Of the three ‘policy technocrats’ that Mr. Luce mentions in his essay on Zbigniew Brzezinski: Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and George Shultz, only Mr. Shultz had any real combat experience, as Mr. Scowcroft was a career military bureaucrat. Mr. Brzezinski’s hawkishness was not born of any military experience, but born out of an animus toward post-war Soviet Expansionism. Yet the Yalta agreement between Churchill, Stalin and FDR decided the matter well before the Cold War began. Here is a portion of the Wikipedia entry on Brzezinski that is revelatory of his hawkishness:
After attending Loyola High School in Montreal, Brzezinski entered McGill University in 1945 to obtain both his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees (received in 1949 and 1950 respectively). His Master’s thesis focused on the various nationalities within the Soviet Union. Brzezinski’s plan for pursuing further studies in the United Kingdom in preparation for a diplomatic career in Canada fell through, principally because he was ruled ineligible for a scholarship he had won that was open to British subjects. Brzezinski then attended Harvard University to work on a doctorate with Merle Fainsod, focusing on the Soviet Union and the relationship between the October Revolution, Vladimir Lenin‘s state, and the actions of Joseph Stalin. He received his doctorate in 1953; the same year, he traveled to Munich and met Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, head of the Polish desk of Radio Free Europe. He later collaborated with Carl J. Friedrich to develop the concept of totalitarianism as a way to more accurately and powerfully characterize and criticize the Soviets in 1956.
As a Harvard professor, he argued against Dwight Eisenhower‘s and John Foster Dulles‘s policy of rollback, saying that antagonism would push Eastern Europe further toward the Soviets. The Polish protests followed by the Polish October and the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 lent some support to Brzezinski’s idea that the Eastern Europeans could gradually counter Soviet domination. In 1957, he visited Poland for the first time since he left as a child, and his visit reaffirmed his judgement that splits within the Eastern bloc were profound. He developed his ideas he called “peaceful engagement.” He became an American citizen in 1958.
That Brzezinski felt the need to criticize Eisenhower and arch-reactionary, not to speak of perennial Cold Warrior, John Foster Dulles’ ‘policy rollback’ demonstrates the depth of Brzezinski’s unslakable bellicosity.
Mr. Luce then descends fully into his bailiwick of turgid New Cold War Political Melodrama:
The threats confronting today’s America require the meritocracy of intellect it nurtured in the cold war.
The question that confronts the reader is bathed in political nostalgia for a someone like the fearless, not to speak of stalwart, Brzezinski. Who will lead the ‘West’ out of the mire that is the collapse of the Post-War Settlement. And its integuments of NATO, the faltering EU and the European Central Bank as cudgel of the German Hegemon. And the rescue of the Free Market Mythology aided by the World Bank and the IMF: all of this propped up by American Political Will in the person of President Trump. While the Russians, under Putin’s leadership, are poised on the long border with Europe to do exactly what? Again this is the stuff of the small screen of America of 1952, except that the actors in this installment are different, but the places remain the same.
A link to a Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998 interview with Brzezinski is informative of America’s support for the Mujahadeen in July of 1979 , before the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979:
On the question of East Timor and the part played by Brzezinski, an excerpt from the National Security Archive :
In mid-1977, Carter Administration officials, led by then National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, blocked attempts (Document 23) by a U.S. Congressman, Donald Fraser (MN) to obtain a copy of the explosive cable transcribing President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger’s December 6, 1975 meeting with Indonesian President Suharto in which Ford and Kissinger “went out of their way on the eve of the GOI move on Timor to assure Suharto of an understanding attitude by the U.S.” Twenty four years later, in December 2001, the National Security Archive published the full text of this cable.
This last note of kowtowing to the Brzezinski Myth is about the utter lack of candor of Mr. Luce’s unstinting praise for another operative of The American National Security State, and the manufactured Pantheon of Policy Technocrats, laced with gloom.
Brzezinski’s legacy is a testament to the value of knowledge. The more you understand the world, the higher your chance of shaping it. By that measure, America is rapidly squandering its influence.
I had read a great many essay by Mr. Kennan in The New York Review of Books,the editors of that book review were his close political allies . And I was a subscriber/reader of that publication from 1970 to 2007. But after reading these books:
‘Kennan and the Art of Foreign Policy’ by Anders Stephenson
‘The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington’ by Gregg Herken
‘Joe Alsop’s Cold War: A Study of Journalistic Influence and Intrigue’ by Edwin Yoder
‘The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy: Brothers in Arms’ by
The historical insights offered by Stephenson, aided by the views offered by Mr. Herken, and the glances of Kennan offered by the other writes, and the forum writers led me to a more, how to say it? agnostic position on Kennan. Not taking away from his stand on the NATO expansion, and his opposition to the invasion and subjugation of the ‘Iraq War’ of 2003.
P.S. Mea culpa! not to forget these two books by Kennan:
Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy
At a Century’s Ending: Reflections 1982–1995