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Zbigniew Brzezinski, Are You Nuts? – OpEd

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An October 5 headline in Politico screamed out, “Brzezinski: Obama should retaliate if Russia doesn’t stop attacking US assets.”

Think about that: it sounds like Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor in the Carter administration, is advocating a direct confrontation between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. Either country has the resources to wipe the other off the face of the earth. Some say it could mean the end of human civilization as we know it today.

But if Russia is attacking US assets, that must certainly invite a reasonable response, right?

What particular assets was Brzezinski talking about? What could possibly justify something that could become the greatest existential risk ever taken by mankind?

Did the Russians attack Fort Knox? Are America’s gold reserves the assets he means? Or has Putin attacked a major US city? Has Russia already occupied and fortified the eastern tip of Long Island?

No. Brzezinski was talking about Syria, a place where the United States has no apparent strategic interests. It got involved there only to address a humanitarian crisis. That’s what the Obama administration has maintained.

Syrian president Assad was killing his own people, claimed the administration. That is eerily reminiscent of how Washington characterized Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya before the US intervened in those countries. And we all know the poor outcome US intervention brought them.

Now, Brzezinski is concerned about Russia’s attack on ISIS, the de facto country that has brutally occupied parts of Syria and Iraq. There’s no reliable evidence that Russia attacked any US assets in Syria. There have been many media allegations to the contrary. But Brzezinsky calls them out as “alleged.” Politico calls them “apparent,” but offers no corroboration.

The Politico story was written by journalist Nick Gass. He quoted Brzezinski as saying, “The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland,” and furthermore “they could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.”

So, presumed vulnerability and logistical disadvantage are all Brzezinski needs? That’s enough to attack? What an opportunist he is! And to what end? What about this risk of causing massive destruction to our planet?

I honestly can’t understand any rational justification for Brzezinski’s crazy-sounding recommendations.

But Politico didn’t get those Brzezinski quotes from the man himself. Instead, the publication cited an article written for the Financial Times by Brzezinski.

I went and checked out that FT article. I wanted to know if Brzezinski actually advanced the arguments described in Politico.

The first disparity I noticed is the title: Politico ran with “Brzezinski: Obama should retaliate if Russia doesn’t stop attacking US assets.”

But the FT source article was titled “Russia must work with, not against, America in Syria.” The article’s deck explained, “We should persuade Moscow to act with us in resolving such a problem, writes Zbigniew Brzezinski.”

That clearly puts things in a different perspective. The truth is that Brzezinski was advocating US-Russia cooperation, while Politico spun that into a treatise supporting dangerous military confrontation.

Then there was journalist Gass’s seemingly saber-rattling passage: “‘The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland,’ Brzezinski noted. ‘They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.'”

Gass didn’t let Brzezinski finish his thought. Brzezinski’s very next sentence was: “But, better still, Russia might be persuaded to act with the US in seeking a wider accommodation to a regional problem that transcends the interests of a single state.” That got buried two paragraphs below. In between Gass paraphrases Brzezinsky on how “it would behoove Russia to cooperate with the U.S.” Brzezinsky’s statement would have been more coherent if it had been left intact.

There Gass goes again, distorting the import of Brzezinski’s message.

In deference to Gass, I must admit that some of Brzezinski’s article is problematic and confusing. Brzezinski wrote, “Moscow has chosen to intervene militarily, but without political or tactical cooperation with the US — the principal foreign power engaged in direct, if not very effective, efforts to unseat Mr. Assad.”

Brzezinski seems to be experiencing some cognitive dissonance here. Why would he presume Russia should cooperate with America’s actions against Assad? Putin is long on record with the view that externally-forced regime change would be a disaster. (It’s worth noting that Russia is going after ISIS in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government. The US is there at its own initiative, in what many regard as unprovoked aggression.)

Moscow’s military intervention is aimed at getting ISIS. The US ostensibly has been trying to do that too. But the record shows that America has achieved the same lack of effectiveness that, according to Brzezinski, the US has demonstrated in trying to unseat Assad.

So it makes no sense at all that Brzezinski should expect Russia to cooperate with America in a faltering effort to achieve a regime-change goal that Russia does not embrace.

Gass ends his article with the Brzezinski quote, “It is time, therefore, for strategic boldness.” That sounds like a reaffirmation of Gass’s distortion about the retaliation issue.

But Brzezinski was not talking about bold retaliation. The predicate for his “strategic boldness” statement is found several paragraphs earlier in his article.

There he says if America and Russia were to cooperate in remediating the “Middle East explosion,” it might even promote the “constructive engagement” of China in “preventing the further spread of chaos.” Brzezinski points out that “Beijing has a significant economic stake in the prevention of a larger Middle East conflict.”

The bottom line is that the “strategic boldness” comment is about initiating cooperation, not US military retaliation against Russia.

All this distortion in the Politico article causes me to wonder what Gass’s game is.

The Politico website says the goal of the publication is “to prove there’s a robust and profitable future for tough, fair, and fun coverage of politics and government.” It concludes, “But none of this works if we ever fall short of that initial promise of delivering nonpartisan news, fast, fair, and first.

It’s hard to reckon those lofty goals with the job done by Nick Gass on this Brzezinski article. It’s a complete flimflam that throws gasoline on an already explosive and troubling situation.

So I guess the real headline here is: “Nick Gass, Are You Nuts?”

William Dunkerley

William Dunkerley

William Dunkerley is a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, Connecticut, USA. He works extensively with media organizations in Russia and other post-communist countries, and has advised government leaders on strategies for building press freedom and a healthy media sector. He is a Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow.

3 thoughts on “Zbigniew Brzezinski, Are You Nuts? – OpEd

  • Avatar
    October 8, 2015 at 5:49 am
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    Yes zbig is nuts and has been so for a vary long time. He is from Polish gentry who got their buts kicked by the Red Army. So zbig is mad and nuts

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 8, 2015 at 8:04 am
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    I think the author has a correct point. I was listening to Senator John Mccain the other day, who was saying something similar. He made a sentence about Russia to make you conclude that he meant to go to war against Russia, and when was asked whether he wanted US to go to war against Russia, the senator replied by saying he was not saying that. He confused me. Mr. Brzezinski thinks in the same way. I can conclude that both the senator and the previous national security advisor are indicating that US can try to do something against Russia such as trying to disarm the Russian ships, and if the trial does not workout we can argue that there was misunderstanding about what has happened just like the misunderstanding about Hospital Bombing in Afghanistan. What it bothers me is that those individuals want US to disarm Russia but they do not try to disarm and eliminate ISIL.
    This is not really a smart way to approach foreign policy issues. Russian forces have been in Syria for about forty years, and they will be there for long time to come. President Putin has reached a point that US cannot counter ISIL properly and has decided to jump in. He is giving ISIL significant hits, and the outcomes will become clear whether he is successful or not. President Putin is getting support from Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Hizab Allah in Lebanon . Those countries, but Egypt, think that if Assad goes out of power in Syria, then Lebanon and Iraq will change. Hence, Iran power and influence will be restricted significantly. It is very simple to see that Mr. Brzezinski is not interested in the outcome of eliminating ISIL, because it does not fit his fragmentation idea about the Middle East. He thinks that some countries in the Middle East from Iraq to Syria, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will have to be divided into small countries in order to be controlled by Israel. (This planned division is the Israeli plan which is supported by many American politicians). In addition, these small fragmented Arab countries will have to fight against each other for ages and will have to buy weapons from the American Military Industrial Complex until they die out. Thus, there are multiple objectives in his theory (profit, power, domination, national security, etc), and I am sure that Mr. Brzezinski wants US to take the Russians out of the Middle East in any way possible. Including lifting the sanction imposed by President Obama.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 8, 2015 at 8:11 pm
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    Regardless of how accurate the quotations are, it is a well know fact that ZB (zbigniew Brzezinski) has “Always” recurred the Islamic terrorists against the Middle East nations. It started with Carter when he actually entered the White House negotiated with Khomeini and changed the secular regime in Iran into an Islamic one. It is no secret to the people in the region that the ISIS is made in the west. The fact that the west is helping the seculars to fight Assad, is nothing but bunch of BS. That is not the case and they damn well know it. ISIS also has been stealing oil from Iraq and Syria and selling it to Turkey and that’s why Russians are bombing them. ZB and the gang have always been supporting the fanatics because they are the most violent ones. It is been at least about 38 years that they have been using these people as their proxy. And they have failed since the start. ZB’s pride and glory goes to making of the Mujahedin to fight the Russians. But the collapse of USSR is due to many factors not only the Afghan war as he likes to take credit for. The real enemies are the ones that make these terrorist organizations for us. I come from that region and I know NONE of the secular groups are supported by the west. In the name of democracy they change every secular regime to an Islamic one. I think if it wasn’t for the Russians, Egypt would have been fully taken over by Muslim Brotherhood which had the US support.
    ZB should have been kicked adviser committee long ago, but unfortunately he is one of the leading US’s foreign policy makers. Only thanks to his master David Rockefeller. He should wake up and acknowledge that he is not dealing with the same Russia like the 70’s and 80’s. Thanks to this man that every time he becomes the main White House adviser the president earns the title of the worst US president in history; first Carter and now Obama.

    Reply

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