The Real Story of Zbigniew Brzezinski That the Media Isn’t Telling
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.”
President Reagan and Mujahideen leaders from Afghanistan
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:
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.
Featured image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
The Plot to Scapegoat Russia
Book Review of Dan Kovalik’s Book
The Cold War we are familiar with ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In his new book “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia,” lawyer and human rights activist Dan Kovalik writes about a new Cold War against Russia – and about the peace that never came. He discusses the role of the Democratic Party and the CIA, but his book centers on exploring the cause of why hostilities are back.
The real motivations of revived confrontation are hardly the stuff of day-to-day news, and so the author relies upon the historical record for discovering the origins of a new Cold War. Along the way he explains why the old Cold War was waged.
He regards the commonly – accepted explanation as a pretext: “the Cold War, at least from the vantage point of the US, had little to do with fighting ‘Communism,’ and more to do with making the world safe for corporate plunder.”Implicitly this proposition serves to account for other U. S. wars and interventions.
Without elaborating, Kovalik casts the CIA as the lead plotter in these intrusions. It has the right skills, he suggests, because it is “a nefarious, criminal organization which often misleads the American public and government into wars and misadventures,” In his own book, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” David Talbottraced the Cold War machinations of former CIA head Allen Dulles’ and thus was well qualified to provide an introduction for the present volume.
According to Talbot,
“Russia (long with China) is the only country capable of even marginally standing in the way of Washington’s vast imperial ventures.”
These two themes – the real reason for why the United States fights wars and the CIA’s role in such wars – set the tone for the history Kovalik recounts in his highly recommended book.
Readers hungry to know about the “plot” advertised in the book’s title will need patience. At the point Kovalik is discussing the current U. S. – Russia confrontation, he has already conducted a tour over time and across the world that surveyed U. S. interventions and foreign meddling. Having identified patterns of U. S. aggression, he presents a scenario that clarifies U. S. motivations for abusing Russia.
This book offers materialso encompassing as to belie its small size. Kovalik’s writing is clear, evocative, and readable. Along the way, he recalls those causes and the outrage that fired up activists who were his contemporaries. That’s a side benefit.
In college Kovalik learned about CIA machinations in Central America. Revelations from former agents Philip Agee, Ray McGovern, and John Stockman astonished him. His first trip to Nicaragua exposed him to a harvest of killings and terror. He learned first-hand about the role of Contra paramilitaries, recruited and paid for by the CIA. At one point he was comforting a father burying his son, killed by the Contras, along with 50,000 other Nicaraguans.
The author recalls the four churchwomen and six Jesuit priests murdered by U. S. – trained soldiers in El Salvador, U. S. support for soldiers and paramilitaries who killed and displaced populations in Colombia, and the CIA’s Operation Condor by which South American client states murderedpolitical enemies. He recounts U. S – instigated coups in Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; and Chile, 1973. Along the way he mentions U.S. war in Vietnam, occupation and war in Korea, nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, nuclear testing and dying in the Marshall Islands, and the CIA’srecruitment of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
This was the justification: keeping “the world safe from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism.” Then the Soviet Union was no more and the search was on for a new pretext. Having turned to “humanitarian intervention,” the Clinton administration soon was assisting the Paul Kagame regime in Rwanda and other African nations as they assaulted the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“US mining interests” were satisfied, Kovalik says, but “nearly six million people” people died.
Clinton’s government intervened in Haiti and participated in the destruction of Yugoslavia, Europe’s last socialist state.Supposed humanitarian motivations were behind the United States role in delivering Libya into chaos. For the author, U. S. pretensions and brutality stand in contrast to the relatively benign nature of Russian misdeeds.
More recently, in Kovalik’s telling, the U. S. government settled upon the rationalization of “American exceptionalism.” This is
“the belief that the US is a uniquely benign actor in the world, spreading peace and democracy.”
Thus terror was exported to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia acted as a U. S. proxy. The list includes the 2009 military coup in Honduras facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
For the author,
“The US’s outsized military exists not only to ensure the US’s quite unjust share of the world’s riches, but also to ensure that those riches are not shared with the poor huddled masses in this country.”
Good relations with Russia would be
“simply bad for business, in particular the business of war which so profoundly undergirds the US economy … As of 2015, the US had at least 800 military bases in over 70 nations, while Britain, France and Russia had only 30 military bases combined.”
“under Obama alone, the US had Special Forces deployed in about 138 countries.”
Having surveyed decades worth of U.S. interventions abroad, military and otherwise, Kovalik turns to Russia. In the early 1990s that fledgling capitalist state was in crisis, he reports. Life expectancy had plummeted, the poverty rate was 75 percent, and investments in the economy were down 80 percent. National pride was in the cellar, the more so after the United States backed away from Secretary of State Baker’s 1991 promise that NATO would never move east, after the United States attacked Russia’s ally Serbia, and after the United States attacked Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 without consulting Russia.
He regards Russia’s approach to Ukraine as defensible while reminding readers that Russia offered to cooperate with the United States in ending war in Syria. And U. S. claims about lack of democracy in Russia seem strained, especially when, as Kovalik insists, the United States abuses peoples the world over and itself suffers from a “severe democracy deficit.”
He argues that the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was obsessed with Russia and that Democrats currently are fueling hostilities, backed by a compliant media. He discusses WikiLeaks revelations about the Democratic Party and hacking attributed to the Russians.
He also suggests, without offering specifics, that the CIA is involved. Kovalik doesn’t comment on possible interaction between Trump campaign personnel and Russian officials.
US Army training in Iraq in support of the ‘Global War on Terrorism’
But prior to his discussion of confrontation with Russia, Kovalik had devoted considerable attention to why and how the United States harasses other countries. The reader, therefore, already knows never to expect U.S. imperialism to give Russia a break and knows why that is so.
Kovalik’s treatment of the Soviet Union is an essential part of his narrative. For one thing, many of the U. S. military interventions he reports on wouldn’t have occurred if the Soviet Union still existed. But basically,
“the Soviet Union, did wield sizable political and ideological influence in the world for some time, due to the appeal of its socialist message as well as its critical role in winning [World War] II.”
Kovalik acknowledges “periods of great repression.” He adds, however, that
“the Russian Revolution and the USSR … delivered on many of their promises, and against great odds. …. In any case, the goals of the Russian Revolution—equality, worker control of the economy, universal health care and social security— were laudable ones.”
“One of the reasons that the West continues to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union, and to emphasize the worst parts of that society and downplay its achievements, is to make sure that, as the world-wide economy worsens, and as the suffering of working people around the world deepens, they don’t get any notions in their head to organize some new socialist revolution with such ideals.”
Ultimately, Kovalik sides with Martin Luther King, who remarked that,
‘The US is on the wrong side of the world-wide revolution’–
and with Daniel Ellsberg’s clarification:
‘The US is not on the wrong side; it is the wrong side.’”
W. T. Whitney Jr. is a former pediatrician that now lives in Maine, USA. He usually writes articles on Latin America and casually on health care.
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Excerpt from the book:
An in-depth look at the decades-long effort to escalate hostilities with Russia and what it portends for the future.
Since 1945, the US has justified numerous wars, interventions, and military build-ups based on the pretext of the Russian Red Menace, even after the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991 and Russia stopped being Red. In fact, the two biggest post-war American conflicts, the Korean and Vietnam wars, were not, as has been frequently claimed, about stopping Soviet aggression or even influence, but about maintaining old colonial relationships. Similarly, many lesser interventions and conflicts, such as those in Latin America, were also based upon an alleged Soviet threat, which was greatly overblown or nonexistent. And now the specter of a Russian Menace has been raised again in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.
The Plot to Scapegoat Russia examines the recent proliferation of stories, usually sourced from American state actors, blaming and manipulating the threat of Russia, and the long history of which this episode is but the latest chapter. It will show readers two key things: (1) the ways in which the United States has needlessly provoked Russia, especially after the collapse of the USSR, thereby squandering hopes for peace and cooperation; and (2) how Americans have lost out from this missed opportunity, and from decades of conflicts based upon false premises. These revelations, amongst other, make The Plot to Scapegoat Russia one of the timeliest reads of 2017.