28 May 2017
Zbigniew Brzeziński Has Died
At age 89, Zbigniew Brzeziński has died, one of the most influential political thinkers and strategists of US foreign policy, the former national security adviser in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Brzeziński used to say he’s an American whose heart remained in Poland.
During the Cold War, he played a leading role in US attempts to dismantle and bring down communism in Eastern Europe, to halt Soviet intervention in Poland after the creation of Solidarity, and help foster failure of the Soviet armed forces in Afghanistan, which led to the disintegration of the USSR. He played a crucial role in independent Poland's bid for NATO membership.
Brzeziński was a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest award given to both civilians and military personnel. He also received the Medal of Freedom, the highest civil distinction in US.
In May 2012 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, a panel discussion was held on the occasion of the new edition of Story of an Underground State by Jan Karski. Karski, the famed Polish emissary, was evoked by Madeleine Albright, Brzeziński and Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf. “Why didn't the West react, how to explain this indifference of the world to the report by the secret emissary?” Brzeziński asked then. Perhaps, he said, “human compassion and capability to identify with pain of others has its limits,” perhaps it was a self-preservation instinct to protect itself from pain.
Brzeziński said he met Karski as a teenager during the war, when the latter had come to the US on his first courier mission there. Karski was received at a dinner by the Brzeiński family. “My father asked what’s happening with the Jews in the east of Poland,” Brzeziński recalled of that conversation in May 2012. “He said: they are all being killed. When he saw the astonishment of my father, he repeated: they are all being killed. And children, and women, too? I told you: they are all being killed.”