I could write at length about what Zbigniew Brzezinski has meant to me. It's a long story, but his work was instrumental in my switch from being a pre-med major at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s to a career studying and writing and teaching about the Cold War and foreign policy. His 1989 book, The Grand Failure, which brilliantly described the crisis level of various communist nations and the order in which they would implode, changed my life.
When I got to Washington as a grad student at American University, I began working at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Brzezinski was there -- and still is. I wrote him a note explaining what his work had meant to me; it was why I was there. The next day, his assistant responded, telling me how much he was moved by my letter. He sent me not only a signed copy of The Grand Failure but inscribed copies of all his books. They remain on my shelf today as treasured possessions.
In my classes today at Grove City College, as any student will attest, I quote Brzezinski all the time. I defend him as a rare positive in a horrendous Jimmy Carter presidency. When we put Jimmy Carter on the cover of my latest book -- smooching Leonid Brezhnev above the giant letters, DUPES -- I made sure that I retained my respect for Brzezinski inside.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was superb on the Soviets and communism generally. He belonged in the Reagan administration, not the Carter administration. In fact, in the 1980s, behind the scenes, he was helping the Reagan folks and John Paul II to take down the Soviets in Poland.
Later, in the 2000s, Brzezinski's statements on President George W. Bush were not nearly as persuasive. To the contrary, they were way over the top, vitriolic, and lacking the persuasive logic that had pervaded his Cold War writings. Still, we could reasonably disagree on whether the Bush push to spread the "March of Freedom" to the Middle East was viable and realistic. In my classes, I continued to share Brzezinski's Cold War material -- including, notably, his superb seven common characteristics of totalitarian regimes.
All of that is background to my strong appraisal of what Brzezinski said in the last few days. I heard it while serving dinner to the kids. It turned my stomach. It made me think that Brzezinski has either lost it or is being influenced (way too easily) by the poisonous class-warfare of Barack Obama and his mindless followers, who apparently dominate Brzezinski's circles in Washington. Brzezinski stated:
You know, I've been looking at these worldwide riots that are developing. They're all a reflection of deep passion, deep resentment and fear. Now the question is "Where will this go? How can this be sort of concretized?" And one thought that has occurred to me -- and let me sort of mention it here casually without having really thought it through systematically -- I think it would be increasingly helpful if there was a movement to publish, worldwide, lists of who make, largely through speculation, enormous amounts of money almost instantly, and basically hide the fact from their social context. You know, how many Americans are really fully aware of how many other good people, let's say like Warren Buffett and others, who really donate a lot of their earnings to charities, to philanthropy? But how many more are there in the hedge funds, in the banks, in a variety of other places, who, on the basis of speculation, literally make millions of dollars that would take a century or two for the average person ever to make? I'd like to see those lists. And they shouldn't be that difficult to produce.
I find these comments from Brzezinski more disturbing, more upsetting, than even the unhinged remarks from Roseanne Barr calling for wealthy bankers to be forcibly re-educated and literally guillotined. After all, Roseanne is clearly a crackpot, unable to separate her comedy from commentary -- in this case, dark comedy; Brzezinski, on the other hand, has been one of America's foremost foreign-policy minds for parts of five decades.
What's so shocking about Brzezinski's statements is their classist and even Marxist-Leninist nature. They are, to put it bluntly, communist in their thinking.
Does Zbigniew Brzezinski not realize that? His suggestion -- especially its global application -- is precisely what communists did in places like his native Poland and elsewhere in the Soviet bloc and around the world. This is what Lenin's and Stalin's Comintern wanted in order to facilitate the process of the worldwide class revolution.
Literal "lists" of greedy "speculators" is exactly what Lenin did. A "worldwide" "movement" to assemble and publish such lists? "Bankers" specifically identified? This is Leninism 101, pure and simple.
If anyone on the planet should know this, it's Zbigniew Brzezinski.
I understand that such poisonous class rhetoric flows naturally from the lips of Barack Obama, but it should be inherently incapable of emanating from the lips of Zbigniew Brzezinski. That a thoughtful, unwavering, lifetime anti-communist like Brzezinski could fall prey to such Marxist claptrap shows the incredible, pervasive power of anyone -- and I mean anyone -- to be manipulated by Obama's class-warfare agitprop. And it's clearly an Obama influence, right down to upholding Warren Buffet as American Angel.
Sure, I expect the Wall Street "Occupiers" to be suckered by such language. The majority of them are the liberal/progressive dupes that hard-line communist ringleaders have always easily manipulated. Nothing new there -- as Brzezinski would understand. But to see Zbigniew Brzezinski succumb to class-based demagoguery leaves one in despair for this country.
I will hold out hope for one thing: Brzezinski did say that he was offering his international policy prescription "casually," that is, "without having really thought it through systematically."
Let's hope he thinks it through a bit more systematically; that he clarifies and retracts. A worldwide list of greedy bankers and speculators and hoarders -- what Lenin called capitalist "reptiles" and "harmful insects" -- is not a casual thought. It's a scary thought.
Say it ain't so, Zbig. Say it ain't so.