Carter’s Cold War strategist Brzezinski dies

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Carter’s Cold War strategist Brzezinski dies

Washington (AFP) – Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish Polish-born Cold War strategist and former top aide to US president Jimmy Carter, has died, his family said. He was 89.

“My father passed away peacefully tonight,” MSNBC journalist Mika Brzezinski said on Instagram late on Friday.

“He was known to his friends as Zbig, to his grandchildren as Chief and to his wife as the enduring love of her life. I just knew him as the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have,” she wrote.

Born in Warsaw to a diplomat father, Brzezinski moved with his family to Canada in the late 1930s. He went on to attend McGill University in Montreal then earned a doctorate from Harvard, later becoming a US citizen.

After serving under president Lyndon Johnson, he went on to become Carter’s national security adviser during the Iranian hostage crisis.

He was a driving force behind the failed US commando mission to rescue the hostages, after which he resigned. He believed Soviet influence would sweep through Iran if US strength did not prevail in the drama.

Nominally a Democrat, he leaned conservative on security matters. A tough critic of the Soviet Union, he also helped broker the Camp David accords and worked on normalizing relations with China.

Though a rigorous anti-communist, he held that US interests around the world should be addressed in terms of strategy and practicality, not ideology.

– ‘Superb public servant’ –

“He was an important part of our lives for more than four decades and was a superb public servant,” Carter said in a statement.

He passed away in Falls Church, Virginia, his family said.

Brzezinski was an active professor and author well into his 80s.

He did not support President Donald Trump’s election and criticized his foreign policy as vague. 

“Does America have a foreign policy right now?” he tweeted in February. 

“The President should outline why America is important to the world, but also why the world needs America.”

In 2011, he penned “Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power,” arguing that US strength abroad was key to global stability.

But it would depend on America’s ability to foster “social consensus and democratic stability” at home, he said, referring to the need for less income inequality and a meaningful response to climate change.

He developed his ties to Carter on the Trilateral Commission, the group David Rockefeller created in 1973 as a forum for political and business leaders from North America, Western Europe and Japan. 

Brzezinski was the commission’s first director.

– ‘Outstanding intellectual, proud Pole’ –

Tributes in his native land were effusive.

“The world has lost an outstanding intellectual, an experienced and effective diplomat, as well as an honorable man and a proud Pole,” Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said in a statement.

“He never forgot about the country of his origin. 

“Through his tough stance against the Soviet Union, Brzezinski played a key role in the process of the collapse of the totalitarian communist system, which had been imposed upon the countries of Central and Eastern Europe after World War II,” Waszczykowski added.

Writing on Twitter, Polish President Andrzej Duda also paid tribute.

“Zbigniew Brzezinski is gone. He was once the voice of Poland in the White House. A free Poland. Because he tirelessly strove for our freedom. 

“Thank you!”

Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Oslo, in December 2016
Copyright NTB Scanpix/AFP/File Terje BENDIKSBY

 

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