments who are delivering increased social services and reforms for health, education, resource ownership, and land ownership, and trying to get out from under the clutches of the IMF and World Bank financial hegemony.  Is that the chaos you see, Mr. Brzezinski? 
Let’s give it a try.

For someone who insists that he does not want to be “jingoistic or panic mongering”[10], Brzezinski succeeds at both quite well.   He wants a world strategically controlled by a U.S. hegemon.  Many of us don’t want to give the U.S. a “second” chance, you have had far too many already.  Having heard what you said on Jon Stewart, and then putting together the contradictions and sleight of word used in your other presentations, I won’t give “Second Chance” even a first chance. 

-Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles.  His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government


[1] http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml
[2] although the original Manicheans viewed good and evil as coexisting in a yin-yang type symbiosis, with everyone having to confront their own evil to achieve their own good for spiritual unity.
[3] Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski,  Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zbigniew_Brzezinski
[5] Brzezinski, Zbigneiw.  The Choice – Global Domination or Global Leadership.  Basic Books, New York, 2004.
[6] Ibid, p. 71-72.
[7] Speech by Zbigniew Brzezinski, at a conference on “New American Strategies for Security and Peace”. Washington, D.C. October 28, 2003. http://www.prospect.org/webfeatures/2003/10/brzezinski-z-10-31.html
[8] Zbigniew Brzezinski.  “Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’ How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America.” Washington Post, Sunday, March 25, 2007.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032301613.html
[9] Brzezinski, The Choice, ibid, p. 17.
[10] Ibid, p. 5.

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