Saturday, October 27, 2007

Zbigniew Brzezinski on IRAQ,IRAN and 4 Presidents.

Zbigniew Brzezinski on IRAQ,IRAN and 4 Presidents.

Born on March 28, 1928, in Warsaw, Poland, the future national security adviser to President Carter and son of a Polish diplomat spent part of his youth in France and Germany before moving to Canada. He received a B.A. and M.A. in political science from McGill University, in 1949 and 1950 respectively, and in 1953 earned his doctorate in political science from Harvard. He taught at Harvard before moving to Columbia University in 1961 to head the new Institute on Communist Affairs. In 1958 he became a U.S. citizen. During the 1960s Brzezinski acted as an adviser to Kennedy and Johnson administration officials. Generally taking a hard line on policy toward the Soviet Union, he was also an influential force behind the Johnson administration's "bridge-building" ideas regarding Eastern Europe. During the final years of the Johnson administration, he was a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his presidential campaign.

In 1973, Brzezinski became the first director of the Trilateral Commission, a group of prominent political and business leaders and academics from the United States, Western Europe and Japan. Its purpose was to strengthen relations among the three regions. Future President Carter was a member, and when he declared his candidacy for the White House in 1974, Brzezinski, a critic of the Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy style, became his adviser on foreign affairs. After his victory in 1976, Carter made Brzezinski national security adviser.

Aiming to replace Kissinger's "acrobatics" in foreign policy-making with a foreign policy "architecture," Brzezinski was as eager for power as his rival. However, his task was complicated by his focus on East-West relations, and in a hawkish way -- in an administration where many cared a great deal about North-South relations and human rights. On the whole, Brzezinski was a team player. He emphasized the further development of the U.S.-China relationship, favored a new arms control agreement with Moscow and shared the president and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's view that the United States should seek international cooperation in its diplomacy instead of going it alone. In the growing crisis atmosphere of 1979 and 1980 due to the Iranian hostage situation, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a deepening economic crisis, Brzezinski's anti-Soviet views gained influence but could not end the Carter administration's malaise. Since his time in government, Brzezinski has been active as a writer, teacher and consultant
The Lobby
by David Remnick
September 3, 2007 Text Size:
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Large Text Print E-Mail Feeds Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer

“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”; Mearsheimer, John J.; Walt, Stephen M.; Israel; Lobbyists; Foreign Policy; Iraq War Last year, two distinguished political scientists, John J. Mearsheimer, of the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard, published a thirty-four-thousand-word article online entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” a shorter version of which appeared in The London Review of Books. Israel, they wrote, has become a “strategic liability” for the United States but retains its strong support because of a wealthy, well-organized, and bewitching lobby that has a “stranglehold” on Congress and American élites. Moreover, Israel and its lobby bear outsized responsibility for persuading the Bush Administration to invade Iraq and, perhaps one day soon, to attack the nuclear facilities of Iran. Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish a book-length version of Mearsheimer and Walt’s arguments on September 4th.

Mearsheimer and Walt are “realists.” In their view, diplomatic decisions should be made on the basis of national interest. They argue that in the post-Cold War era, in the absence of a superpower struggle in the Middle East, the United States no longer has any need for an indulgent patronage of the state of Israel. Three billion dollars in annual foreign aid, the easy sale of advanced weaponry, thirty-four vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel since 1982—such support, Mearsheimer and Walt maintain, is not in the national interest. “There is a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence,” they write, but they deny that Israel is of critical strategic value to the United States. The disappearance of Israel, in their view, would jeopardize neither America’s geopolitical interests nor its core values. Such is their “realism.”

The authors observe that discussion about Israel in the United States is often circumscribed, and that the ultimate price for criticizing Israel is to be branded an anti-Semite. They set out to write “The Israel Lobby,” they have said, to break taboos and stimulate discussion. They anticipated some ugly attacks, and were not disappointed. The Washington Post published a piece by the Johns Hopkins professor Eliot Cohen under the headline “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic.” The Times reported earlier this month that several organizations, including a Jewish community center, have decided to withdraw speaking invitations to Mearsheimer and Walt, in violation of good sense and the spirit of open discussion.

Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites or racists. They are serious scholars, and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity. They are right to describe the moral violation in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. (In this, most Israelis and most American Jews agree with them.) They were also right about Iraq. The strategic questions they raise now, particularly about Israel’s privileged relationship with the United States, are worth debating––just as it is worth debating whether it is a good idea to be selling arms to Saudi Arabia. But their announced objectives have been badly undermined by the contours of their argument—a prosecutor’s brief that depicts Israel as a singularly pernicious force in world affairs. Mearsheimer and Walt have not entirely forgotten their professional duties, and they periodically signal their awareness of certain complexities. But their conclusions are unmistakable: Israel and its lobbyists bear a great deal of blame for the loss of American direction, treasure, and even blood.

from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisIn Mearsheimer and Walt’s cartography, the Israel lobby is not limited to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is a loose yet well-oiled coalition of Jewish-American organizations, “watchdog” groups, think tanks, Christian evangelicals, sympathetic journalists, and neocon academics. This is not a cabal but a world in which Abraham Foxman gives the signal, Pat Robertson describes his apocalyptic rapture, Charles Krauthammer pumps out a column, Bernard Lewis delivers a lecture—and the President of the United States invades another country. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Exxon-Mobil barely exist.

Where many accounts identify Osama bin Laden’s primary grievances with American support of “infidel” authoritarian regimes in Islamic lands, Mearsheimer and Walt align his primary concerns with theirs: America’s unwillingness to push Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (It doesn’t matter that Israel and the Palestinians were in peace negotiations in 1993, the year of the first attack on the World Trade Center, or that during the Camp David negotiations in 2000 bin Laden’s pilots were training in Florida.) Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business.

It’s a narrative that recounts every lurid report of Israeli cruelty as indisputable fact but leaves out the rise of Fatah and Palestinian terrorism before 1967; the Munich Olympics; Black September; myriad cases of suicide bombings; and other spectaculars. The narrative rightly points out the destructiveness of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and America’s reluctance to do much to curtail them, but there is scant mention of Palestinian violence or diplomatic bungling, only a recitation of the claim that, in 2000, Israel offered “a disarmed set of Bantustans under de-facto Israeli control.” (Strange that, at the time, the Saudi Prince Bandar told Yasir Arafat, “If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy. This is going to be a crime.”) Nor do they dwell for long on instances when the all-powerful Israel lobby failed to sway the White House, as when George H. W. Bush dragged Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid peace conference.

Lobbying is inscribed in the American system of power and influence. Big Pharma, the A.A.R.P., the N.R.A., the N.A.A.C.P., farming interests, the American Petroleum Institute, and hundreds of others shuttle between K Street and Capitol Hill. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national-security adviser, recently praised Mearsheimer and Walt in the pages of Foreign Policy for the service of “initiating a much-needed public debate,” but he went on to provide a tone and a perspective that are largely missing from their arguments. “The participation of ethnic or foreign-supported lobbies in the American policy process is nothing new,” he observes. “In my public life, I have dealt with a number of them. I would rank the Israeli-American, Cuban-American, and Armenian-American lobbies as the most effective in their assertiveness. The Greek- and Taiwanese-American lobbies also rank highly in my book. The Polish-American lobby was at one time influential (Franklin Roosevelt complained about it to Joseph Stalin), and I daresay that before long we will be hearing a lot from the Mexican-, Hindu-, and Chinese-American lobbies as well.”

Taming the influence of lobbies, if that is what Mearsheimer and Walt desire, is a matter of reforming the lobbying and campaign-finance laws. But that is clearly not the source of the hysteria surrounding their arguments. “The Israel Lobby” is a phenomenon of its moment. The duplicitous and manipulative arguments for invading Iraq put forward by the Bush Administration, the general inability of the press to upend those duplicities, the triumphalist illusions, the miserable performance of the military strategists, the arrogance of the Pentagon, the stifling of dissent within the military and the government, the moral disaster of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, the rise of an intractable civil war, and now an incapacity to deal with the singular winner of the war, Iran—all of this has left Americans furious and demanding explanations. Mearsheimer and Walt provide one: the Israel lobby. In this respect, their account is not so much a diagnosis of our polarized era as a symptom of it. ♦

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski likened U.S. officials' saber rattling about Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions to similar statements made before the start of the Iraq war.

Machines use yellow cake to produce uranium hexafluoride near Tehran in February.

1 of 3 "I think the administration, the president and the vice president particularly, are trying to hype the atmosphere, and that is reminiscent of what preceded the war in Iraq," Brzezinski told CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday.

But Henry Kissinger, the former national security adviser and secretary of state under President Nixon, appeared not to doubt Iran's alleged ambitions.

"I believe they are building a capability to build a nuclear bomb," Kissinger told CNN. "I don't think they're yet in a position to build a nuclear bomb, but they may be two or three years away from it."

Earlier this month during a televised speech asserting that U.S. troops should not be immediately withdrawn from Iraq, President Bush said, "Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region."

However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes" that "insecurity in Iraq is detrimental to our interests."

Ahmadinejad landed in New York on Sunday to attend the U.N. General Assembly session, which opens Monday. Watch New Yorkers prepare for Ahmadinejad »

Brzezinski also disapproved of Bush's statement.

"When the president flatly asserts they are seeking nuclear weapons, he's overstating the facts," he said. "We are suspicious. We have strong suspicions, but we don't have facts that they are."

Brzezinski, who served under President Jimmy Carter, said he is not sure how to interpret Iran's intentions. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes.

"I think it's quite possible that they are seeking weapons or positioning themselves to have them, but we have very scant evidence to support that," he said. "And the president of the United States, especially after Iraq, should be very careful about the veracity of his public assertions."

Brzezinski, who is advising the Democratic presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, urged American officials to be patient, whatever Tehran's intentions may be.

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"If we escalate the tensions, if we succumb to hysteria, if we start making threats, we are likely to stampede ourselves into a war, which most reasonable people agree would be a disaster for us," he said.

"And just think what it would do for the United States, because it would be the United States which would be at war. We will be at war simultaneously in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we would be stuck for the next 20 years."

Kissinger said the international community should enlist support from countries opposed to Iran becoming a nuclear power.

"The current objective has to be to unite the countries that will suffer directly from Iranian nuclear weapons, the members of the Security Council and other countries in a program of diplomacy," he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated last week that Bush was committed to diplomacy when dealing with Iran, but has not taken any options off the table.

"We believe the diplomatic track can work," she said. "But has to work both with a set of incentives and a set of teeth."

During the "60 Minutes" interview, Ahmadinejad denied claims by the administration that Iranian weapons are being used against American troops in Iraq.

"We don't need to do that. We are very much opposed to war and insecurity [in] Iraq."

Ahmadinejad said U.S. officials are blaming his country for problems caused by the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"American officials, wherever around the world that they encounter a problem which they fail to resolve, instead of accepting that, they prefer to accuse others," he said. "I'm very sorry that, because of the wrong decisions taken by American officials, Iraqi people are being killed and also American soldiers."

Ahmadinejad also said Iran has no use for an atomic bomb.

"If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union," he said. "If it was useful, it would [have] resolved the problem the Americans have in Iraq. The time of the bomb is passed."

The International Atomic Energy Agency said last week it has verified that Iran's declared nuclear material has not been diverted from peaceful uses, though inspectors have been unable to reach conclusions about some "important aspects" of Iran's nuclear work.

Kissinger and Brzezinski also disagreed over whether Columbia University in New York should have offered to present a lecture by Ahmadinejad, scheduled for Monday.

Ahmadinejad has questioned whether the Holocaust happened and has made statements suggesting that Israel be politically "wiped off the map," though he insists that can be accomplished without violence.

Kissinger said Sunday on CNN that Columbia's invitation to the Iranian president to speak was not "appropriate."

Kissinger clarified, "I do not oppose his speaking. I oppose its sponsorship by Columbia University."

Brzezinski said Ahmadinejad should be able to speak.

"It seems to me a university's a place where ideas, issues -- very controversial issues -- should be discussed, can be discussed," Brzezinski said.

"Look, if his views are odious, we can say so, but we have a society of openness," he said. "If we start censoring in advance what it is we like to hear and what we don't hear, we're on a slippery slope."

Prior to departing Tehran, Ahmadinejad called his planned address to the General Assembly "a good opportunity for presenting the Iranian people's clear views regarding the problems of the world and materialization of peace and tranquility," IRNA, Iran's state-run news agency, reported Sunday.

Some students and Jewish leaders planned to protest at the Ivy League school, which last year withdrew a speaking invitation it had extended to the Iranian president after citing security concerns