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Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski (born 28 March, 1928) is 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.
- "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
- "Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. 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."
- Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998 (When asked if he regretted drawing the Soviets into a trap in Afghanistan)
- "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"
- Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998 (When asked if he regretted contributing to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism)
- "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"
- "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
- "...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."
- "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." (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.
- "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."
- "[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)
- 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
- 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.
Quotations about Brzezinski
- "When Brzezinski says we lured the Russians into an 'Afghan trap' - by supporting the Mujahadeen and that was a great achievement, we've now destroyed Afghanistan and set up a terrorist network, a wonderful achievement - in the same book, I said we have to be cautious about this because he may be boasting. Unless he gives us some evidence, the fact that he says later, 'Yes, we drew them into an Afghan trap' doesn't prove it."
- Noam Chomsky, On Afghanistan, Interview with Tim Sebastian on Hard Talk, February 2, 2002.
- For Brzezinski, doing damage to Russia is a hobby.
- James K. Galbraith, Democracy inaction, Salon.com, November 30, 2004