cover image: Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1986


Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1986


Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-American political scientist and geostrategist, was national security adviser to U.S. president Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. In the interview he conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, Brzezinski reveals the prominent role he played in shaping foreign policy in the Carter administration. He chastises those who would make “a fetish out of arms control” and forget the far-reaching competitive relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. Reflecting an internal dispute within the administration, Brzezinski amplifies his views that the Soviet Union, building upon post-Vietnam malaise, was aggressively expanding its sphere of influence through proxi-military forces. Of particular concern was Soviet expansion in the Horn of Africa, which Brzezinski sees as key to flagging interest in arms-control talks and dwindling public confidence in détente. “SALT lies buried in the sands of Ogaden,” he maintains. He challenges those who believed that Strategic Arms Limitation Talks with the Soviet Union should have impacted the timing of China’s Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping’s visit to Washington. He further recounts the process for normalizing U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China, which insisted that it be regarded as the sole legal government of China. Brzezinski also discusses his support for the large, super-accurate MX missile that the United States created to expand its strategic options and to avert a situation in which “your only option is responding with everything you have or not responding at all.” These views culminated in August 1980’s Presidential Directive 59 (PD 59), which introduced into the basic nuclear-war plan the idea of striking at the Soviet command structure. For Brzezinski, PD 59 provided “enhanced deterrence” by presenting greater war-fighting flexibility during a protracted limited war.
horn of africa cruise missiles intercontinental ballistic missiles international relations neutron bomb nuclear warfare nuclear weapons great britain north atlantic treaty organization nuclear arms control vietnam war, 1961-1975 strategic arms limitation talks ii carter, jimmy 1924 warnke, paul c. 1920-2001 mx (weapons system) ogaden (ethiopia) schmidt, helmut 1918 dec. 23 deng, xiaoping 1904-1997 ford, gerald r. 1913-2006 first strike (nuclear strategy) nixon, richard m. (richard milhous) 1913-1994 kohl, helmut 1930 brezhnev, leonid il?ich, 1906-1982


Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 1928

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