Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, died Friday at a hospital in Virginia at the age of 89. Though the New York Times acknowledged that the former government advisor was a “hawkish strategic theorist,” misrepresenting his legacy as one of otherwise infinite positivity may not be as easy as the establishment might like to think.
As the United Kingdom plays around with levels of the so-called “terror threat” following a devastating attack by an ISIS-inspired individual — and as the Philippines goes into an almost complete state of martial law following ISIS-inspired destruction — Brzezinski’s timely death serves as a reminder to seek a deeper understanding of where modern terrorism originated in the first place.
As the New York Times explains, Brzezinski’s “rigid hatred of the Soviet Union” guided much of America’s foreign policy “for better or worse.” From the Times:
“He supported billions in military aid for Islamic militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He tacitly encouraged China to continue backing the murderous regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, lest the Soviet-backed Vietnamese take over that country.” [emphasis added]
While it is progressive of the New York Times to note Brzezinski’s support for Islamic militants, downplaying the effect of his vindictive foreign policy agenda with a mere sentence does an injustice to the true horror behind Brzezinski’s policies.
Because a 1973 coup in Afghanistan had installed a new secular government that was leaning towards the Soviets, the U.S. endeavored to undermine this new government by organizing multiple coup attempts through America’s lackey states, Pakistan and Iran (the latter was under the control of the U.S.-backed Shah at the time.) In July 1979, Brzezinski officially authorized aid to the mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan to be delivered through the CIA’s program “Operation Cyclone.”
Many people defend America’s decision to arm the mujahideen in Afghanistan because they believe it was necessary to defend the country and the wider region from Soviet aggression. However, Brzesinski’s own statements directly contradict this rationale. In a 1998 interview, Brzezinski admitted that in conducting this operation, the Carter administration had “knowingly increased the probability” that the Soviets would intervene militarily (suggesting they began arming the Islamist factions before the Soviets invaded, making the rationale redundant since there was no invasion Afghanistan freedom fighters needed to repel at the time). Brzezinski then stated:
“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: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”
This statement went further than merely boasting at the instigation of war and the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union. In his memoir, entitled “From the Shadows,” Robert Gates — former CIA director under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and secretary of defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama — directly confirmed this covert operation began six months prior to the Soviet invasion with the actual intention of luring the Soviets into a Vietnam-style quagmire.
Brzezinski knew exactly what he was doing. The Soviets were then bogged down in Afghanistan for approximately ten years, fighting an endless supply of American-supplied weapons and trained fighters. At the time, the media even went so far as to laud Osama bin Laden — one of the most influential figures in Brzezinski’s covert operation. We all know how that story ended.
Even with full knowledge of what his CIA-funded creation had become, in 1998 Brzezinski stated the following to his interviewers:
“What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”
The interviewer at the time, refusing to allow this answer to pass, retorted:
“Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.”
Brzezinski dismissed this statement outright, replying: “Nonsense!”
This occurred back when the journalists asked government officials pressing questions, a rare occurrence today.
Brzezinski’s support for these radical elements led directly to the formation of al-Qaeda, which literally translates to “the base,” as it was the base in which to launch the repulsion of the anticipated Soviet invasion. It also led to the creation of the Taliban, a deadly entity currently deadlocked in an endless battle with NATO forces.
Further, despite Brzezinski’s statements, which attempt to depict a lasting defeat of the Russian empire, the truth is that for Brzezinski, the cold war never ended. Though he was a critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Brzezinski’s stranglehold over American foreign policy continued right up until his death.
It is no coincidence that in Syria, the Obama administration deployed an Afghanistan-quagmire-type strategy toward another Russian ally — Assad in Syria. A cable leaked by Wikileaks dated December 2006 — authored by William Roebuck, who was chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Damascus at the time — stated:
“We believe Bashar’s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.” [emphasis added]
Much like Operation Cyclone, under Barack Obama, the CIA was spending approximately $1 billion a year training Syrian rebels (to engage in terrorist tactics, nonetheless). The majority of these rebels share ISIS’ core ideology and have the express aim of establishing Sharia law in Syria.
Just like in Afghanistan, the Syrian war formally drew in Russia in 2015, and Brzezinski’s legacy was kept alive through Obama’s direct warning to Russia’s Vladimir Putin that he was leading Russia into another Afghanistan-style quagmire.
So where might Obama have gotten this Brzezinski-authored playbook from, plunging Syria further into a horrifying six-year-long war that has, again, drawn in a major nuclear power in a conflict rife with war crimes and crimes against humanity?
The answer: from Brzezinski himself. According to Obama, Brzezinski is a personal mentor of his, an “outstanding friend” from whom he has learned immensely. In light of this knowledge, is it any surprise that we saw so many conflicts erupt out of nowhere during Obama’s presidency?
On February 7, 2014, the BBC published a transcript of a bugged phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. In that phone call, the representatives were discussing who they wanted to place in the Ukrainian government following a coup that ousted Russian-aligned president Viktor Yanukovych.
Lo and behold, Brzezinski himself advocated taking over Ukraine in his 1998 book, The Grand Chessboard, stating Ukraine was “a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard…a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country (means) Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.” Brzezinski warned against allowing Russia to control Ukraine because “Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”
Following Obama, Donald Trump came into office with a completely different mentality, willing to work with Russia and the Syrian government in combatting ISIS. Unsurprisingly, Brzezinski did not support Trump’s bid for the presidency and believed Trump’s foreign policy ideas lacked coherence.
All that being said, just last year Brzezinski appeared to have changed his stance on global affairs and instead began to advocate a “global realignment” — a redistribution of global power — in light of the fact that the U.S. is no longer the global imperial power it once was. However, he still seemed to indicate that without America’s global leadership role, the result would be “global chaos,” so it seemed unlikely his change in perception was rooted in any actual meaningful change on the geopolitical chessboard.
Further, the CIA’s very existence relies on the idea of a Russian threat, as has been evidenced by the agency’s complete assault on the Trump administration whenever it appears détente is possible with the former Soviet Union.
Brzezinski died safely in a hospital bed, unlike the millions of displaced and murdered civilians who were pawns in Brzezinski’s twisted, geopolitical chess games of blood and lunacy. His legacy is one of militant jihadism, the formation of al-Qaeda, the most devastating attack on U.S. soil by a foreign entity in our recent history, and the complete denigration of Russia as an everlasting adversary with which peace cannot — and should not — ever be attained.