Brzezinski attacks Bush’s “suicidal statecraft”

WASHINGTON – Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to Pres. Jimmy Carter and architect of the late 1970s plan to back Muslim fundamentalists against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, has issued a scorching denunciation of the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” charging that it is “dangerously undercutting America’s seemingly secure perch on top of the global totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of regional origin into an international debacle.”

In a Tribune Media Services syndicated column, Brzezinski describes the Bush strategy as a “policy articulated with rhetorical excess and pursued with historical blindness” that will isolate the United States, making it “increasingly vulnerable to terrorist acts and less and less able to exercise a constructive global influence.”

Suggesting a significant shift in establishment thinking, Brzezinski’s widely distributed commentary argues that the policies pursued by Bush since 9/11 fit historian Arnold Toynbee’s definition of "suicidal statecraft." In the Middle East, “it has stamped the United States as the successor to British imperialism and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs,” he notes.

Describing the argument that so-called terrorists are motivated mainly by an abstract "hatred of freedom" as “self-delusion,” he says that their beliefs are shaped not only by ethnic myths and religious fanaticism but also by what they see on television “and especially by their feelings of outrage at what they perceive to be a brutalizing denigration of their religious kin’s dignity by heavily armed foreigners.”

Brzezinski adds that the U.S. decision to assist India‘s nuclear program in order to win that nation’s support for the war in Iraq and “as a hedge against China” has instead revealed a double standard concerning nuclear weapons proliferation.

“The budgets for the Department of Defense and for the Department of Homeland Security are now larger than the total budgets of most nations,” he writes, “and they are likely to continue escalating even as the growing budget and trade deficits are transforming America into the world’s no. 1 debtor nation.”

One of his main concerns is that, as a result of this approach, “large swathes of the world” are looking for ways to develop closer regional associations tied less to cooperation with the United States. “Geopolitical alienation from America could become a lasting and menacing reality,” he predicts.

As the founding director of the Trilateral Commission, which was influential during the Carter era, Brzezinski worked to develop an international power-sharing relationship between North America, Europe and Asia.

As an alternative to the current approach, he suggests that the president engage the Democratic leadership in a serious effort “to shape a bipartisan foreign policy for an increasingly divided and troubled nation.” The current path, he concludes, “is an exercise in catastrophic leadership.”