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WAMC Speakers Corner
Wed December 10, 2008
Dowmel Lecture: Zbigniew Brzezinski
Great Barrington, MA – The son of a diplomat, Brzezinski was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1928. From 1977 to 1981, he was National Security Advisor to former president Jimmy Carter and in 1981 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in the normalization of U.S.-Chinese relations and for his contributions to the human rights and national security policies of the United States.
Principal policy contributions include:
1960's: articulated the strategy of peaceful engagement for undermining the Soviet bloc and persuaded President Johnson, while serving on the State Department Policy Planning Council, to adopt peaceful engagement as the U.S. strategy, placing detente ahead of German reunification and thus reversing prior U.S. priorities.
1970's-1980's: advocated formation of the Trilateral Commission in order to more closely cement U.S. Japanese-European relations. While serving in The White House, emphasized the centrality of human rights as a means of placing the Soviet Union on the ideological defensive; assisted the President in Camp David I to attain the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty; actively supported Polish Solidarity and the Afghan resistance to Soviet invasion; played leading role in normalization of U.S.-Chinese relations and in the development of joint strategic cooperation; provided covert support for national independence movements in the Soviet Union. By the 1980s, Brzezinski argued that the general crisis ofthe Soviet Union foreshadowed communism's end. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he spent the 1990s warning that global discord may get out of control and formulated a geostrategy for U.S. global preponderance.
1990's: formulated the strategic case for buttressing the independent statehood of Ukraine; promoted "geopolitical pluralism" in the space of the former Soviet Union; developed "a plan for Europe" urging the expansion of NATO; served as U.S. Presidential emissary to Azerbaijan in order to promote the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline; made the case for the expansion of NATO to the Baltic Republics; urged a U.S. leadership role in the world, based on established alliances, and warned against unilateralist policies that could destroy U.S. global credibility and precipitate U.S. global isolation.
Present: Brzezinski also became a leading critic ofthe Bush administration's "war on terror." He has been outspoken in his criticism of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent conduct of the war. He currently feels that we have increased our number of enemies a~d that the global antagonism towards the U.S. is much higher than before and that the U.S. is more isolated internationally than at any point in its history.
Brzezinski lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and is one of Senator Barack Obama's foreign policy supporters for the presidential campaign of 2008.
Dr. Brzezinski received a B.A. and M.A. from McGill University (1949, 1950) and Ph;D. from Harvard University (1953). He was a member ofthe faculties of Columbia University (1960-1989) and Harvard University (1953-1960). Dr. Brzezinski holds honorary degrees from Georgetown University, Williams College, Fordham University, College of the Holy Cross, Alliance College, the Catholic University of Lublin, Warsaw University, and Vilnius University. He is married to Czech-American sculptor Emilie Benes, with whom he has three children.