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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pour ceux qui veulent connaitre les veritables plans de ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, remplacer le DRS par des generaux soumis a l'OTAN, il est l'artisan du retour de Ait Ahmed et tente de le mettre sur orbite pour 2014. C'est un excellent ami de Lakhdar Brahimi, franc-macon soumis a l'empire, lisez cet article paru en 2004: 'Les Musulmans en France sont des Algeriens, ils ne sont pas Arabes et ils vont nous poser d'enormes problemes!'

Zbigniew Brzezinski At Large, Part One and Two  

BEN WATTENBERG: Hello, I’m Ben Wattenberg. Today, Think Tank is joined by one of the significant voices in American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Dr. Brzezinski served as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, where he played a key role in the 1978 peace accord between Israel and Egypt. He has been a principal advisor on foreign policy and intelligence issues to successive American administrations. Now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, Dr. Brzezinski is the author of many books, including The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives and his just published book The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership.

The Topic Before the House: Zbigniew Brzezinski at Large, Part 1. This Week on Think Tank

BEN WATTENBERG: Zbigniew Brzezinski, welcome to Think Tank.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It’s good to be with you, Ben.

BEN WATTENBERG: I have been reading your new book, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. In fact, I stayed up late last night reading it. It is a very good book, with your characteristic linear thinking, but quite gloomy. And let me go through a couple a the items: ...first you say, you pretty well predict, a major catastrophe from weapons of mass destruction-literally, as you put it, an end-of-the-world scenario; an Armageddon, and pretty soon. I mean, you say a generation or two, I think. I mean, we’ve had now almost sixty years since Hiroshima and we’ve kept the genie in the bottle. Why do you say that?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, first of all, I don’t predict it. And that’s a very important point. What I do say is that it’s now feasible, it’s technically feasible. That is to say we’re reaching a stage in mankind’s history in which means of destruction available to people, to states, or even to groups, are getting to a point in which one could unleash forces that would destroy a country, maybe an entire civilization.

BEN WATTENBERG: And this would be typical...


WATTENBERG: ...of a rogue state somewhere.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well a rogue state, or some sort of a conflict or a provocation. You know, unfortunately things in the world are never black and white; they’re usually much more ambiguous than that and therefore one of the major themes of the book is that American unilateralism, or American domination, does not suffice to avoid these dangers. That America has to exercise a leadership that commands support, that inspires others, because if it doesn’t then these kinds of dangers could become reality. So I repeat, I do not predict an apocalypse by any means. It’s not a pessimistic book but it is a book, which says a certain danger now has manifest and we have the obligation to avoid it.

BEN WATTENBERG: You say that even the American global model of democracy and equality, of which you approve most elegantly, I guess in diplomatic terms--I guess that’s some of the so-called soft power-but, in any event, even that model you say gets people to hate us. Or may get people to hate us.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, it’s connected first of all with feelings of envy which unfortunately are a very natural human condition and secondly with the danger that some of our acts will intensify resentment and magnify, even ignite hatred against us.

BEN WATTENBERG: Are our actions to help encourage the formations of new democracies?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well I wouldn’t put it quite that way. I think there is in our reaction to the acts of terrorism committed against us and in this undifferentiated proclamation of the war against terrorism, which often is equated with war against fundamentalist Islam and sometimes the word fundamentalist even gets forgotten so it’s Islamic terrorism, runs the risk of creating a counter reaction which galvanizes enormous hatred and focuses it on us. So these are the kinds of things we have to be very alert to, given the fact that without us the world becomes unstable. But if we’re not very careful how we exercise our leadership we can become the object of a lot of the potentially increasingly dangerous violence that now is at a stage at which can become massively destructive.

BEN WATTENBERG: You were quite critical of President Bush’s and the administration’s actions on homeland security. Yet I mean, as you know, the acts of 9/11 were unprecedented. What are you supposed to do except take harsh measures? It was an attack on our homeland, and as you point out bigger and better ones, bigger and worse ones, may be coming right down the line at us.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Yes, but harsh measures is not necessarily the most intelligent response. The harsh measures produce only harshness. In other words you want measures that are effective; that deal with the problem. Go back historically for a minute, and I know you’re a great student of history. You know, we took harsh measures in the past - the sedition acts, the interment of the Japanese.

BEN WATTENBERG: And we cut off immigration...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: ...some of the hysteria in various stages of our history. They were harsh, but they weren’t necessarily effective. So harshness is not a justification. What worries me about some of the measures taken essentially are two things. One: are we really running the risk of crossing the borderline between prudent but constitutionally responsible reactions and panicky and maybe not even fully constitutional/quasi constitutional reactions. And that’s a serious problem.

BEN WATTENBERG: And your view sort of leans toward the...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, I think some aspects of the Patriot Act give me pause. Secondly, I’m not sure that throwing money at a security problem, and creating a huge security bureaucracy, is the response, because ultimately you can’t protect everything and you are just spending a lot of money trying to protect everything which means that you’re really spreading yourself thin and you create an atmosphere of anxiety, which the enemy can abet even by stimulating periodic alarms. What, in my view, is a far more effective response...

BEN WATTENBERG: I mean these groundings of these flights from Europe to America is a tremendous economic blow to us, even though nobody did anything except maybe make a phone call or do some e-mailing.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: And it may be even deliberately...

BEN WATTENBERG: Right, right.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: ...because these people are not stupid and they’re beginning to see us issuing these alerts or having electronic signs over the highways, like on the beltway around Washington, where you see signs flashing at you,'report suspicious activity'. What does that say to the population? It stimulates anxiety; it doesn’t do anything to the enemy.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But there is one more point...


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: ...about protecting everything, namely, if you are really interested in protecting everything, what you really need is much better intelligence.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: And one of the things I argue in my book is that for every ten bucks spent on homeland security, one buck spent on better intelligence is a much better deal.

BEN WATTENBERG: And you are in favor of human rather than technological intelligence. You think that’s where we’re short?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I think our technological intelligence is very good. I know for a fact that our human intelligence is very poor and I think what happened with regards to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq illustrates that dramatically. Iraq was a country that was actually pervasive. You could penetrate it - permeable. We knew just very, very embarrassingly little and that’s been an embarrassment to the United States and to the administration.

BEN WATTENBERG: And yet we were on record as saying they had them and Chirac and the French were on record as saying they had them and the Russians were on the record as saying - I mean there’s this long list which you’ve seen. Everybody thought it. It wasn’t just the Americans.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: You know, it’s a little more qualified than that, Ben.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: First of all, the others who were saying it were also saying 'let’s check it out. We have time. The inspectors are looking and let’s see what they say.' And they don’t seem to be finding anything. Maybe there’s something to that because the record in the past was pretty good actually. So they are far more patient than we. Secondly, don’t underestimate the impact on others of us proclaiming that the Iraqis have them. Because the fact of the matter is that historically we were trusted. When Kennedy said to the world, 'there are Russian missiles with nuclear weapons in Cuba', everybody believed us because we had a record of credibility. So when President Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, all of them flatly said they have weapons of mass destruction, everybody was inclined to believe them. I was too, although I became increasingly skeptical.

BEN WATTENBERG: Did you support the war at that time?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I believed we had to do something about Iraq and I said that immediately after 9/11. But I also argued very strongly that we with others, emulate what we did in ’91 - that is to say build a genuine alliance to act if necessary but impose pressure on them through the U.N., and there’s no need to rush because the evidence for an imminent danger is practically nonexistent. That was my position. But what we need to do, in my view, is to have much better intelligence if we want to have more security, not spend forty billion dollars a year on homeland security which as all these false alarms indicate is very manipulable.

BEN WATTENBERG: But establishing human intelligence in countries - in authoritarian, autocratic dictatorships, where you can lose your life pretty easily--this is a long-term project. This is not something... let’s get a thousand human intelligence people...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well of course. Of course. We should have been doing this for years. I have felt for a long time now that this is an area of weakness and we are paying the price. But there’s an alternative to it. You know, if we’re going to position ourselves strategically into a posture in which we preempt on suspicion - I repeat, preempt on suspicion - we’re going to isolate ourselves totally in the world; we’ll destroy our credibility totally - it’s badly damaged already - and we’ll precipitate reactions against us that are going to be seriously dangerous to our security.

BEN WATTENBERG: Well, but President Bush says you can’t sit back and wait for them to hit us and then say 'we’re gonna get you'. The whole idea is we don’t want to get hit...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: So you , in other words if I suspect you’re about to hit me...


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Yes, but if I suspect you’re about to hit me, I should hit you right now? I mean, you know, at some point suspicion has to be founded on something. It can’t be simple as the president now says 'Well he was a madman.' Before we had a theory of an imminent danger. He has weapons; he’s about to attack us. Later we said...

BEN WATTENBERG: He never used the word imminent. They’re very proud of that.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Look, he said we are confronted with a mortal danger - those are the words. 'Mushroom cloud' was used to justify going to war. He has weapons that are the most destructive mankind has ever devised. Those are the actual quotes. Now after that they said, well, he didn’t have them but he had the intent. Now we say he was a madman. So shifting from hard evidence to presumption of intention and now to some psychological analysis. Are we going to go around attacking countries...

BEN WATTENBERG: Well, and...

BRZEZINSKI: ...on that basis?

BEN WATTENBERG: Now, we’re making the case that the establishment, even of a partial democracy in Iraq would have been worth the cost of this war, because it could change the whole Middle East.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well if it changes the whole Middle East, if it leads to some genuine stability, yes. But that requires moving not only on Iraq; that requires addressing actively the Palestinian/Israeli problem; it requires some movement in relations with Iran; it requires some gradual evolution in Egypt and Saudi Arabia because it’s precipitous. It’s going to be hurtful to our interests actually but I don’t see that happening and even then one has to ask ones self on what basis can a country attack another country if it isn’t threatened? You know, some sort of, half-baked theory of democratization doesn’t give anybody a right to attack anybody. You know, otherwise we’ll have a situation of global anarchy if we keep acting like this.

BEN WATTENBERG: Well you mention frequently in the book getting some kind of an Israeli/Palestinian compromise. Now I understand, I think, what you want from the Israelis, which is to give up the settlements, but what are the Palestinians supposed to do as their share of the compromise?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well obviously there has to be absolute peace between them. No violence, no terrorism. Demilitarization of the Palestinian state, etcetera, etcetera.

BEN WATTENBERG: If they’re not willing, I mean, so far they say they’re not willing to...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well the problem is each side has conditions for the other to meet without meeting their own conditions. I read an essay recently by someone who described both the Palestinian and the Israeli leaderships as failed leaderships. And I think that really catches the essence. Each side is locked into a kind of perspective, which condemns them to mutual antagonism that can only get worse and worse. For the Palestinians: increasing poverty, humiliation and suffering. For the Israelis: a garrison state, in which democracy becomes a fiction, in which Israel is made to look like apartheid South Africa. These are horrible perspectives for both. And unless the United States steps in and really pressed for a breakthrough towards peace and articulates a concept of peace that’s more or less fair and balanced...

BEN WATTENBERG: I mean isn’t that what the so-called roadmap did?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: No, the roadmap only outlines how to get there. But since each distrusts the other, each is sort of inclined to trip the other up while moving forward. We need something like the Geneva Accords, which is that very detailed blueprint for peace contrived by some Israelis and some Palestinians, so that both sides would know where the roadmap is leading. Then you have a chance of getting there.

BEN WATTENBERG: You have written in this as I said very interesting book that what we are up against now is more difficult than what we faced in the Cold War.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, I don’t think it’s a, you know, a very unique insight of mine. Simply during the Cold War we knew who the enemy was and we pretty much what the enemy has. And we increasingly understood what makes the enemy tick. I don’t think we know now who the enemy is. Look at the way it’s defined - terrorism is the enemy. Well, first of all, that’s kind of an absurdity because terrorism is a technique; it’s not an entity. Second we don’t really know who the enemy...

BEN WATTENBERG: But the terrorist who have hit us though ha-have...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: They are people that we are unwilling... I’m very hesitant about saying who they are.

BEN WATTENBERG: Well, they’ve been Arabs.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But they’re Arabs, precisely...

BEN WATTENBERG: ...and not poor Arabs. You say somewhere that the problem with terrorism is it’s...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well there is...some of them are middle class Arabs.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Some of them poor; some of them are middle class.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: And one was very rich.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But the point is we have hesitated to do that because we prefer to have the sort of vague notion of terrorism around the world. In fact, you’re quite right; most of the terrorists are Arabs. The problem is the Middle East. The problem is our presence in Saudi Arabia after ’91; the persistence of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and our identification with it, and us seen as being very partial. The problem is the legacy of colonialism - British, French - and now, seemingly, ours, and in a sense by extension Israeli. All of that is the problem.

BEN WATTENBERG: I mean, the Arabs have done pretty well at killing each other off even without the Israelis. I mean, you have the Egyptians versus the Yemenis and the Libyans and you have the Syrians...


BEN WATTENBERG: ...against the Lebanese...


BEN WATTENBERG: ...and I mean there’s a whole...you have Iraq invading Kuwait and Iran, I mean. It’s not a...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, look. That is nothing new. People all over the world kill each other.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: What is of interest to me is if they try to kill us. And I think what we have the problem - and this is where I come back to the point I made - is we define the problem broadly and vaguely; we don’t want to focus specifically on who the enemy is and we know very little as to what the enemy can do. And we talked about that because of poor intelligence. Take Al Queda. We talk about Al Queda all the time. Every morning when I put on the news there’s always some 'expert' quote, unquote, on terrorism talking about Al Queda and terrorism. We don’t really know. Most Americans today think that Al Queda is some disciplined, well-organized underground terrorist activity. Ashcroft talks about fifty thousand trained terrorists. It’s probably at most fifty thousand people who went through basic training...


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: ...who are not therefore professional terrorists, you know, because they wouldn’t even know how to make a bomb.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: The point is we have this kind of vague notion of who the enemy is and yet the potential threats are in fact quite serious because of technological dynamics and what this means in terms of the possibility of the infliction of destruction.

BEN WATTENBERG: How do you regard the evolving American position on defending and extending human rights and democratic values around the world? In 2003 President Bush gave three big speeches. One at the American Enterprise Institute; one at the National Endowment for Democracies and one at Buckingham Palace, I guess where he really said this is our business, this is our mission, which is to go about extending democracy. Is that an overstatement in your judgment?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I wouldn’t say it’s an overstatement. Of course everything depends on how it’s done. In a sense it’s a continuation, you know, of the position, which was adopted earlier. Human rights was adopted more or less as the sort of flagship on Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy. So...

BEN WATTENBERG: And those of us who worked with Scoop Jackson like to think that it was...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: And Scoop Jackson wasn’t president...


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: ...but was very much pushing it. Absolutely. Yes, so in a sense it reflects a certain American propensity. I think there’s a lot to it. But one has to recognize that democracy if pushed too hard and artificially can produce a reaction which is very adverse. To take an extreme example, if we imposed somehow democracy on Saudi Arabia today and you had an election in which Prince Abdullah was running against Osama bin Laden, who would win? Or in Egypt if Mubarak and the Muslim brotherhood were competing openly, who would win? So you have to create...

BEN WATTENBERG: You think Osama and the Muslim brotherhood would ...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well it very well might because unless the conditions are mature and there’s stability, responsibility, civic consciousness, extremism tends to surface. Democracy can be very, very doctrinaire and intolerant. You have to create a constitutionalism; you have to create the liberal institutions; you have to give people dignity. I mean I’m a little worried for example when I hear some people in the Bush administration say 'no settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians until the Palestinians are a full democracy.' Because that means they remain occupied. If you’re occupied, you’re denied political dignity. You cannot have democracy without political dignity. You have to have a sense of your own freedom to become democratic. So if democracy becomes an excuse for doing some of the things we need to do in the mean time then I don’t consider it to be a program I consider it to be an evasion. But if one is talking more generally about encouraging democracy, constitutionalism, liberalism, yes.

BEN WATTENERG: Looking at your work from another axis, you come out in favor of something called shared national and international interests. And then you also mention the possibility - you say we’re not ready for global government now but it’s something that we might be ready for in a generation or two. And you support the international criminal court. This is not sort of the Brzezinski of old. This is a different perspective on the world, I mean, it doesn’t sound like the hawkish Zbigniew Brzezinski of yore.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: We have defeated the big challenge... a conspiracy, a totalitarian doctrine, an effort to impose uniformity in the world. We won. But we’re now faced with the prospect of global chaos if we’re not careful and we are living in a world which technology makes totally interdependent. And that means either we’ll all suffer some calamity because of interdependence or we create some community of shared interest. It will not be world government, but eventually we’ll have to move towards more and more global institutions that’s just the logic of history, of technological dynamics. And if we can lead it and infuse it with our values - democracy, constitutionalism and so forth--we’ll be performing...

BEN WATTENBERG: ...including an international criminal court...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, why not at some point?

BEN WATTENBERG: ...that could put some of our...General Tommy Franks in jail or something. I mean...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Look. First of all if he committed war crimes I wouldn’t weep if he was, but secondly that’s not going to happen and not immediately.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But as a longer range objective I think it’s absolutely very sensible. We have all sorts of international rules that we accept - a variety of areas...civil aviation, trade, and so forth. So why not military conduct at some point? This is not a prescription for tomorrow, but as an indicator of longer range trends, yes. I think that’s the only alternative to global chaos.

BEN WATTENBERG: Okay, thank you very much, Zbigniew Brzezinski, for joining us on Think Tank. And thank you. Please remember to join us in a future episode for part two of our conversation with Zbigniew Brzezinski. And send us your comments via email. It’s what makes our show better. For Think Tank, I’m Ben Wattenberg.


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BEN WATTENBERG: Hello, I’m Ben Wattenberg. Today, Think Tank is joined by one of the significant voices in American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Dr. Brzezinski served as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, where he played a key role in the 1978 peace accord between Israel and Egypt. He has been a principal advisor on foreign policy and intelligence issues to successive American administrations. Now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, Dr. Brzezinski is the author of many books, including The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives and his just published book The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership.

The Topic before the House: Zbigniew Brzezinski at Large, Part 2

This Week on Think Tank.

(opening animation)

BEN WATTENBERG: Zbigniew Brzezinski, welcome to Think Tank. I have been reading your new book, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. It is a very good book, but quite gloomy. And let me go through a couple of the items.
You write about the role of American popular culture - the movies and the music and the television and some of the uglier things about it also. And that we sort of no longer even control it ourselves, if we ever did - America has just sort of become part of the world and a very important part. Is that a good thing?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well you put it very well. You said we don’t even control it and I think you’re right. I think we are in a sense in the hands of a Frankenstein that we have created, because this mass culture of ours is partially the product of our preferences; it’s partially the product of a machine that runs on its own. And a lot of it is, at least to my subjective taste, extraordinarily vulgar and pernicious and I think even demoralizing in terms of basic values. And unfortunately we are the purveyors of that. And unfortunately a lot of that defines America to the rest of the world and I’m not too happy about that because I think some of that will bounce against us, in the mean time creating an image of a society that’s hedonistic, opportunistic, materialistic, crude. Without real standards. And the thing that really bothers me the most ultimately is this. I’m increasingly troubled by the fact that in America the only thing that makes us comfortable in saying that something is immoral is if at the same time you can prove that it’s illegal. And if you reduce morality to legality you’ve eliminated morality from human conduct.

BEN WATTENBERG: When you talk to European - when I talk to Europeans these days and when you read about it from some of them, they always say 'well, this anti-American feeling is very complicated', meaning that there’s - I mean there’s a love/hate relationship going on. Is that sort of the way you see it?



ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Oh, absolutely and it’s true not just of the Europeans. I think - let’s take the Muslim world because that’s so much upper most in our minds these days. I have the sense that in most Muslim countries, most people, like to live the way we do. They like our films, they like our movies, they like our decadence. But the hate some things about us, including some of the things we do. So it’s everything about America today in the world is very ambivalent and almost contradictory. It’s clear that we’re distrusted now. It’s clear that our policies are disliked. But it’s also clear that America’s kind of a miracle land for a lot of people at the same time.

BEN WATTENBERG: You say that the demographic pressures in the world today can turn illegal immigration into violent migrations. What do you mean by that?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well I mean by that the increasing pressures from the highly underdeveloped parts of the world, but overpopulated parts of the world, on the areas of prosperity, in some cases islands of prosperity. Take one sort of dramatic example, which is very much in my mind, because it has geopolitical implications. If you look at the map of Eurasia, let’s say everything east of the Urals from the Arctic Sea through the Urals down to the Caspian Sea down to Iran.

BEN WATTENBERG: Is that your arc of crisis?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, no but everything east of that.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: North of it - Siberia, the Russian Far East, thirty-five million people. Thirty-five million people. Everything south of that line from Iran all the way to the end of China, three and a half billion... and growing. And you’re a great student of demographics. That’s going to increase dramatically in the next twenty years. The point is, it’s not sustainable. The pressure in Europe, the number of immigrants the Europeans need and in some cases they want to let in. These are all pressures that at some point can become quite violent.

BEN WATTENBERG: There are intense feelings of literally hatred against the illegal immigrants in Europe, and I guess even more so in Japan. And in Europe it’s for obvious reasons, particularly directed at the Arabs and the Muslims which is where their primary...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well the Muslims but there aren’t that many Arabs in Europe actually. There are Turks...

BEN WATTENBERG: Well in France there are.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well they’re Algerians.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Algerians, but they’re not Arabs.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Algerians, Moroccans but also Turks in Germany. You’re quite right. Yes. There’s a lot of hatred but look, even in the United States the attitude towards Hispanics is ambivalent.




ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: They do things that most of us unfortunately are not willing to do, but there’s a lot of resentment and a feeling of unease, desire to pull up the drawbridge and so forth. It’s going to be a problem.

BEN WATTENBERG: You mention that India, which I regard--I’m writing about demographics and economics of the less developed countries--which I regard as one of the great success stories and just coming into its own now, you say it may implode over ethnic violence. And yet in fact we have some Indian scholars that we deal with here at the American Enterprise Institute - that’s not their take on the situation. Is that a serious threat?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, it’s my view. That doesn’t make it a serious threat. I could be totally wrong.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I know that the prevailing opinion, not only just the conventional but the prevailing opinion is that India is a secure state. The reason I feel that way is that I am historically very conscious of the role of ethnicity and national identity and that multinational states at some point tend to begin to fragment when the entire population becomes politically activated. My view since the ’50s was that the Soviet Union would implode because it was a multinational empire. I remember having an argument with the Yugoslav foreign minister when I was in the White House, saying to him that after Tito goes Yugoslavia will break up, and he was equally outraged. And most people disagreed with me. I noticed the fact that in India the vast majority of the population still is politically inert, inactive, a very high percentage illiterate. But once they begin to have a sense of their political identify which tends to be associated with ethnicity, language and religion, then the divergences, differences will begin to surface.

BEN WATTENBERG: The Indians claim that because there are literally hundreds of ethnic groups and hundreds of languages and dialects they have no choice but to keep the democrat - I mean it’s been going...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: That’s a very sensible...

BEN WATTENBERG: ... for almost fifty years.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Yes, it’s a very sensible argument. The Soviet Union lasted for seventy.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But you know, that is true of the small groups but there are some large groups and those are the ones that are the most dangerous. First of all a hundred and forty million or so Muslims.


ZBIGNEIW BRZEZINSKI: And the sort of Hindu/Muslim conflict is a serious reality and thousands have already died because of it. Secondly there are a few entities like the 'Tamils, like the Sikhs and others who very well may aspire for separate statehood at some point. Kashmir itself, you know, increasingly the Kashmir’s are saying 'we don’t want to be part of India; we don’t want to be part of Pakistan. We want to have our own state. So I think it’s an open issue.

BEN WATTENBERG: I mean, talking about multiethnic states you write, and again very eloquently, about the large wave of immigration that’s come into the United States from non-European sources in the last forty years I guess, or since 1965. And you are concerned that because so many previous ethnic groups - I mean the Jews, the Greeks, you can just go through a whole - the English - you can go through a whole list - have attempted to influence American diplomacy, that we now are getting so many groups that American diplomacy may end up as a shambles...that everybody’s going to be pulling in separate directions.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Yes. And I know I could add to the list the Cuban-Americans, the Polish-Americans and so forth. And down the line Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans and so forth. Well, that is connected with something which I sense is happening, namely when I was growing up in America there was a kind of drive towards assimilation, which was not coercive; it was more magnetic, but there was a kind of a tendency to assimilate. Now I think we’re moving increasingly into a kind of highly legitimated multiculturalism. You tend to emphasize your antecedents, your origins, your distinctive ...

BEN WATTENBERG: Well those are the people with the loud media megaphones. And I’m not saying they don’t have a real influence. On the other hand you look at the public opinion polls and not only are Americans the most patriotic country in the world, but the immigrants are even more patriotic than the Americans as a whole.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: No that’s quite true. The tendencies are contradictory, but it does mean that increasing a different groups begin to claim almost a veto right regarding foreign policy towards their point of origin or interest. This is clearly very evident with the Jewish community in Israel. And I think it’s probably a fair proposition that right now with regards to policy towards Israel and the Palestinians, the Jewish community has close to a veto right. The same is true of the Cuban-Americans regarding Cuba. The same has been claimed by the central Europeans towards central Europe. Polish-Americans towards Poland. I think we’re beginning to see some of that with the Hispanic-Americans, particularly Mexican-Americans, and before too long I think we’ll see it with the Asian-Americans.

BEN WATTENBERG: The argument, something I once wrote, is that you have to decide, and it’s case by case I guess, whether a given act is in the national interest of America or in the interest of Americans.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: All Americans or some Americans?

BEN WATTENBERG: Well, no - some Americans. I mean but if the totality of Americans are made up of lots of some Americans.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well that’s true, but if these pools become to contradictory and to diversified then simply the making of policy will become a kind of a calculus almost of votes or of setting interests rather than any larger notion of the national interest. Wait until you get Arab-Americans really activated. And once they begin to use money as well as concentrated votes and you will see what will happen to Middle Eastern policy. I’m not sure that’s a healthy development. But I’m not condemning it.

BEN WATTENBERG: But you’re not for cutting back immigration?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: No. No. And I’m not for some coercive assimilation.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I’m simply saying this is now an increasing problem. And our society may find it more difficult to articulate a shared notion of national interest than in the past where everybody either was WASP, and the WASPS dominated, or most people aspired to becoming kind of quasi-WASPS, including changing their names and so forth. Probably was easier then to say this is the national interest. Now it’s much more complex.

BEN WATTENBERG: Neither of us changed our names so that’s...


BEN WATTENBERG: ...that’s right...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But our antecedents probably would have had.

BEN WATTENBERG: You have said that America’s facing its major challenges in an area that you call the global Balkans. Are those the ones you described before, the - the...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Yes, the global Balkans. I mean that area roughly from Suez to China’s western borders--Xin Jiang. From southern Russian frontier all the way down to the Indian Ocean. It’s a large conglomerate of entities, weak states, lots of ethnic, religious conflicts. It’s an area of internal instability, which has a suction affect on external powers much like the European Balkans did in the 19th century.

BEN WATTENBERG: Your priorities or some high priorities are central Asia as we’ve talked about and energy. Where do you come out on the whole energy situation?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I’m not an energy expert, but just using common sense and the knowledge available to all of us, it seems to me evident we’re going to be dependent on natural gas and oil for some decades to come, even if we do things that we need to do. More importantly, not only will we be dependent; Europe is going to be dependent and the Far East - China and Japan--are going to be increasingly dependent. Therefore, for us to have a strong position in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf is not only an economic necessity; it’s potentially a source of enormous strategic leverage on others.

BEN WATTENBERG: You regard - I mean we all talk about terrorists these days, but before 9/11 the big potential threat in the geopolitical community was China. You still regard that as a possibility that that’s a...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I have not argued that China was a threat. I don’t think it is...

BEN WATTENBERG: A potential threat.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well potential threat, yes, in the longer run but it’s going to take quite some time for China to really be a major global power. A regional power, yes, if it continues in its development and is stable. There are some question marks regarding that.

BEN WATTENBERG: Tell me, what do you consider the high points and the low points of your foreign policy career? You came to Washington - I was on the Johnson staff. I remember you coming down there occasionally as an adviser but then you - where - from where? From Harvard or from Columbia?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, first of all - from Columbia - but I also served on the Johnson administration.

BEN WATTENBERG: On the policy planning...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: On the Policy Planning Council in the Department of State.

BEN WATTENBERG: I see. And then under President Carter you were the national security advisor...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: That’s right. I headed the National Security Council staff.

BEN WATTENBERG: What do you consider the high points and the low points of your career?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well if you’re talking of my political career so to speak, I would say the high points clearly were the defeat of the Soviet Union, the success of the policy of peaceful engagement which I advocated and strategized and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Those were clearly the high points. More specifically some things such as Camp David, the first peace treaty ever between Israel and any Arab state; normalization of relations with China where I was very actively involved and in affect on behalf of the president, did it. And the low point clearly the debacle in Iran - the collapse of Iran.

BEN WATTENBERG: The hostages.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: The hostages, sure. Yes. Which I would have handled differently but I didn’t have my way.

BEN WATTENBERG: What would you have done?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I would have tried to impose a military blockade on Iran. Also when we undertook the rescue mission, which I favored, openly. The helicopters. And which I thought had a high probability of success but a reasonable danger of failure. I felt and I said so that if it fails we should immediately combine it with an immediate strike, retaliatory strike against Iran, so we could immediately say that our patience has run out; that we have taken military action to punish them. We undertook a rescue mission, which unfortunately didn’t succeed, and if they harm any hostages our military strike is a preview of what will happen if they hurt anybody. In other words to obscure the failure, and to begin to implement military pressure. That perhaps would have been risky, but I thought we should have done that.

BEN WATTENBERG: Given the circumstances, I guess, at the time and looking back on it in retrospect were we right in giving American support to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan after the...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Oh, yes. Absolutely, because don’t forget the invasion of Afghanistan happened in the wake and almost in the context of the collapse of Iran. Our position in the Persian Gulf was collapsing. If the Soviet Union had been able to get away with the success in Afghanistan, its sense of momentum - aggressive momentum - would have continued. Remember that at that time the Soviet Union was actively abetting international terrorism. There were scores of camps in the Soviet Union training terrorists and the problem we today confront with terrorism would have been vastly greater than it is if we still had a Soviet Union actively engaged in exploiting and abetting it.

BEN WATTENBERG: Let me ask you a final question. If you had to give President Bush - you’ve been a professor - if you had to give him a final grade as an elected politician, not as a geo-strategic theoretician, on his foreign policy, where would you place - I’ve heard some conservatives said he may well end up being the most successful one-term loser in American presidential history.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well that’s very cruel. It’ll be particularly cruel to him because I know that he’s quite concerned over what happened to his father and he doesn’t want to repeat that in the sense for the sake of his father. So I understand the human feelings involved. You know, I almost hate having to answer you because you’ve asked such good questions. And I don’t want to put a partisan spin on what I’m saying.

BEN WATTENBERG: No, go ahead.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: But I’m willing to answer you, but I do so with some hesitation. I honestly don’t think much of his foreign policy at this stage. I think that as I go around the world there are a number of things that bother me. To the Europeans who were totally with us after 9/11, he’s been saying since then if you are not with us you’re against us. How can you have friends if you say to your friends 'if you’re not with me you’re against me'? The essence of friendship is the ability to disagree. That bothers me. With the Russians, he looks into the eyes of Putin and discovers a wonderful soul in him, even though Putin is killing the Chechens by the thousands and is repressing democracy. That bothers me. I am uneasy about the demagogy that was used to stir up the popular support for going against Iraq. I think a democracy cannot thrive if it goes to war on the basis of false pretenses. And the pretenses were false. I am bothered by the loss of American credibility around the world. You know, Kennedy could send Atcheson to see de Gaulle during the Cuban missile crisis, to tell him there are Russian missiles pointed at us and that we’ll go to war, if necessary. And then he says to de Gaulle 'and now let me show you the photographs to bear out what I was saying.' And de Gaulle says to Atcheson, 'I don’t want to see your photographs. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me. Go back and tell him France is with the United States.' Would any leader do that today in similar circumstances? Not after what has happened. These things bother me. I thought that Bush started off well and I have been regretfully disappointed. I think that 9/11 did something to him and maybe this sort of politically attractive notion of being a 'war president' quote, unquote...

BEN WATTENBERG: And that’s what he calls himself.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: ...that’s what he calls himself - in a sense turned him in the wrong direction. And America can compete politically without becoming divisive. That is the strength of America. Now our competition is becoming internally antagonistic. And unfortunately I think a lot of that is due to the rhetoric of the last two years.
I am very often critical of some very liberal Democrats and I have at times preferred Republican foreign policies to democratic foreign policies. But, since you forced me to the wall, I’m troubled. I think the president is surrounded by a group of people who reinforce each other. I don’t think he gets any dissents of any serious degree. Dissent is not encouraged. Ultimately, you know, dissent cannot be the basis for governing, but you do want in a democracy for dissent to be heard, considered and seriously considered. That’s not the atmosphere in this administration.

BEN WATTENBERG: And you’re not going to give him any specific grade as a professor.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I don’t want to give him a grade but I would...

BEN WATTENBERG: You’re not happy.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: No, I would say you know, take another look, think it over; it’s not headed in the right direction.

BEN WATTENBERG: Okay, thank you very much Zbigniew Brzezinski for joining us on Think Tank. And thank you. Please remember to send us your comments via email. For Think Tank, I’m Ben Wattenberg.


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