Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brzezinski on the 'Arab revolt'

The Grand Master who first drew the post-cold war chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke with CNN's Amar Bakshi on what he sees ahead in the Middle East in the downstream of the 'Arab revolt'. ZB's assessment:
A. Don't expect a flowering of democratic states. Political awakening may take even extremist forms initially.
B. At any rate, successor regimes will be more responsive to popular opinion. From US' perspective, they won't any longer passively acquiesce with American foreign policy.
C. Popular opinion is quite critical of US due to its support for Israel. Israel-palestine problem is at the root of anti-American, anti-western Arab sentiments.
D. Therefore, long-term implications of Arab revolt for Israel's future are 'ominous'.
E. Which means there is imperative need of a 'grand compromise' that US must broker between Israel and Palestinians.
F. Iran is benefitting from Arab revolt. Therefore, US should be careful not to unwittingly help increase Iran's influence by excessively pushing for reforms. US interest lies in helping increase Turkey's regional influence.
G. Basic flaw in US regional policies was to have neglected the Arab street and to have pursued its interests in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan by accommodating the regimes, which have 'overlapping interests that are often financial'. But there is need to 'pay attention to Arab masses' in the Persian Gulf and not 'ignore the motivating impulses' for people who are now 'beginning to assert themselves in their national decision-making'.
Read the transcript of the interview.


nj083 said...

As democratic impulses strengthen, the secular pluralistic order will gain initiative. The maximal position on Israel is likely to make room for formal recognition of Israel as it was founded. The vexing issue for Israel would be withdrawal from settlement areas and that of Jerusalem, which would be very difficult to give in. Here again a just resolution is more likely than continued impasse though it would not be easy to overcome Israeli tendency to press home its strategic advantage towards extreme volatility.

Jonathan said...

To decode his words a bit, Dr. Brzezinski probably means the following:

1. Turkey's neo-Ottoman ambitions must be accommodated because sooner or later they will clash with Iranian ambitions. Israel and Saudi Arabia are no longer viable front-line states by themselves. The US must work to re-create the Ottoman-Safavid rivalry. In return, the US must offer Turkey legitimacy as the leader of Sunni Islam by forcing Israel to make significantly more concessions to the Palestinians than they would have liked. A big fight with the Zionist lobby is bound to follow because Dr. Brzezinski is basically saying that Israel must give up its regional pre-eminence for the sake of US grand strategy.

2. Sunni Islamist regimes, with varying levels of fanaticism, are likely to come to power eventually in many Arab countries currently ruled by pro-US secular dictators. The US must not oppose these forces, but rather work to recuperate them and direct them against Iran.

3. The US should also ensure that the entrenched military and police elites in these Arab countries remain in place, and should work to achieve an accommodation between them and the ascendent Islamists. If these elites are weakened, it could create an opportunity for Iranian influence to spread.

4. The US military intervention in Libya is a specific case and should not be replicated elsewhere. Qaddafi is a suitable target because he has managed to alienate both the Saudi and Iranian-led camps in the Middle East. By playing a visible role in his overthrow, the US would do much to gain credibility with the ascendent Sunni Islamist forces in the region.

Stephen said...

Zwig is right as usual. Israel needs to heed psalm ... 75:5 which says lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.
Which means.... Speak not with a stiff neck - With arrogance and pride; in a haughty, imperious manner. The word rendered "stiff" (literally "a neck of stiffness") - עתק ‛âthâq - means properly bold, impudent, wicked; and the idea is that of speaking as those do who are impudent, shameless, bold, licentious - indicating confidence in themselves, and a reckless disregard of truth and of the rights of others.

Time for Israel to wake up.