Saturday, May 27, 2017

Zbigniew Brzezinski is dead

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski  died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.
He was an extraordinary intellectual, a brilliant strategist. He was President Carter’s national security adviser from 1977 to 1981, and a trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Like his predecessor Henry A. Kissinger, Dr. Brzezinski was a foreign-born scholar (he in Poland, Mr. Kissinger in Germany) with considerable influence in global affairs, both before and long after his official tour of duty in the White House. In essays, interviews and television appearances over the decades, he cast a sharp eye on six successive administrations, including that of Donald J. Trump, whose election he did not support and whose foreign policy, he found, lacked coherence.
Mr. Brzezinski was nominally a Democrat, with views that led him to speak out, for example, against the “greed,” as he put it, of an American system that compounded inequality. He was one of the few foreign policy experts to warn against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He remained a die-hard opponent of Russia and its meddling in world affairs. He supported billions in military aid for Muslim militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Aside from his ideological principles, he had both personal and historical reasons for abhorring the Soviet system.
I post below some info on him that is extracted from the New York Times.

A Soviet Refugee

Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski was born in Warsaw on March 28, 1928. His father, Tadeusz, was a diplomat who took the family along to France, then to Germany during the rise of Hitler in the 1930s and, fortuitously, to Canada on the eve of World War II. When the Russians took over Poland at the end of the war, Tadeusz Brzezinski chose to retire in Canada rather than return home.
The younger Mr. Brzezinski graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 1949 and earned a master’s degree there in 1950. Then it was on to Harvard, which granted him a doctorate in political science in 1953 and appointed him as an instructor. He and Mr. Kissinger were among the candidates for a faculty position; when Mr. Kissinger won an associate professorship in 1959, Mr. Brzezinski decamped to Columbia University.
His bond with Jimmy Carter developed through the Trilateral Commission, the group David Rockefeller created in 1973 as a forum for political and business leaders from North America, Western Europe and Japan to consider the challenges facing industrialized countries. Mr. Brzezinski was the commission’s first director. (Mr. Rockefeller died in March.)
In 1974, Mr. Brzezinski invited Mr. Carter, then the governor of Georgia and a rising Democratic star, to become a member. Two years later, Mr. Carter was the Democratic nominee for president, and he hired Mr. Brzezinski as a foreign affairs adviser.
A prolific author, Mr. Brzezinski published a memoir in 1983 about his White House years, “Power and Principle,” in which he recalled a range of policy objectives that went beyond containing the Soviets. “First,” he wrote, “I thought it was important to try to increase America’s ideological impact on the world” — to make it again the “carrier of human hope, the wave of the future.”
Mr. Brzezinski, who had homes in Washington and Northeast Harbor, Me., was married to the Czech-American sculptor Emilie Benes, with whom he had two children in addition to Ms. Brzezinski: Mark Brzezinski, a lawyer and former ambassador to Sweden under President Barack Obama, and Ian Brzezinski, whose career has included serving as a deputy assistant secretary of defense. All survive him. He is also survived by a brother, Lech, and five grandchildren.
Into his 80s Mr. Brzezinski was still fully active as a teacher, author and consultant: a professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a frequent expert commentator on PBS and ABC News.
His last article, posted some 3 months ago in the NY Times, is posted below. ( Paul Wasserman worked as a research associate for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.)
Why the World Needs a Trump Doctrine

Washington — The global order is in disarray. The world is sliding into significant disorder with no international structure capable of handling the kinds of problems that are likely to erupt almost simultaneously. To compound it all, chaos among the major powers could generate truly disastrous consequences.
So far, President Trump has failed to formulate any significant, relevant statements about the global condition. Instead, the world has been left to interpret the sometimes irresponsible, uncoordinated and ignorant statements of his team.
Self-promoters seeking important positions should not be permitted to create the impression that their sometimes simplistic and extremist terminology is becoming national policy. The recent public embarrassment over American policy toward the Kremlin, culminating in the resignation of Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser after just 24 days in the job, speaks for itself.
While we did not support Mr. Trump, he is the president of the United States. He is our president, and we want him to be a success. Right now, he does not look like that to the rest of the world, or to us.
A vulnerable world needs an America characterized by clarity of thought and leadership that projects optimism and progress. “Make America Great Again” and “America First” are all very well as bumper stickers, but the foreign policy of the United States needs to be more than a campaign slogan.
So we would advise the president to give an address that offers a bold statement of his vision, including his determination to provide America’s leadership in the effort to shape a more stable world. This speech should not be a detailed blueprint for American foreign policy, but rather serve as a much-needed reminder that the president of the United States is on watch, is actively engaged and has a sense of historical direction.
What we need to hear from our president is why America is important to the world and why the world needs America. At the same time, he can take advantage of the opportunity to point out what the United States expects from the world.We may disagree with President Trump on day-to-day decisions, but we urge him to recognize that the ideal long-term solution is one in which the three militarily dominant powers — the United States, China and Russia — work together to support global stability.
Much hinges on the degree to which America and China can engage in successful dialogue. This would open the way for a more serious, strategic Sino-American understanding. That, in turn, could create the basis for a more lasting understanding among all three major powers, since Russia would realize that if it were not included in a Sino-American accommodation, its interests would be at risk.
America must also be mindful of the danger that China and Russia could form a strategic alliance. For this reason, the United States must take care not to act toward China as though it were a subordinate: this would almost guarantee a closer tie between China and Russia.
More immediately worrying is the problem posed by North Korea, which will require increased cooperation among North Korea’s more powerful neighbors, including China and Japan (and potentially Russia), as well as the United States. Isolated American efforts are unlikely to move Pyongyang in a positive direction.
If the United States is to improve its relationship with Russia, it must renew both sides’ acknowledgment that a commitment to abide by law is central to the international order. A superficial show of better relations must not be a cover for deception, maneuvering or violence against weaker neighbors. President Trump’s desire for constructive engagement with Russia is sensible, but there has to be a framework of acceptable conduct that, unfortunately, does not exist at present.
Russia is confronted by non-Russian former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Uzbekistan consolidating their independence, while China’s economic penetration of Central Asia has also reduced Russia’s role in that region. The stakes for all three major powers are high, but so are the potential rewards — and they know it.
In the near term, America should aim for specific regional agreements with partners like Japan and Britain, as these relationships will be essential for managing regional affairs. In this regard, the administration’s steps to reaffirm America’s commitment to defend Japan and South Korea are encouraging. But as the linchpin of NATO, America must also be ready to defend Western and Central Europe.
With his background, President Trump knows the power of business. The United States should make clear to Russia that any military incursion into Europe, including the “little green men” tactics seen at the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, would incur a punitive blockade of Russia’s maritime access to the West that would affect nearly two-thirds of all Russian seaborne trade.
Given the Trump administration’s abysmal performance so far in installing a leadership capable of strategic decision making, it is crucial that America and the world hear a vision of leadership and commitment from our president. A Trump Doctrine, any doctrine more or less, is sorely needed.

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