Brzezinski on Iraq: “American Leadership, In All Of Its Dimensions, Has Been Damaged”

Yesterday, former National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech on the Iraq war at the Center for American Progress. Some choice excerpts —

On the politics of fear:

But it is a part of this atmosphere of Manichean polarization which is being bred by a phony definition of reality. Neither President Truman nor Eisenhower — Democrat and Republican — ever spoke of America being a “nation at war” during the Korean War. Neither President Johnson nor Nixon ever spoke of America being a “nation at war” during the Vietnam War. Yes we have a serious challenge from the potential threat of terrorism and we have to wage an unrelenting struggle against it. But to describe America repeatedly as a nation at war — implicitly of course with a commander and chief in charge — is to contribute to a view of the world by America that stimulates fear and isolates us from others. Other nations have suffered more from terrorism than America. None of them has embraced that definition of reality.

On the Bush administration’s Iran policy:


We are not negotiating with the Iranians. … We will not touch the Iranians. Why not? Are we perhaps trying to prevent a compromise? Do we really want Iran to desist, or do we want to drive it into extremism? It surely cannot be our deliberate intention to fuse Iranian nationalism with Iranian fundamentalism. But that is precisely what we are doing.

On the costs of the Iraq war:

The war has proven to be prohibitively costly. American leadership, in all of its dimensions, has been damaged. American morality has been stained — in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. American legitimacy has been undermined — by unilateral decisions. American credibility — particularly the case for the war, has been shattered. Leadership depends on morality, legitimacy, credibility. The economic costs of the war are escalating into hundreds of billions of dollars. More importantly, American casualties are in the thousands, with more than tens of thousands maimed. We are not even counting Iraqi casualties; we prefer not to know what they are.

Read the whole thing.