Monday, May 29, 2017

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, Dies at 89



"Mr. Brzezinski, a descendant of Polish aristocrats (his name is pronounced Z-BIG-nyehv breh-ZHIHN-skee), was a severe, even intimidating figure, with penetrating eyes and a strong Polish accent. Washington quickly learned that he had sharp elbows as well. He was adept at seizing the spotlight and freezing out the official spokesman on foreign policy, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, provoking conflicts that ultimately led to Mr. Vance’s resignation."

Continued @ nytimes.com




Excerpts From Brzezinski's Selective Global Commitment

Foreign Affairs Magazine Fall 1991....

There is a pervasive sense that the world is on the threshold of a new era. The dilemmas, passions and especially utopias of the recent past have suddenly become irrelevant. Yet before a new world order is proudly proclaimed and majestically inaugurated, some serious geostrategic rethinking is necessary, lest global disorder comes to dominate the onset of the post-Cold War era.

The end of the Cold War marks this century's third grand transformation of the organizing structure and motivating spirit of global politics. The first two great transformations did not enhance international security. The question now is, will the third?

The catalyst for the third transformation is the success of the West and, specifically, the United States in the outcome of the Cold War. Much therefore depends on the geostrategic implications drawn from the conclusion of that era, especially by America and those nations that were its principal partners in that prolonged engagement.....

The revolution in behavior among the most advanced countries is reinforced not only by the growing interaction and personal familiarity among their governing elites, but also by a profound alteration in public values. For the average citizen the imperatives of consumption are now more important than those of territory or ideology. Neither the desire for complete national independence nor ideological self-righteousness are the overriding motivations shaping the coalition's public opinion....

Threats to international security have traditionally been defined in terms of state-to-state relations. That was especially the case in an age in which the nation-state was the principal vessel of decisive political action. But in the emerging age of organic global politics, it is just as likely that major threats could originate from within states, either through civil conflicts or because of the increased technological sophistication of terrorist acts.

The character of the security challenges now facing the global community was dramatically defined by EC Commission President Jacques Delors in his important March 1991 address to the International Institute for Strategic Studies: "All around us, naked ambition, lust for power, national uprisings and underdevelopment are combining to create potentially dangerous situations, containing the seeds of destabilization and conflict, aggravated by the proliferation of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION."

This general description could be amplified by a long list of specific problems, some due to the end of the Cold War, some long-lasting regional conflicts or legacies of imperialism, others likely to arise because of the emergence of new regional powers, and still others inherent in the inequality and poverty of the human condition-exacerbated by the population explosion. But all will be made potentially more lethal because of the inevitable further diffusion of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.....

And how the Middle East evolves depends very heavily on the degree to which America chooses to play a passive or active role. Indeed, the American role in helping to shape these answers will be critical simply because today's global politics include only one superpower, the United States. No other power currently possesses the attributes needed for effective global leverage: military reach, political clout, economic impact as well as social and cultural appeal.12

America's special status, however, is threatened by its own domestic shortcomings. To be sure it would be rash to underestimate the innate capacity of American society for rapid renovation. A burst of economic and technological renewal could well be sparked in America, drastically reversing even in the 1990s some of the downward trends in the country's economic indices. Unless America pays more attention to its domestic weaknesses a new global pecking order could emerge early in the next century, in the event that a unifying Europe and an economically dynamic Japan were to assume large political and military responsibilities.

Accordingly, U.S. policy will have to strike a more deliberate balance among global needs for continued American commitment, the desirability of some devolution of U.S. regional security responsibilities and the imperatives of America's domestic renewal. This will require a more subtle American contribution to sustaining global security than was the case during the Cold War. More emphasis will have to be placed on cooperation with genuine partners, including shared decision-making in world security issues. American influence is in fact likely to be higher if the homeward redeployment of some of its forces precedes-not follows-the host country's demand.

The emerging global system thus is likely neither to be based on American hegemony nor derived from genuine international harmony. Though America is today admittedly the world's only superpower, global conditions are too complex and America's domestic health too precarious to sustain a worldwide Pax Americana. A truly new world order, based on consensus, rule of law and peaceful adjudication of disputes, may eventually become a reality. But that day is still far off. As of now, the phrase is a slogan in search of substantive meaning.

Isolationism, given the emergence of the global economy and the impact of modern communications, is also not a practical option. Thus the real alternatives are these: either a world of intensifying disorder-with a divided Europe, a Soviet Union plunging into violent chaos, a Far East destabilized by new power shifts and a Middle East marked by continued conflict-cumulatively producing a catastrophic breakdown in global security; or an incipient global security structure, derived from widening and increasingly self-reliant regional cooperation, backed by selective and proportionate American commitments.

Via: John Adams

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