Polish-American political scientist (1928–2017)
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski (March 28, 1928 - May 26, 2017) was a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor in the administration of President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.
- I felt strongly that in the U.S.-Soviet competition the appeal of America as a free society could become an important asset, and I saw in human rights an opportunity to put the Soviet Union ideologically on the defensive....by actively pursuing this' commitment we could mobilize far greater global support and focus global attention on the glaring internal weaknesses of the Soviet system.
- National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, US President (1977-1981). Power and Principle. Chapter 5.
- This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our non-proliferation policy.
- Memo to President Carter following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979).
- History is much more the product of chaos than of conspiracy.
- The New York Times, January 18, 1981 Quotation of the Day.
- Nation state as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.
- Between Two Ages: The Technetronic Era, 1971.
- The crucial issue here, one that might well come to a dramatic head in the course of 1994, is the future stability and independence of Ukraine. It cannot be stressed strongly enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire. American policymakers must face the fact that Ukraine is on the brink of disaster: the economy is in a free-fall, while Crimea is on the verge of a Russia-abetted ethnic explosion. Either crisis might be exploited to promote the breakup or the reintegration of Ukraine in a larger Moscow-dominated framework. It is urgent and essential that the United States convince the Ukrainian government—through the promise of substantial economic assistance—to adopt long-delayed and badly needed economic reforms. At the same time, American political assurances for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity should be forthcoming.
- “The Premature Partnership,” Foreign Affairs, v 73, n 2 (March/April 1994), p 76.
- ...foreign policy of a pluralistic democracy like the United States should be based on bipartisanship because bipartisanship is the means and the framework for formulating policies based on moderation and on the recognition of the complexity of the human condition. That has been the tradition since the days of Truman and Vandenberg all the way until recent times.
- Address to the New American Strategies Conference, (October 28, 2003).
- In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities effectively exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason.
- 1970, Between Two Ages : America's Role in the Technetronic Era.
- Benchmarks are targets that have to be fulfilled. They cannot be fulfilled in an indefinite period of time, so there are timetables in benchmarks.
- PBS NewsHour, October 26, 2006 PBS Newshour (2006). On the "benchmarks" used by George W. Bush.
- The mistakes of the Iraq war are not only tactical and strategic, but historical. It is essentially a war of colonialism, attempted in the post-colonial age.
- The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (January 11, 2007).
- [President George W. Bush] has a vision which can be described with two other words: Manichaean paranoia... the notion that he is leading the forces of good against the empire of evil, that in that setting, the fact that we are morally superior justifies us committing immoral acts. And that is a very dangerous posture for the country that is the number one global power. ... The fact is he squandered our credibility, our legitimacy, and even respect for our power.
- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (March 14, 2007).
- Major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might be greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.
- Speech, Chatham House, London, November 17, 2008.
- I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.
- ...'world peace' imposed by a dominant power assisted by a few partners is unlikely... only world peace driven by a recognition of the threat to everyone's survival is the most likely source of salvation...
- Time, The Answers Issue (July 2015), p. 49.
- [American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.
- We have a large public that is very ignorant about world affairs and very susceptible to simplistic slogans by candidates who appear out of nowhere, have no track record, but mouth appealing slogans.
- Morning Joe (July 13, 2011).
- This is a highly motivated, good country. It is driven by good motives. But it is also a country with an extremely simplistic understanding of world affairs, and with still a high confidence in America’s capacity to prevail, by force if necessary. (...) This is a country of good emotions, but poor knowledge and little sophistication about the world.
- Interview in The National Interest - Brzezinski on the Syria Crisis, Interview in The National Interest (June 24, 2013).
- You have to ask yourself, 'What was the desire of the people who, after more than 40 years of Soviet oppression, became free?' They didn’t want to be pawns between a residual West that ended somewhere on the borders of the old West Germany and a resurgent Russia. They wanted to be part of the democratic West and, eventually, of the European Union. Those are perfectly legitimate aspirations. This is no threat to Russia –- except to those Russians who cannot conceive of Russia as anything else but a dominant empire that rules not only over the Russian people but over those adjoining Russian territory.
- Interview in The Huffington Post - NATO Should Stop Putin From Restoring Czarist Empire, Zbigniew Brzezinski Says (September 3, 2014). Commenting on criticisms of NATO expansion to Eastern Europe.
The Grand Chessboard (1997)Edit
- Like so many empires before it, the Soviet Union eventually imploded and fragmented, falling victim not so much to a direct military defeat as to disintegration accelerated by economic and social strains.
- Chapter 1, Hegemony Of A New Type, p. 9.
- The language of the internet is English, and an overwhelming proportion of the global computer chatter also originates from America, influencing the content of global conversation.
- Chapter 1, Hegemony Of A New Type, p. 25.
- For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia.
- Chapter 2, The Eurasian Chessboard, p. 30.
- Fortunately for America, Eurasia is too big to be politically one. Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.
- Chapter 2, The Eurasian Chessboard, p. 31.
- The scope of America's global hegemony is admittedly great, but its depth is shallow, limited by both domestic and external restraints.
- Chapter 2, The Eurasian Chessboard, p. 35.
- It is also a fact that America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America's power, especially its capacity for military intimidation. Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public's sense of domestic well-being. The economic self-denial (that is, defense spending) and the human sacrifice (casualties, even among professional soldiers) required in the effort are uncongenial to democratic instincts. Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization.
- Chapter 2, The Eurasian Chessboard, p. 35-36.
- In brief, for the United States, Eurasian geostrategy involves the purposeful management of geostrategically dynamic states and the careful handling of geopolitically catalytic states, in keeping with the twin interests of America in the short-term: preservation of its unique global power and in the long-run transformation of it into increasingly institutionalized global cooperation. To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
- Chapter 2, The Eurasian Chessboard, p. 40.
- There is an element of delusional obsession in the French political elite's preoccupation with the notion that France is still a global power.
- Chapter 3, The Democratic Bridgehead, p. 62.
- It is conceivable that at some point a truly united and powerful European Union could become a global political rival to the United States.
- Chapter 3, The Democratic Bridgehead, p. 75.
- The key institutions of Soviet power - though weakened, demoralized, and corrupted - were still there. Symbolic of that reality and of the lingering hold of the Communist past was the historic centerpiece of Moscow: the continued presence of the Lenin mausoleum.
- Chapter 4, The Black Hole, p. 104.
- Russia's only real geostrategic option - the option that would give Russia a realistic international role and also maximize the opportunity of transforming and socially modernizing itself - is Europe.
- Chapter 4, The Black Hole, p. 118.
- The key point to bear in mind is that Russia cannot be in Europe without Ukraine also being in Europe, whereas Ukraine can be in Europe without Russia being in Europe.
- Chapter 4, The Black Hole, p. 122.
- The world's energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia's economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.
- Chapter 5, The Eurasian Balkans, p. 125.
- The dynamic character of China's nonstatist economic transformation, including its social openness to the rest of the world, is not mutually compatible in the long run with a relatively closed and bureaucratically rigid Communist dictatorship.
- Chapter 6, The Far Eastern Anchor, p. 161.
- The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.
- Conclusion, p. 198.
- In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single state. Hence America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly global superpower, but is also likely to be the very last.
- Conclusion, p. 209.
- To put it very simply, anyone can become an American, but only a Chinese can be Chinese - and that places an additional and significant barrier in the way of any essentially national global hegemony.
- Conclusion, p. 210.
- Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.
- Conclusion, p. 211.
- With the more endowed nations constrained by their own higher technological capacity for self-destruction as well as by self interest, war may have become a luxury that only the poor peoples of this world can afford.
- Conclusion, p. 213.
Power and Principle (1983)Edit
I felt strongly that in the U.S.-Soviet competition the appeal of America as a free society could become an important asset, and I saw in human rights an opportunity to put the Soviet Union ideologically on the defensive....by actively pursuing this' commitment we could mobilize far greater global support and focus global attention on the glaring internal weaknesses of the Soviet system.
- I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the Khmer Rouge. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him. But China could.
- Elizabeth Becker, When The War Was Over..., 1979, p. 435  (Brzezinski responded in the letter the NYT clarifying his postion at the time: "China acted alone [... Becker's article] asserts flatly as if it was a fact that the Carter Administration "helped arrange continued Chinese aid" to Pol Pot.[...] we told the Chinese explicitly that in our view Pol Pot was an abomination and that the United States would have nothing to do with him directly or indirectly.").
- According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
- Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris (15-21 January 1998).
- According to Tobin, Conor (April 2020). "The Myth of the 'Afghan Trap': Zbigniew Brzezinski and Afghanistan, 1978–1979". Diplomatic History 44 (2): 238–239. DOI:10.1093/dh/dhz065.: "The French interview has had a major impact on the historiography, being used as the almost sole basis to prove the existence of a concerted effort to lure Moscow into the 'Afghan trap.' There are, however, significant problems with it as an historical source. First, the title is deceptive. It reads (in translation): 'The revelations of a former adviser to Carter: "Yes, the CIA came into Afghanistan before the Russians ..."' Quotation marks and ellipsis indicate that this is a direct quote from Brzezinski and implies CIA operations inside Afghanistan before December 1979, which does not fit with the historical record. Although insisting on the accuracy of the interview, the journalist has since conceded that the quote in the title was not actually from Brzezinski but was 'invented' by the editors, which casts doubt on the subsequent text. Secondly, the published remarks were heavily edited and Brzezinski has denied the article's accuracy on numerous occasions, asserting that it was 'not an interview, but excerpts from an interview that was originally supposed to be published in full but which they never checked with me for approval in the form that it did appear.' It is also likely a casualty of translation—being conducted in English, translated and printed in French, and reconverted to English—with the original statements becoming skewed and distorted in their edited and translated form. Additionally, many of the interview's claims are unsupported by documentary evidence. For example, Brzezinski has denied he ever sent a note claiming the covert aid would 'lead to a Soviet military intervention,' and no such note, nor references to it, has ever been found. Nowhere else has Brzezinski ever referred to a systematic plan for the 'Afghan trap' and neither in his subsequent actions, writings, interviews, or public remarks on the topic has he shown any satisfaction that his strategy had worked. It is highly questionable that Brzezinski would attempt to bolster his reputation and disclose information on a secret plan to ensnare Moscow in an Afghan quagmire in just one foreign interview and then subsequently and repeatedly deny it. The editing, translation, inventions, and lack of final approval and corroborating documentation generates doubts on the accuracy of the words attributed to Brzezinski and, ultimately, if this one unreliable interview is discounted there is very little legitimate evidence to back up the 'trap' thesis."
- Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris (15-21 January 1998).
- Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, [historian] Richard Pipes and many other American politicians... are frozen... with unchanging blindness and stubbornness they keep repeating... this theory about the supposed age-old aggressiveness of Russia, without taking into consideration today's reality.
- Interview with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn,Forbes magazine (May 1994)
- For Brzezinski, doing damage to Russia is a hobby.
- James K. Galbraith, Democracy inaction, Salon.com (November 30, 2004).
- ↑ Zbigniew Brzezinski. National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, US President (1977-1981). Power and Principle. Chapter 5.
- ↑ December 26, 1979 Reflections on the Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan. George Washington University.