Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Event: 04/21/04: The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership; Zbigniew Brzezinski

I've heard, on more than one occasion, that 'zeh-Big' is 'zeh-sh*t', so I'm gonna check him out. Zbigniew Brzezinski (Zeh-BIG-new Breh-ZIN-skee) is a cold war hardliner - he's smart, a team player, well-respected, worked for several presidents, and deplores Bush's foreign policy (profile).

Found the listing for this book tour event at the Washington City Paper's 'Arts & Events' page:

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, discusses and signs copies of The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Library of Congress, Madison Building, Mumford Room, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Thu., 4/22, at 6:30 p.m. Free. (202) 707-3302.

UPDATE: Zbig was awesome. Funny. Insightful. Fair. Kept as non-partisan as possible in spite of the Bush Administration's horrificly assinine and lobsided policies. He repeated a bunch of stuff from the speech he gave earlier this year at the conference called New American Strategies for Security and Peace, sponsored by the Center for American Progress. READ THIS SPEECH! I'll repeat a couple of anecdotes/insights from his remarks today, some of which repeated what was said in his earlier speech, and add some unique aspects from this appearance:

Several points from Zbig's speech:

  • US foreign policy has been extremely successful for several decades (since WW II). The reason is because we've always had a balanced foreign policy based on bipartisan ideals of what national security meant.

  • Extremist foreign policy views of Bush Administration will be rejected at the ballot box.

  • Bush's rhetoric is dangerous. The 'you are either with us or against us' spiel was originally used by Stalin. This was a 'wow moment' for the audience.

  • Bush's invokation of 'God' in almost all of his decisions is dangerous. Specifically, Bush's reliance stricly on God to provide Bush all his foreign policy decisions is dangerous because it comes from 'within Bush' - meaning he's not consulting with anyone outside himself - meaning he is really not being influenced by people who really know what they're doing. This 'from within himself' got a few laughs from the audience, as did Zbig's several other rips on Bush's complete reliance on God to make Bush's decisions for him.

  • No European population majority 'likes' the US.

  • A significant percentage of Eurpeans (20+%?) answered 'yes' when asked the following question: Are you disappointed that Iraq didn't resist the American invasion more effectively? The reason Zbig thinks this is signficant is because it's not an insignificant number - say 2% or so, wich we might be able to write-off as an extremist position, but also because of what Zbig thinks the real meaning of this question is. Translated, he think's the question is really asking: Are you disappointed that more Americans weren't killed during the invasion?

  • Tells the 'de Gaulle' story. This is brutal. Zbig's point here is that America's power to persuade other counties - allies and foes alike, without really having to persuade them, is a great power that we have lost with the Bush Administration. This ties into the whole 'soft power' argument. Here's the text from his original speech earlier in the year:

    Ladies and gentlemen, forty years ago almost to the day an important Presidential emissary was sent abroad by a beleaguered President of the United States. The United States was facing the prospect of nuclear war. These were the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Several emissaries went to our principal allies. One of them was a tough-minded former Secretary of State, Dean Acheson whose mission was to brief President De Gaulle and to solicit French support in what could be a nuclear war involving not just the United States and the Soviet Union but the entire NATO Alliance and the Warsaw Pact.

    The former Secretary of State briefed the French President and then said to him at the end of the briefing, I would now like to show you the evidence, the photographs that we have of Soviet missiles armed with nuclear weapons. The French President responded by saying, I do not wish to see the photographs. The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me. Please tell him that France stands with America.

    Would any foreign leader today react the same way to an American emissary who would go abroad and say that country X is armed with weapons of mass destruction which threaten the United States? There’s food for thought in that question.

  • The Afghan people helped the US fight in Afghanistan because they felt greatly indebted to the US for helping them get rid of the Russians 20 years ago. This same sympathy was not present in Iraq.

  • 19,000+ British soldiers and civilians were fighting in the First Afghan War. Only 1 made it back to safe-haven of still-English-controlled India. Right now, the US has 20,000 soldiers in Afghanistan - with no heavy armor. Think about it. (My limited research shows that of those 15,000+ people, only 3,000 or so were soldiers. They were cut off from their supplies and slowly massacred as they made their way back towards safety.)

Some stuff from the short Q&A session held after Zbig's remarks:

  • Q: [Think this came-out spontaneously. Either that, or I just don't remember the question!]

    A: Shortly after 9/11, Zbig had lunch with the UK foreign secretary (Jack Straw?). Zbig said we are going to have to deal with Iraq now. He stressed that he didn't think anything close to war would be necessary, but he did think the US would have to deal with Iraq. The foreign secretary for the UK said that we (US and UK) should not touch Iraq. The reason, then, that Tony Blair decided to back the US on the War in Iraq was a strategic decision that would strongly align the UK with the US. It was a way to guarantee the UK's security, and also regain some prominence they lost since the 'good old days' of their empire.

  • Q: If we didn't import 50% of our oil, would we (the US) still pay so much attention to the Middle East?
    A: If my aunt had whiskers, she'd be my uncle. Our dependence on Middle Eastern oil is the reality, unfortunately.

This gathering was held at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.