Zbigniew Brzinski's Chatham House Speech
(Zbigniew Brzinski - Audience applauses)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Robin. Thank you very
much for your as always elegant and eloquent introduction. I've heard
him many times when he was running the
Center for Strategic and International Studies
in Washington and if anything his eloquent and elegant has increased
ever since he's been rehabilitated in the society here. (Audience
laughs; ah ah ah...)
I am also delighted to speak under the
sponsorship of the Whitehead lecture series. John Whitehead whom I've
been privileged to know for many years. I'll not talk about at length
but it is advised to say, that he was in my judgment, the best deputy
secretary of state the United States has ever had, he should have been
secretary of state.
And than finally the third comment which may
however precipitate some rapid departures from this room. But I want to
emphasize that I speak for myself only, I speak for no one else the
views I express are only my views. I want to emphasize that.
Well we meet at a time of course when the new President is assuming
office in the United States. And he's doing so, in the midst of a crises
of confidence in Americas capacity to exercise effective leadership in
world affairs. That's a stark thought but it is a fact. Though American
leadership over the last number of decades has been essential to global
stability and to global development.
After the United States replaced Great
Britain as the key power in the world. It is still non the less a fact,
said fact, that the cumulative effects of National financial
self-indulgence. Of an unnecessary war of our own choice. And of ethical
transgressions have cumulatively discredited that leadership.
And making matter worse today, we have the
financial crises. And all of that is occurring in the context of the
simultaneous interaction between two very basic transforming
developments in the world scene. So, the picture is complex indeed. The
first change concerns the surfacing of global issues, pertaining to
human well being as critical international issues. Well that's new in
human history! Issues such as climate, environment, starvation, health,
All of these are compounding the complexity
of the global context. And these issues furthermore are made more acute
by the coincidental phenomenon, of what I've called in my writings; "the
global political awakening."
This is a truly trans formative event on the
global scene; Namely for the first time in human history, for the first
time in all of human history, almost all of mankind is politically
awake, activated, political conscious, and interactive. There are a view
pockets of humanity here or there in the remotest corners of the world,
which are not politically alert and interactive with the political
turmoil and starrings and aspirations around the world.
And all of that is creating a world wide
search in the quest for personal dignity
and cultural respect in a diversified world, sadly accustomed, for many
centuries, to domination by one portion of the world of another. That is
an enormous change! And beyond that is interacting with still a further
change namely in the distribution of global power. It pertains to
something very obvious of which we are aware but which is important to
register. Namely that we are living in a time of a basic shift away from
the 500 years long global domination by the Atlantic powers. It is the
countries that have been located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
And that has recalled them, Portugal, Spain,
France, The Netherlands, Great Britain, more recently the United States,
that have dominated the world affairs and that shift now is taking us
towards Asia. It is not the End of the preeminence of the Atlantic world
but it is now the surfacing of the Pacific region. And most notably
Japan the number two economic power. And China a putative global power.
That are now occupying a preeminent place in the global hierarchy. And
of course beyond them there is the question of India's future
development building although it is currently still in the wings.
And it is also complicated by the
reappearance of Russia which is something to be welcomed but a Russia
which is still restless. Rather unclear about this undefinition very
undefined about it's recent past. And the very insecure about it's place
in the world. And these new and old mayor powers face still yet another
novel reality in some respects unprecedented. And it is that while the
lethality the lethality of their power is greater than ever.
Their capacity to oppose control over the
politically awakened masses of the world is at A historical low. I once
put it rather bundchendly and I was flattered that the British foreign
secretary repeated this, as follows; Namely in earlier times it was
easier to control an million people literally it was easier to control
an million people than physically, to kill a million people.
Today it is infinitely easier to kill a
million people, than to control a million people. It is easier to kill
than to control (Brzezinski breaths-sniffs true is nose inside;
And of course that bears directly on the use
of force particular by societies that are culturally alien over other
societies. And something that perhaps some recent American policy makers
did not fully assimilate. It should follow therefore from that not as a
matter of surprise that the crises of leadership of American leadership
in the world, the ongoing crises could become the crises of global
Because yet there is a other consideration
to bear in mind that the despite Schadenfreude about the domestic
problems in the United States. Or about the loss of respectability for
American global leadership. It is a fact that no state, no single state,
nor any combination of states, can in the foreseeable future replace the
linchpin role that the United States continuous to play in the world.
And if anybody had any doubt about it and
there where some countries which in recent years, in recent weeks
expressed Schadenfreude without internal difficulties. Than look at the
collective global pilgrimage to Washington in the course of the last
Because everybody knows that that is where the only possible decisions
for recovery can be made. And everybody knows that if there is no
recovery over there! There will be no recovery anywhere else. So, in
that sense the cre.., central role of the United States in world affairs
is still there. Despite all of the difficulties, despite some of the
loss of respect or effectiveness.
And it also means that the monumental task
facing the new American President. In the realm of foreign policy beyond
dealing with the immediate financial crises is, to regain global
legitimacy, for the United States, by spearheading, a collective effort,
for more inclusive global system of management.
A more inclusive system of global
management. That has to be the task of the United States of this
historical era. And in my own view, for, for little but strategically
pregnant words define the essence of the needed responds of the new
American President about to assume office. It is to unify, to enlarge,
to engage and to pacify. Let me speak briefly, to each, of this, words;
And than we can perhaps have a discussion but that's I know an important
part of this undertaking.
To unify in my judgment pertains particularly to the needed sustained
effort and energetic effort, serious effort, to generate truly shared
decision making between the United States and the European Union and
also in NATO. And how to achieve that is of course a long standing
objective but one which has to be pursuit with intensified urgency,
given the present circumstances. To meet means both formal and informal
regularized top level consultations.
Between Europe and America, something that's
needed, particularly in the light of what has transpired over the last
eight years. But of course it's much easier to state this than to
accomplish it. And one of the very major reasons for that is something
of which, we over there and you over here are very well aware, namely;
There is not such a thing yet as a political unified Europe. And the
absence of such a politically unified Europe creates real complications
in the process of revitalizing - reestablishing and making central, a
renewed transatlantic dialog.
What then in that context is a viable
alternative when considered of course in the institutional arrangements
the treaty of Lisbon and so forth.... But that doesn't deal with
political realities. The political reality is, of intra European
divisions, and some east strategic issues, and great disparities of
power among the various components - sovereign components of the
Enhanced in this context, what is practical
in the near future, is essentially a more deliberate dialog between
three European countries that had a global orientation, and in varying
degrees a global interest, and obviously that is; The U.K., French and
Germany. But that dialog intern can only be effective and be meaningful
if the three have, a basic, fundamental, strategic consensus, among
And one of the problems of the last eight
years, irrespective of our own shortcomings in foreign policy is; That
there was no European partner for the United States for us to take
seriously, and to give us honest advise and to try to share common
courses in action. We had a very loyal alley, a close personal alley, in
the country with which we
have the greatest kinship, namely, this country. But if there is
responsibility for the war of unfortunate choice that we undertook to
wage, it has to be shared precisely with that partner. Who publicly
defended it vigorously, privately advocated it, even if at the same time
whispering some reservations or making alternative suggestions, which
could be safely ignored because the public praise was what's important
and was parqueted and politically very useful.
And the other two partners engaged
essentially in differentiated competition in public denunciations of our
policies, merited indeed but always painful. And wasn't conducive than
doing serious dialog, there was no dialog to be perfectly blunt about it
between Bush and Chancellor Schroeder. Nor was there much of a dialog
between President Bush and President Chirac.
Who in the process incidentally offended a
good part of Europe by telling, IT, to shut up! When it was declined to
support the United States. So, the basic need for the transatlantic
dialog is that there be in some fashion; A political dialog that carries
weight substance and entails respect from America, and a willingness to
share both in the decision making and burdens on the part of the
And there is no alternative it seems to me
for the moment, except for an informal arrangement between the three- if
they can come to share a common strategic purpose! And that is something
the Europeans need to do, whether we need to be more willing to engage
in serious dialog. Together in spite of the relative decline of Atlantes
supremacy of the world the fact remains, that the U.S. and the EU
together account for more than one half of the global GDP.
And that is an enormous source of weight!
But for us to be effective, we have to be willing to discuss strategic
choices, and I'll come to some in a minute, and than be willing to
undertake jointly the resulting burdens. Alas! For to many years now the
general pattern has been, that we make the decisions, and than expect
the Europeans to share in the burdens.
And for to many years the European complaint
has been, that, the Europeans are excluded from decision making but it
shouldn't be the U.S. that carries the heavy load. And there is no
better example of that than the current problems that we face and I'll
come to them in Afghanistan.
It does occur to me that perhaps in the new
U.S. administration the deliberate effort to revitalize at the highest
level, the American European dialog, could be the task assigned to the
Who has special expertise in foreign
affairs, knows this continent well, is known by the elite. It cannot be
a full time job .... The second verb that I used was to enlarge. And to
enlarge to me means deliberate effort to nurse a widen world wide
coalition of principle partners. Not the key partners themselves not the
key strategic partners but of principle partners. Who committed to the
principle of interdependence and are in fact major players in the
context of their emerged global interdependence.
And that too means an effort to engage in a
systematic bases in consultations. It also means some
institutionalization of that process. I think it is evident by now that
the G7 later 8 has outlived it's function. G7 started as an informal
counsel of the advanced industrial democratic societies.
Russia was then added to it and certainly it is an industrialized
society. It's democratic credentials at the time of addition, where
perhaps debatable but they where, to some extend, there. Today they are
much less in evidence. And in any case a narrow group like this no
longer accounts for the realities of the modern world.
It doesn't follow from it however that G20
needs to be institutionalized as the functional equivalent of the G8. I
would probably personally, if I have the opportunity to define the
membership, opt for something more like G14 or G16 that has to say
countries that have a economic weight but also political or
Geo-political strategic weight, on a regional bases. And than it would
still mean a much more representative process of consultation and the
beginnings of a rundamantary, rudimentary system of global
In many respects the meeting of the G20
initiates that process and it will be repeated over time and hopefully
also will give birth to the emergence of something of this sort which is
clearly needed beyond the formal mechanisms of the U.N., which, while
formal, are also almost, eternal, because it requires consensus to
change them. And those who benefited the most from the arrangements made
in 1954 are clearly not prepared to reform the U.N. to reflect the
modern realities of global power.
So, in that sense something outside the U.N.
is, an essential, imperative. To engage, in my judgment, involves at the
same time, as the other two, the creation of, an very informal - not
institutionalized, process of regular informal dialog among the key
strategic powers of the world. That is needed and is particularly needed
in order to engage China in the process of global responsibility, global
sharing, global interdependence. China is, The most important rising
power in the world.
And without China many of the key problems
that we face cannot effectively addressed with China, they have a higher
prospect, of being, responsible, met. And China so far at least is
generally constructive in it's international conduct. It is economically
nationalist and that is a problem. But it is fundamentally a cautious
and patient revisionist power. Cautious, patient, revisionist power. It
wants the international system to change, but it is cautious in the way
it's pursuing that objective. And it is patient.
And one of the hole markers of the Chinese
leadership is fore site and patients. I've dealt with the Chinese
leaders now, for, - thirty years. I go often, whenever I go to China and
meet the top leaders. And I've gotten to know them. And I have to say I
have high respect for this sense of direction but also balance and
I can not do better than repeat what Deng
Xiaoping said at one point, about the Chinese approach to international
affairs and I quote:
"Observe calmly, secure our position,
cope with affairs calmly, hide our capacities, and bide.., our time,
be good at maintaining a low profile and never claim leadership."
(Audience laughs soft smuggerly)
I think the contrast between that and that
precisely is what marked Deng Xiaoping as, really one of the outstanding
statesman of our time. And the current prime minister of Russia speaks
for itself. (Audience laughs) And that brings me to another point,
namely; That we have to involve Russia in this Process too!
Irrespective of the suggested contrast that
I've just drawn, cause Russia should be part of such a dialog. But
actually if we move in the direction of such frequent dialog -and I have
literally in mind meetings between heads of government of state, between
America and China, Europe, America and China... Russia will not want to
be left out. Russia will not want to be left out and it might be a very
solitaire entrustment to obtain Russia's good behavior in international
With some, Without some of the sable
rattling and impatiens and frustration and posturing that has been seen
lately. And that respect incidentally I think there is also the makings
of a natural division of labor in dealing with Russia between the United
States and specifically Europe. For America Russia is a world power in
the area of nuclear weaponry, that is the one area in which it is a
global power. And therefore it is a special responsibility of the United
States to continue constructive dialog with the Russians about strategic
And to seek new arrangements, new
agreements, replace, start etc... Disarmament, weapons control,
eventually perhaps moving towards a world in which the presence of
nuclear weapons is dramatically decreased. But Russia simultaneously, a
regional power, a regional power not a global power! And that affects
Europe the most. And I think Europe has a special responsibility in
trying to engage Russia in a fashion, that Russia into Europe, but
without an Imperial baggage.
That unfortunately still to many of the
present, generation of Russian leaders wish to bring with them. Unlike
Great Britain, and in a much more painful way, unlike Germany or Japan,
Russia has still not come to terms with this new global status and new
global condition it is a major national state, it is no longer an
Empire. It lost that Empire peacefully relatively speaking but it lost
it, and has now accommodated to that reality. Indeed it hasn't yet been
willing to face up, to the true meaning historically and morally, of
it's Communist experience and specifically of it's Stalinist experience.
The foreign Minister of Russia Mister
Lavrov recently said that to equate Nazis in with Stalinism is a
blasphemy. But there are millions of people who feel that it too are
profoundly similar and equally painful. This process will take time
until a new generation of Russians emerges. But in the mean time one
should continue, efforts to draw Russia in, to engage. But also to try
to create a political context in which it becomes not more easy but less
easy to try recreate an Empire.
And here of course too particular issues are
sensitive and difficult, namely; Ukraine and Georgia. We may have to
adjust the way we deal with both in regards of such a sensitive issue as
NATO. For different reasons in each case: In the case of the Ukraine
because there is no consensus in the Ukraine regarding joining NATO.
And because of the leadership is profoundly
divided and unable to shape a consistent national policy. In the case of
Georgia because of the ongoing territorial conflicts. But it doesn't
mean therefore that we should be indifferent to their security! And
we'll have to wait (huh?), we'll have to find alternative ways of
dealing with them so their security is enhanced.
In the case of the Ukraine probably at the
NATO summit in April once the new President is in charge in the United
States. And we can find probably alternative arrangements either to the
membership action plan? Or to some other aspects of the bilateral
relationship so that the Ukrainians feel reassured.
In the case of Georgia we certainly have to make some clear decisions
regarding the nature of our steak in Georgia. And we can not lose side
of the fact that the Georgian government where to be overthrown and
right now it is totally vulnerable to the external use of force. The
Baku-Ceyhan line would be cut!
And thus our strategic access to Azerbaijan
and the Caspian and Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan beyond would be similarly
cut. Paradoxically the financial crises actually makes conditions for an
improvement in relations with Russia surprisingly propitious. It's one
thing if Russia collects 140 dollars for a barrel of oil and can
threaten as it has on many occasions.
To use it as a political tool and has used
it on many occasions. Or when the barrel of oil produces less than 60
dollars. Especially given the fact that so much of Russia's internal
timing for the future has been based on the assumption of a fairly high
price and continuing growing demand. There are indications that what
happened in Russia in the last few weeks has been a shock. Probably to
the entire Russian elite including those at the very top.
To them more because they didn't anticipated
the difficulties, probably resent them and they know that many of their
expectations and aspirations have to be, reconsidered. And to the part
of the elite in a much more direct fashion, because they have been busy
over the last decade or so storing away money. Not in Russian
Vladivostok or in Siberia or in Kamtsjatka, or in the various east
Russian cities that cry for development. Or in Russian health service in
which 50% of it's hospitals do not have hot water.
But, in Cayman Islands, in Cyprus, in London
Real Estate, on the Riviera. And all of a sudden it dawned on them that
the American - European - Russian relationship where to deteriorate
seriously. And something could happen to these assets that would not be
reassuring. (Audience: Ah ah ah ah ahhh...)
All of that I think is nothing short of a
very actually sanatory lesson in the reality of interdependence. And
that's the good. And that should facilitate meeting that particular
task. The last by no means the least is to pacify, it is to pacify. And
that is to avoid and that's particularly our responsibility. The growing
risk that America will become military and politically bucked down in a
vast area of the world ranging from East of Suez, does that phrase sound
familiar to some of you?
From East of Suez to West of India, from
east of Suez to west of India. And nothing that I have said so far will
accomplish anything if the U.S. does get bucked down. Because if we get
bucked down we will be; in a protracted, post imperial war, in the post
colonial age. Which is not going to be easy to win with aroused
populations that are not easy to control unless your prepared to
exterminate them and we're not.
And will be stuck perhaps with escalating
conflicts. Resulting either for a re-awakening of the Israeli -
Palestinian conflict, to a continuation of the Iraqi war as an extension
of a war with Iran, to a deepening war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. So,
let me say a brief word about each of these; And here just as Europe
with our help can more effectively deal with Russia. We have to deal
with these problems but you can be more effective if you speak with one
voice, in giving us good advice and joining us in responsible cause of
But not limiting yourself by just giving
I think we have to, bite the bullet, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace
process because we are probably within the last year in which a two
state solution is too feasible. Anybody who looks at the topography of
the country and what's been happening at the west bank and one looks at
demographics, knows that that opportunity is slipping away.
It's been slipping away for 41 years. It
cannot continue slipping away on this or that excuse because, one
leadership is divided, another leadership is weak, or if something
happens painfully on a human scale! But a minuscule scale actually when
the numbers are considered. And the only way this conflict will be
resolved if the parties are helped to resolve it. And the only party
that can help to resolve it, in the first instance, is the United
And if the United States takes a clear
position as to what are the essential fundamental, elements of the basic
settlement. I have no doubt that the rest of the world will endorse it
almost unanimously, I can not think of a country that will dissent! And
I think Israeli-Palestinian part of looking will be influenced once it
is made explicit.
Because than it is much easier, much more
difficult, to stall, to evade. And that means it has to be done fairly
soon. Particularly the highest level. And clarifying for the record
something that instinctively most people affected in Israel and
Palestine ordinal. Namely their four fundamental elements beyond which
the process has to be negotiated, but which is the point of departure
negotiations, and not an excuse for delaying these negotiations. And
that is the eventual Palestinian state will be demilitarized.
Perhaps with a NATO presence on it's soil?
Or an American presence on the Jordan river, to give Israel the
strategic depth it says it needs, for it's security. Secondly that the
territorial settlement involves 19-67 lines with equitable exchange,
that's one on one bases. Permitting Israel to incorporate into Israel
the heavily urbanist settlements on the fringes of the 67 lines.
But with exchanges, compensations in the
Negev and Galilei. And now with increasing difficulty for parties to
swallow, in the case of the Palestinians; Third: No right of return, no
right of return for the Palestinians refugees or rather, their
descendents, to what is Israel. Because we can not expect Israel to
commit suicide for the sake of piece, demographic suicide.
So, no right of return, he has
acknowledgment of their suffering, he has compensation, he has
resettlement. But no right to return. And last by not least, a bitter
pill for the Israelis to swallow. Without which no piece would be viewed
by the Palestinians as legitimate or enduring because even visually it
can be perceived as unfair: The sharing of Jerusalem.
The sharing of Jerusalem,.. as,...two
capitals in one city. East Jerusalem, the Palestinian. West Jerusalem,
the Israeli Some fashion of arrangements for sharing the old city and a
Palestinian flag over the golden dome which can be seen almost visually
from anywhere in the Palestinian territory. With such a statement the
peace process will take of and if I am wrong?
It will be no worse than it is. (Audience laughs; ah ah ah ah) Because
if it remain stalled. And being stalled is not an enduring static
condition It's a pra.... Iraq is on the way of being resolved one way or
the other. Part of the debate in the United States has been as to a date
fixed for withdrawal. That was a criticism made of Obama but look at a
what has happened.
Bush administration already settled
with the Iraqis of a date for withdrawal. Slightly over a year later
than the date that
Obama has been talking about. What will be needed
however is with a withdrawal is a serious dialog with all of Iraq's
neighbors. About the security consequences of American withdrawal and
the consequences for them.
And not a single one of them can envisage
benefiting from unrest in Iraq without IT spilling over into it's own
territory. Just look at demographics and the geography of the region.
And in such a dialog in the context of withdrawal has change of being
constructive. And that brings to the third aspect, namely: If there is
such dialog it will help to negotiate with Iran about it's nuclear
problem. And we have to negotiate seriously which means changing our
Abandoning what is the current American
posture which is that we negotiate after the Iranians make fundamental
concession as precondition to negotiations. And that is not a way to
achieve a negotiating process, that's not a way to set it in motion. And
there is something else we maybe advised to give up; Which is the
useless and counterproductive threat of military action.
Because threatening military action unifies
the Iranian populous, helps to bridge the enormous cap between the
population at large and the Mullahs. And doesn't help the negotiating
process. It's an option which you can always keep in reserve if you
really mean to use it. But it is not productive to negotiations.
And quiet frankly I don't think it would be
very productive if it where ever exercised. Because a war with Iran
would be a messy business indeed in the entire region. With a variety of
local consequences and global economic consequences. Which we know in
advance would be disastrous through a scale which we can not predict so,
it's not a viable notion for a actual policy. And last by not least we
have to deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan. And here to some extend
based on my own experience of dealing with that problem in relationship
to an other power.
I think it is important that we do not over
militarize our effort and we do not make the mistake that the other
power did in Afghanistan. Yes, some deployment of troops maybe necessary
and both Presidential candidates in the United States have said so. But
that can not be the central focus of our efforts.
Yes, some troops maybe necessary and that
means also European troops participating on the bases of equality. And
not of preferential choice of sites, with some for example, not even
patrolling at night because it is dangerous. It means facing the risks
together and paying the price together. But above all else it means in
my judgment demilitarizing the effort and politicizing it. And
particularly seeking to the possibility exploring the possibility on
negotiating arrangements with The Talibans.
Not Taliban but Talibans in different parts of Afghanistan. In
exchange for an arrangement in which their elimination or termination of
Al Qaeda presence in their particular area would be reciprocated by
military disengagement from that area. I think if we move in that
direction we will avoid the mistakes that the Soviets made and kept them
very busy in a self destructive fashion for some, ten years.
Let me end my final point briefly about
itself, America itself it's a very perocial point. In my judgment as we
look ahead in the detainee of the next President. We all have an
intelligent foreign policy in America when we have a intelligent
President. (Some audience laughs) And we have just, we have chosen one,
but that's not enough.
We need an intelligent public in America. I
can say from my own personal experience and I think others can opt test
to it as well. That the American public unfortunately is widely
undereducated about the world. And we are a democracy our foreign policy
has to reflect the popular will that's just a basic fact of life!
And we cannot have a complex intelligent
policy in a complex age if the public is not educated about the world.
It makes us acceptable when it is not to deliberately propagated
demagogy and lately it has been victimized propagation of a culture of
fear. And that makes for parallelizes in foreign policy. It also
facilitates the activity on American soil of foreign lobbies.
In the historical recent past, many (Huh?)
or some of these lobbies capitalize an ideological appeal.
Today they are much more effective they are
capitalizing on money, and money, and money goes a long way, and we've
to be alert to that. And last by not least the President himself has to
tackle the fact that the American public needs education about the
world. And he has to try to make the American public understand the new
dimensions of the world.
That is an essential task, that is a vital
task, that the he has to undertake. And I think, without sounding overly
partycism and certainly not excessively differential to the new
President. That he has the intellectual and the rhetorical gifts to do
So, let me simply end by saying; yes we can.
(Audience laughs and applauses afterwards)