In the Foreign Policy Shadow of Dr. Brzezinski: Obama, Islamic Fundamentalism and Russia

Part I

Region:
Brzezinski, AP Photo

In August 25th 2007, presidential candidate Obama received the support of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, against the candidacy of Hillary Clinton on the (official) pretext that “being a former first lady doesn’t prepare you to be president”.

After two Republican mandates that he had strongly criticized, this close friend of David Rockefeller asserted that America needed “a new face” and “a new definition of its role in the world”.

Would the new America he vowed for reject the absurd choices made by the big-headed and unqualified Donald Rumsfeld, considered as an American disaster by his biographer Andrew Cockburn?

Would this new America pull out its troops from Afghanistan and Irak and replace its strong tendency to invade by a desire to dialogue with the rogue states, those countries who obstinately refuse to open their borders to the benevolent NATO forces and their wallets to the enriching whirlwinds of the Wall Street banks and hedge funds? “Something like that”, seemed to promise this apostle of the Manifest Destiny, while asserting that he was “willing to meet with the leaders of U.S. antagonists such as Iran and Venezuela”.

In front of such a position, the former first lady –who had probably taken offense of the harsh treatment of being publicly reduced to what she was, a former first lady, then said that he was “naive”.

You may believe, incidentally, that there had been serious debates about American foreign policy inside t he Democratic Party. But the sure thing was that there was no such thing as a good relationship between the hawkish democrat woman and the old veteran of tours and detours of modern diplomacy. But how could she say he was naive? How could she consider a man like that as naive?

The fact is that Zbigniew Brzezinski had a good intuition regarding the results of the elections.

Or was he told by his friends from the Center for a New American Security that the young Senator from Illinois would probably become president? We’ll never answer this question but, the sure thing is that even before he was elected Obama thanked Brzezinski. During the Iraq Speech on September 9th 2007, he stated that he couldn’t say enough about his contribution to the United States but gave the audience a few elements of an exemplary career and an exemplary profile:

  • Dr. B “helped to shape Camp David, and bring about a lasting peace between Israel and some of its neighbours, he’s somebody who has over decades framed some of the most prominent foreign policy specialists” in both parties,
  • “he is one of our most outstanding scholars, one of our most outstanding thinkers” and “has proven to be an outstanding friend and somebody who I have learned an immense amount from”.

But candidate Obama forgot to mention before the audience a key element of his idiosyncrasy: his frankness y his taste for truth.

Because we really can say that Dr. Brzezinski is a very frank man and his frankness is a direct consequence of the strength of the belief that keeps him going, a belief formerly expressed with these words by the neoconservative Project for a New American Century : American leadership is good for the world and good for America.

ZB_Khyber_Pass

Doctor Brzezinski waging war against the Russians, Kyber Pass, Pakistan, a few kilometres from the Afghan border on February 3rd,1980. What happened there was reported byThe Washington Post, February 4th 1980.

The best evidence – but not the only one – of Dr. Brzezinski’s “frankness” can be found in an interview published in the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur (15/01/1998) and entitled “Yes, the CIA went to Afghanistan before the Russians” in which the doctor confirms what the ex CIA director Robert Gates revealed in hisMemoirs – the same Robert Gates who was nominated as Secretary of Defense in 2006 and remained in his seat until 2011, let’s just say that almost until the end of the first Obama mandate –, the fact that the American secret service went into Afghanistan long before the date exposed by the “official version of history” which pretends that the US “aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980”.

According to Brzezinski, who knows what he’s talking about:

“Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention”.

Now the Russians arrived on December 24th. After confessing this manoeuvre, Obama’s favourite doctor in geopolitics soothes his remarks by saying:

“We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.”

It’s not a conspiracy then, just the arrangement of an action with the aim of increasing the probability of a particular response. Then the journalist asks him, maybe half-jokingly, if he “regrets any of this today”. The pleasant professor answers :

“Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. »

And he concludes, in an offhand manner, like a cowboy full of common sense and inaccessible to doubt:

“What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

According to Dr. B, those who claim that “Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today” are only talking “nonsense”. And he adds;

“There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner, without demagoguery or emotionalism. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among fundamentalist Saudi Arabia , moderate Morocco, militarist Pakistan, pro-Western Egypt, or secularist Central Asia? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries…”

Then, there’s no doubt about the fact that Dr. Brzezinski is a frank man. There’s also no doubt about the fact that in his opinion, the biggest enemy of America, the dead weight, the rock against which the marvellous wave of military and economic globalization is breaking, is Russia.

As far as Islamic fundamentalism is concerned, you’ll judge for yourself, since everyone has the right to a personal point of view given the fact that we live in the age of opinion : most people will believe what our politicians and journalists don’t stop repeating, those people we hear and see everywhere. They serve wheeler-dealer lobbies and their main function is to confiscate our freedom of speech and make us believe fairy tales about, for example, Islamic fundamentalists.

As far as I am concerned, I’ve made my mind : between Dr. Brzezinski and all those people who are used to telling lies and belong to the same Nomenklatura covered with hubris and stuffed with contempt, I’ve chosen Dr. B. Because he did something and tells us what he did, because he sincerely believes in what he says, and because “he is somebody who I have learned an immense amount from”.

Needless to say that I don’t share his belief about the role of America and I believe, contrary to him, that the American leadership is not good for the world and neither good for America. But I tend to believe him when he’s talking about facts.

Excerpts of Interview with Brzezinski from the translation of the French article made by William Blum and David N. Gibbs.

See below


ANNEX

Brzezinski Interview

The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998)

Translated from the French by William Blum and David N. Gibbs. This translation was published in Gibbs, “Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Retrospect,” International Politics 37, no. 2, 2000, pp. 241-242. For article full text, click here.

Original French version appeared in “Les Révélations d’un Ancien Conseilleur de Carter: ‘Oui, la CIA est Entrée en Afghanistan avant les Russes…’” Le Nouvel Observateur [Paris], January 15-21, 1998, p. 76. Click here for original French text.

Note that all ellipses appeared in the original transcript, as published in Le Nouvel Observateur.

Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. Is this period, you were the national securty advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?

B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q : When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan , nobody believed them . However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime , a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B : What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q : “Some agitated Moslems”? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today…

B: Nonsense! It is said that the West has a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid: There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner, without demagoguery or emotionalism. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is t h ere in com m on among fundamentalist Saudi Arabia , moderate Morocco, militarist Pakistan, pro-Western Egypt, or secularist Central Asia? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries…

 

Additional Sources:

The memoirs referred to in the interview are Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), pp. 143-49. Written by a former CIA director, this book first revealed the covert support for the Mujahiddin, prior to the invasion.

Washington Post correspondent Steve Coll downplays the significance of the CIA operation. He presents declassified documents from Brzezinski that express deep concern about the Soviet invasion. According to Coll, the documents “show no hint of satisfaction” from Brzezinski, regarding the invasion. Note, however, that Brzezinski’s 1983 memoirs clearly do imply some satisfaction regarding the Soviet invasion (Coll neglects to mention this).

See Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004), pp. 50-51, 581, footnote 17; and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Advisor, 1977–1981 (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983), p. 429.

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