Brzezinski on Obama's New Asian Policy, American Ignorance, Tony Blair, the Chinese, etc.

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Niccolo and Donkey
Lunch With Zbigniew Brzezinski

Edward Luce

January 14, 2012


For most people in their eighties, life is a gradual winding down. For Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the key architects of America’s cold war strategy – “Jimmy Carter’s Kissinger”, as he was once called – being 83 isn’t much different from 43. Brzezinski plays singles tennis every day – “one of my partners is older than me,” he tells me with some amusement. At the crack of dawn he is often found opining trenchantly on Morning Joe, the MSNBC daily news show co-hosted by his daughter Mika. And he remains a much sought-after adviser to secretaries of state and presidential candidates, including Barack Obama , though nowadays Brzezinski finds it hard to conceal his disappointment with his former mentee. “I’m all in favour of grand important speeches but the president then has to link his sermons to a strategy,” Brzezinski says. “Obama still has some way to go.”

We meet at Teatro Goldoni, one of Washington’s best Italian restaurants, located on the infamous K Street, home to many of the town’s lobbying groups. It is also a block from the Center for Strategic International Studies, one of DC’s biggest think-tanks, where Brzezinski, national security adviser to Carter from 1977 to 1981, is a trustee. I get there a few minutes early to fiddle with my tape recorder. Brzezinski strides in on the dot of our agreed time and grips my hand firmly. Dressed in a low-key suit and tie, Brzezinski is leathered and lean and still has almost a full head of hair. He talks in paragraphs, virtually without pause. Though I have known Brzezinski for years – and received news tips from him by email and fax – I still feel unsettled by his piercing gaze. Many of his Soviet interlocutors and White House colleagues were reportedly kept off balance by his hawkish manner.

“I don’t know much about food,” Brzezinski says as we settle down in his favourite booth, elevated slightly above the main restaurant floor. “I come here because it tastes nice and it’s convenient.” Despite having eaten here dozens of times, Brzezinski is still puzzled by the menu. “Remind me again, what is linguine?” he asks the waiter, who launches into a detailed description. “And what kind of meat do you have in your lasagne?” Brzezinski continues. The waiter explains that “as usual” it’s minced beef. Before ordering food, we had both chosen the same drink. “You know that red drink that they have before lunch in France?” says Brzezinski. “Perhaps wine?” the waiter suggests. “No, no, it’s stronger than that.” Remembering my maternal grandfather, who loved aperitifs, I have an epiphany. “Dubonnet?” I suggest. “Yes, yes, I’ll have a Dubonnet,” Brzezinski says. “It’s really a very good drink.”

When talking about the state of the world, Brzezinski, who still has traces of a Polish accent, chooses his language more forensically. His father was a Polish diplomat and Brzezinski, who was educated at a British prep school in Montreal during the second world war, had spent most of his first decade at diplomatic compounds in France and Hitler’s Berlin. Brzezinski Sr must have done something very right, or very wrong, to get posted to Canada after that. “In those days, the British still referred to it as BNA,” Brzezinski says. “British North America.” Brzezinski attributes his verbal skills to his prep school. “I entered the school not knowing a word of English and at the end of the first year in June I picked up a prize for literature,” he says. It must also have been there that he acquired his knowledge of food, I think to myself.

I spent the previous night reading through Brzezinski’s new book – Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power . “That must have been a sad evening,” says Brzezinski, chuckling. I had no difficulty staying awake, I reply. The book offers a bracing portrait of a “receding west” with one half, Europe, turning into a “comfortable retirement home”, and the other, the US, beset by relative economic decline and a dysfunctional politics. In this rapidly changing new world, America’s growing “strategic isolation” is matched only by China’s “strategic patience” in a challenge likely to strain the electoral horizons of US policymakers.

The book is full of sharp advice: the US should prod Europe to bring both Russia and Turkey into an enlarged west. America should hedge against China’s rise, without explicitly attempting to contain it. Most important, the US should revitalise its domestic economy if it wants to stave off further decline. On all counts, Brzezinski seems pessimistic about the likelihood that Washington’s elites will start to act strategically again. “If the US doesn’t revitalise at home, it will fail internationally,” he says. “If it does, we may not necessarily fail internationally – but we will have to be intelligent to succeed. But if we continue to fail domestically, we will have no chance internationally, even if we do the right things.”

We are already toying with our respective starters – Brzezinski has a mixed green salad and I have gone for a beet salad. The Dubonnet is going down nicely. “We [Americans] are too obsessed with today,” Brzezinski continues. “If we slide into a pattern of just thinking about today, we’ll end up reacting to yesterday instead of shaping something more constructive in the world.” By contrast, he says, the Chinese are thinking decades ahead. Alas, Brzezinski says, Obama has so far failed to move into a strategic habit of mind. To a far greater extent than the Chinese, he concedes, Obama has to respond to shifts in public mood. Brzezinski is not very complimentary about American public opinion.

“Americans don’t learn about the world, they don’t study world history, other than American history in a very one-sided fashion, and they don’t study geography,” Brzezinski says. “In that context of widespread ignorance, the ongoing and deliberately fanned fear about the outside world, which is connected with this grandiose war on jihadi terrorism, makes the American public extremely susceptible to extremist appeals.” But surely most Americans are tired of overseas adventures, I say. “There is more scepticism,” Brzezinski concedes. “But the susceptibility to demagoguery is still there.”

When our main courses arrive, Brzezinski looks suspiciously at his steaming plate of duck ragù pasta. “It’s quite a large portion,” he says to the waiter, who does not reply. “And your plate of lasagne is also very big,” he says pointing at my dish. Unlike Brzezinski, who picks discriminatingly but never wholeheartedly at his main course, I have little difficulty finishing mine. We decline the waiter’s offer to follow our Dubonnet with a glass of wine. “This is quite enough, thank you,” says Brzezinski.

We return to the subject of ignorance, which Brzezinski lists as one of America’s six “key vulnerabilities” in his book alongside “mounting debt’, a “flawed financial system”, “decaying national infrastructure”, “widening income inequality”, and “increasingly gridlocked politics”. He contrasts the level of knowledge of Chinese policymakers with that of their American counterparts. Having befriended Deng Xiaoping, China’s former leader, who led the country out of its long dark Maoist night, Brzezinski is an unabashed admirer of China’s diplomatic skills. He even had Deng round to his DC home for dinner. The diminutive Chinese leader was amused when Brzezinski served him from a bottle of Russian vodka he had been given for Christmas by the Soviet ambassador.

“The Chinese are really good at diplomacy – and even at making their interlocutors feel very uncomfortable,” Brzezinski says. “Sometimes they look at you while you’re making a point and they start laughing. And you’re saying to yourself, ‘Am I really a fool? What am I saying that’s so ridiculous?’ I very early on realised that their negotiating technique is a form of masterful manipulation. I was also struck by how well informed the top Chinese leaders are about the world,” he says. “And then you watch one of our Republican presidential debates ... ” Brzezinski does not feel it necessary to complete the sentence but he later adds: “The GOP field is just embarrassing.”

I push him further on Obama. Shortly before our lunch, the president returned from Australia where he announced plans to deploy 2,500 Marines there to shore up alliances in Asia. This is exactly the kind of move that baffles Brzezinski. What’s wrong, I ask, with Obama’s so-called pivot to Asia ? Doesn’t it make sense to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and shift attention to the rising east?

When Brzezinski feels strongly, he barely pauses between paragraphs. “I was not aware that Australia was about to be invaded by Papua New Guinea, or by Indonesia,” he replies. “I assume most people think Obama was thinking of China. What’s worse is that the Chinese will think he’s thinking of China and to define our engagements in the east in terms of China is a mistake. We have to focus on Asia but not in a manner that plays on everyone’s anxieties ... It becomes very easy to demonise China and they will then demonise us in return. Is that what we want?”

The waiter removes our plates of which only mine is clean. We skip dessert and order coffee – a decaffeinated cappuccino for Brzezinski and a double espresso for me. I am curious about what Brzezinski thinks it will take to get the US back into a more pragmatic mindset. Could this year’s presidential election make a difference? Brzezinski looks pensive. “The question is, ‘Does Obama have it in his guts to strategise as well as sermonise?’ ” he asks. “I don’t know the answer to that. I really don’t know.”

Brzezinski quotes a senior Chinese official who reportedly said of America: “Please don’t decline too quickly”. He then lampoons the standard American candidate’s response to any talk of decline, which is simply to assert that America’s greatness will return if only people would believe in it. “ ‘Help is here. Smile a lot. Everything will disappear. It will be fine’ – well, sad to say, it doesn’t work that way. People are ignorant and scared. It will take more than that.”

Brzezinski admits he has voted Republican a couple of times in his life – notably in 1988 when he endorsed George HW Bush over Michael Dukakis. But in 2012 he would not dream of doing so. “A good election is one that would shape out in an intelligent victory by Obama,” he says. “There is no sign of that from the other side.” Which means Obama will win, I prompt? Not at all, says Brzezinski. “My fear is that two or three weeks before the election something will happen – an October surprise,” he continues. “If Iran was struck by Israelis during October, the negative effects would not be felt until late November and December. The first effect would be, ‘Ah, how wonderful. Let’s get behind the Israelis.’ Then all bets would be off.”

It seems like a downbeat note on which to conclude a lunch that has taken place at such high velocity. As the waiter hands me the bill, Brzezinski asks when was the last time I did something like this. I mention the late Christopher Hitchens with whom I had lunch a few years back. “Ah, now, that must have been lively,” says Brzezinski, his face brightening. I ask whether he watched the debate between Hitchens and Tony Blair about religion. Brzezinski’s expression alters. “That guy [Blair] is a lightweight,” he says. “I don’t like his political morals and how he’s been enriching himself since leaving office. He preaches high moral language but ... ” Brzezinski pauses as if wondering whether to continue. “I have a visceral contempt for Blair,” he says. “Not dislike. Just contempt.” The bill settled, Brzezinski departs as briskly as he arrived, and with another of those iron handshakes.
Niccolo and Donkey
I think this is the key takeaway. The solution seems flawed though - I'm not prone to second-guess Brezinski on strategic trends, but the ascendancy of an increasingly Islamified (as per policy) Turkey and its positioning as a leader of the Islamic world, coupled with its geopolitical rivalry w/Russia, precludes its entering both the ''Western'' fold and any staying power of a US/Russian/European/Turkish entente. In other words, America can back Russia or Turkey but not both; this should be clear to a guy who was one of the main architects of NATO grand strategy. Furthermore, an aged Europe, lacking in the political will to participate meaningfully in power politics, isn't going to 'revitalize' itself by bringing Turkey into its economic and political fold; its just going to invite an alien and often inimical perspective into its political culture.

What goes unsaid of course is the fact that American foreign policy after the end of Baker's tenure became Jewish dominated. The problem isn't simpy that Americans are simply prone to reflexive appeals and ''demagoguery''; the problem is that America's engagement with the Islamic world is framed by a savagely racial/sectarian perspective that is tailored to guard Israeli security interests that are neither sustainable nor in America's interests.

Finally, Brezinski and men like him aren't really thinking historically about the West's problems. The post-War experiment in great space world politics and globalism, concomitant with the ideology of democracy, simply failed - both for ontological and historical reasons. Exascerbating this of course has been a loss of spiritual capital in European societies and a kind of rudderless moralism in America that has been rendered entirely abstract and extricated from meaningful institutions and modes of life and cultural philosophy and theology.

I detect in Brezinksi the same kind of thing I do in Mearsheamer - a belief that political problems aren't inextricably bound to cultural states of being and historical processes that aren't resolvable by adept management or strategic planning or key alliances. If American policy corridors have been conquered by opportunists, Zionist ideologues, and self-interested Machiavellians, and Europe has exhausted its creative possibilities and become aged and passively nihilistic, there simply isn't a political solution available. Brez. is a Slav who thinks like an Englishman. He should have studied more Hegel and less Toynbee. His blind spots are those of seemingly every anti-Communist Pole who came of age in the immediate aftermath of 1945.
Niccolo and Donkey
It's interesting to note that Buchanan has been proven prescient once again in terms of grand strategy as he openly called for a European partnership across the North Atlantic and Russia as Communism retreated. Buchanan would of course have no truck with the notion of a Turkish inclusion in this strategy other than as part of NATO simply for the reasons that he isn't part of the international relations school that sees states as simply centres of minor or major power, without any inherent cultural/historical tendencies that colour their mentality. Brzezinski himself is disqualified from any honest rapproachment with Russia due to his post-Cold War agitation on behalf of truly anti-Russian forces in places like Tbilisi and Kiev. I still don't think he's given up on neutralizing Russia and that the author chose his words carefully to make it seem that Zbig is now more amenable to a partnership approach.

Zbig is definitely hitting out at Panetta's new Asian Policy as he's been a proponent of Chimerica which would serve three purposes:

1. rescue the USA economically
2. stack the deck against Russia
3. massively slow down or even halt American decline on the global stage

Ferguson says that Chimerica is dead :

I will certainly agree that the token placement of 2,500 marines in West Australia is a silly, albeit minor, provocation but one that does have a larger psychological effect on Sino-American relations.

What it effectively does is distort international relations as Israel has no check on their behaviour, thus leading them to irrationalism as Walt tells us and it takes away the American ability to be an "honest broker" as its partisanship is clear for all to see. It's bad policy and pisspoor diplomacy.
I've always detected something of Lindbergh and, in ''Death of the West'', something of Yockey's theory of culture* in Buchanan's thoughts on the Russians. Lindbergh identified China as the locus of a future geostrategic powerhouse that would manifest as the grand Oriental challenge to the White world in the future; and he believed that the USSR was in essence top-heavy with indigenous Russian elements who were a treasonous minority, buttressed by a security apparatus that was larded with Jews and other minority elements from the periphery of the former Russian empire. The subtext is that a ramparts defense against the colored world would contain an entente with Russia as an essential security component.

*Buchanan quoted the National Alliance's American Dissident Voices broadcast on page 92 of ''Death of the West'', and I've always believed Buchanan was writing, subtlely, for a White Nationalist audience. His writings on Russia since 1991-92 I believe reflect a serious reading of Yockey as well as a belief common to some Traditionalist Catholics that a full reconciliation in political terms should be pursued with Slavic Orthodox peoples. This probably warrants a thread of its own, as Buchanan has been in news lately.
Niccolo and Donkey

Please read thread and my post referring to Chimerica.
Niccolo and Donkey
Welund Broseph Bronze Age Pervert Endicott Peabody President Camacho Vuk

Spengler Goldman writes a good piece and doesn't go Israel-First in it. Quelle Surprise!

Lots of good stuff in here.

The Sino-American Comedy of Errors

Antonius Blockhead (more of Zigbiniew's ahistorical-antinational designs, blocking black separatism and Black/African identity). Black separatism would have been an interesting solution to the American Negro problem.

This Document is Exhibit 10 of U.S. Supreme Court Case No.00-9587


MARCH 17, 1978

Presidential Review Memorandum NSCM/46
TO: The Secretary of State

The Secretary of Defense

The Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT: Black Africa and the U.S. Black Movement

The President has directed that a comprehensive review be made of current developments in Black Africa from the point of view of their possible impacts on the black movement in the United States. The review should consider:

1. Long-term tendencies of social and political developments and the degree to which they are consistent with or contradict the U.S. interests.

2. Proposals for durable contacts between radical African leaders and leftist leaders of the U.S. black community.

3. Appropriate steps to be taken inside and outside the country in order to inhibit any pressure by radical African leaders and organizations on the U.S. black community for the latter to exert influence on the policy of the Administration toward Africa.

The President has directed that the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Africa perform this review. The review should be forwarded to the NSC Political Analysis Committee by April 20.


Zbigniew Brezinski

cc: The Secretary of the Treasury

The Secretary of Commerce

The Attorney General

The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff




Objective of our policy toward Black Africa is to prevent social upheavals which could radically change the political situation throughout the area. The success or failure of our policy in the region depends on the solution international and internal issues whose importance of the United States is on the increase.


A multiplicity of interests influences the U.S. attitude toward black Africa. The most important of these interests can be summarized as follows:


If black African states assume attitudes hostile to the U.S. national interest, our policy toward the white regimes; which is a key element in our relations with the black states, may be subjected by the latter to great pressure for fundamental change. Thus the West may face a real danger of being deprived of access to the enormous raw material resources of southern Africa which are vital for our defense needs as well as losing control over the Cape sea routes by which approximately 65% of Middle Eastern oil is supplied to Western Europe.

Moreover, such a development may bring about internal political difficulties by intensifying the activity of the black movement in the United States itself.

It should also be borne in mind that black Africa is an integral part of a continent where tribal and regional discord, economic backwardness, inadequate infrastructures, drought, and famine, are constant features of the scene. In conjunction with the artificial borders imposed by the former colonial powers, guerilla warfare in Rhodesia and widespread indignation against apartheid in South Africa, the above factors provide the communist states with ample opportunities for furthering their aims. This must necessarily redound to the detriment of U.S. political interests.


Black Africa is increasingly becoming an outlet for U.S. exports and investment. The mineral resources of the area continue to be of great value for the normal functioning of industry in the United States and allied countries. In 1977, U.S. direct investment in black Africa totaled about $1.8 billion and exports $2.2 billion. New prospect of substantial profits would continue to develop in the countries concerned.


Apart from the above-mentioned factors adverse to U.S. strategic interests, the nationalist liberation movement in black Africa can act as a catalyst with far reaching effects on the American black community by stimulating its organizational consolidation and by inducing radical actions. Such a result would be likely as Zaire went the way of Angola and Mozambique.

An occurrence of the events of 1967-68 would do grievous harm to U.S. prestige, especially in view of the concern of the present Administration with human rights issues. Moreover, the Administration would have to take specific steps to stabilize the situation. Such steps might be misunderstood both inside and outside the United States.

In order to prevent such a trend and protect U.S. national security interests, it would appear essential to elaborate and carry out effective countermeasures.

1. Possibility of Joint Action By U.S. Black and African Nationalist Movement.

In elaborating U.S. policy toward black Africa, due weight must be given to the fact that there are 25 millions American blacks whose roots are African and who consciously or subconsciously sympathies with African nationalism.

The living conditions of the black population should also be taken into account. Immense advances in the field are accompanied by a long-lasting high rate of unemployment, especially among the youth and by poverty and dissatisfaction with government social welfare standards.

These factors taken together may provide a basis for joint actions of a concrete nature by the African nationalist movement and the U.S. black community. Basically, actions would take the form of demonstrations and public protests, but the likelihood of violence cannot be excluded. There would also be attempts to coordinate their political activity both locally and in international organizations.

Inside the United States these actions could include protest demonstrations against our policy toward South Africa accompanied by demand for boycotting corporations and banks which maintain links with that country; attempts to establish a permanent black lobby in Congress including activist leftist radical groups and black legislators; the reemergence of Pan-African ideals; resumption of protest marches recalling the days of Martin Luther King; renewal of the extremist idea national idea of establishing an "African Republic" on American soil. Finally, leftist radical elements of the black community could resume extremist actions in the style of the defunct Black Panther Party.

Internationally, damage could be done to the United States by coordinated activity of African states designed to condemn U.S. policy toward South Africa, and initiate discussions on the U.S. racial issue at the United Nations where the African representation constitutes a powerful bloc with about one third of all the votes.

A menace to U.S. economic interests, though not a critical one, could be posed by a boycott by Black African states against American companies which maintain contact with South Africa and Rhodesia. If the idea of economic assistance to black Americans shared by some African regimes could be realized by their placing orders in the United States mainly with companies owned by blacks, they could gain a limited influence on the U.S. black community.

In the above context, we must envisage the possibility, however remote, that black Americans interested in African affairs may refocus their attention on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Taking into account; the African descent of American blacks it is reasonable to anticipate that their sympathies would lie with the Arabs who are closer to them in spirit and in some case related to them by blood. Black involvement in lobbying to support the Arabs may lead to serious dissention between American black and Jews. The likelihood of extremist actions by either side is negligible, but the discord may bring about tension in the internal political climate of the United States.

3. Political options

In the context of long-term strategy, the United States can not afford a radical change in the fundamentals of its African policy, which is designed for maximum protection of national security. In the present case, emphasis is laid on the importance of Black Africa for U.S. political, economic and military interests.


In weighing the range of U.S. interests in Black Africa, basic recommendations arranged without intent to imply priority are:

1. Specific steps should be taken with the help of appropriate government agencies to inhibit coordinated activity of the Black Movement in the United States.

2. Special clandestine operations should be launched by the CIA to generate mistrust and hostility in American and world opinion against joint activity of the two forces, and to cause division among Black African radical national groups and their leaders.

3. U.S. embassies to Black African countries specially interested in southern Africa must be highly circumspect in view of the activity of certain political circles and influential individuals opposing the objectives and methods of U.S. policy toward South Africa. It must be kept in mind that the failure of U.S. strategy in South Africa would adversely affect American standing throughout the world. In addition, this would mean a significant diminution of U.S. influence in Africa and the emergence of new difficulties in our internal situation due to worsening economic prospects.

4. The FBI should mount surveillance operations against Black African representatives and collect sensitive information on those, especially at the U.N., who oppose U.S. policy toward South Africa. The information should include facts on their links with the leaders of the Black movement in the United States, thus making possible at least partial neutralization of the adverse effects of their activity.


In connection with our African policy, it is highly important to evaluate correctly the present state of the Black movement in the Untied States and basing ourselves on all available information, to try to devise a course for its future development. Such an approach is strongly suggested by our perception of the fact that American Blacks form a single ethnic group potentially capable of causing extreme instability in our strategy toward South Africa. This may lead to critical differences between the United States and Black Africa in particular. It would also encourage the Soviet Union to step up its interference in the region. Finally, it would pose a serious threat to the delicate structure of race relations within the United States. All the above considerations give rise to concern for the future security of the United States.

Since the mid-1960s, when legislation on the human rights was passed and Martin Luther King murdered, federal and local measures to improve black welfare have been taken, as a result of which the U.S. black movement has undergone considerable changes.

The principle changes are as follows:

*Social and economic issues have supplanted political aims as the main preoccupations of the movement. and actions formerly planned on a nationwide scale are now being organized locally.

*Fragmentation and a lack of organizational unity within the movement.

*Sharp social stratification of the Black population and lack of policy options which could reunite them.

*Want of a national leader of standing comparable to Martin Luther King.


The concern for the future security of the United States makes necessary the range of policy options. Arranged without intent imply priority they are:

(a) to enlarge programs, within the framework of the present budget, for the improvement of the social and economic welfare of American Blacks in order to ensure continuing development of present trends in the Black movement;

(b) to elaborate and bring into effect a special program designed to perpetuate division in the Black movement and neutralize the most active groups of leftist radical organizations representing different social strata of the Black community: to encourage division in Black circles;

(c) to preserve the present climate which inhibits the emergence from within the Black leadership of a person capable of exerting nationwide appeal;

(d) to work out and realize preventive operations in order to impede durable ties between U.S Black organizations and radical groups in African states;

(e) to support actions designed to sharpen social stratification in the Black community which would lead to the widening and perpetuation of the gap between successful educated Blacks and the poor, giving rise to growing antagonism between different Black groups and a weakening of the movement as a whole.

(f) to facilitate the greatest possible expansion of Black business by granting government contracts and loans with favorable terms to Black businessmen;

(g) to take every possible means through the AFL-CIO leaders to counteract the increasing influence of Black labor organizations which function in all major unions and in particular, the National Coalition of Black Trade Union and its leadership including the creation of real preference for adverse and hostile reaction among White trade unionists to demands for improvement of social and economic welfare of the Blacks;

(h) to support the nomination at federal and local levels of loyal Black public figures to elective offices, to government agencies and the Court.

This would promote the achievement of a twofold purpose:

first, it would be easier to control the activity of loyal black representatives within existing institution;

second, the idea of an independent black political party now under discussion within black leadership circles would soon lose all support.