Alexey Pleshanov for Russian7.ru
The famous American cold war ideologue Zbigniew Brzezinski turned 86 years old on March 28, 2014. But despite his age, the man who was called “the gravedigger of the Soviet Empire” is still full of energy to change the world.
A decisive influence in shaping the persona of a future ideologist of US foreign policy played his father. A prominent diplomat, Consul General in Canada, Tadeusz Brzezinski was forced to become a defector after WWII when communists came to power in Poland. It so happened that because of the diplomatic service of his father, Zbigniew only lived in his native country for three years, and Brzezinski senior was very worried that his son will lose the connection to his own people. Brzezinski was brought up in the spirit of patriotism and devotion to motherland. From his father the future politician received the first lessons of strategy, policy analysis and diplomacy, as well as learned the value of political errors.
Tadeusz Brzezinski considered the Soviet Union the main threat to Poland, where, incidentally, he was a Consul in 1936 and 1938. The father told little Zbigniew about the totalitarian nature of USSR, Stalin’s repressions, imperial, expansionist character of Russia. The diplomat was sure that Poland can protect its independence against Stalin’s ambitions only through a union with Germany. Occupation of the Republic of Poland by Hitler in September 1939 was a real tragedy for Tadeusz Brzezinski. At that time he was Consul General of Poland in Canada, and was cut off from the political process. The lessons of his father played a major role in shaping strategic thinking of Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Even as a child, Zbigniew demonstrated outstanding intellectual ability and high ambitions. In school years Brzezinski studied the history of Poland: not just studied, but analyzed, like chess. At every crucial episode in Polish history, he projected the most optimal variant of development in his opinion. Then, like his father, Zbigniew came to the conclusion that the main historical enemy of his homeland is Russia: Poland can preserve independence only with a weak Eastern neighbor.
In those years, Brzezinski had a goal – to become the President of Poland and regain the greatness of the Commonwealth. Immediately after the war he went home. However, Poland, that he found, laying in ruins, was far from the powerful country, which he painted in his own fantasies. Years later Brzezinski recalled: “I realized that I am no longer Polish, I am an American of Polish descent… Poland is the home of my childhood, the source of my historical and cultural identity”.
We must recognize that ultimately Zbigniew Brzezinski did for his historical motherland more than many presidents did for their countries. Occupying high positions in the administrations of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, he defended the interests of Poland, sometimes risking his career. Before Brzezinski, American foreign policy did not consider Poland as a serious player on the world political map: it was practically dismissed, as the eternal satellite of USSR. But he has done everything to prove that when independent from Russia, Poland may become a serious satellite of American interests in the global confrontation with Russia. In the early 1980’s Zbigniew Brzezinski personally supported the Polish Trade Union movement ‘Solidarity’, which ultimately played a crucial role in the collapse of the communist regime in Poland. Despite protests from US State Department, he made a risky trip to Warsaw, where he met cardinal Vyshinsky and declared the Roman Catholic Church as a legitimate opposition force. It is the tough stance of the US, the main lobbyist of which was Brzezinski, that prevented USSR from bringing troops into Polish People’s Republic to suppress trade union protests in the early 1980’s.
After the collapse of USSR Zbigniew Brzezinski applied all his influence to make Poland a member of NATO and the European Union. Some of his colleagues joked that Brzezinski used the full power of the United States for the sake of his historic homeland. Actually, he never denied it, claiming that it is a mutually beneficial relationship: without a strong America there cannot be a sovereign Poland, and without independent Poland, USA will not be able to restrain imperial appetites of Russia in Eastern Europe.
“Sooner or later Ukraine will become a part of democratic Europe, and Russia will follow it, if it will not isolate itself and will not become a “striped imperialist relic” ” – wrote Zbigniew Brzezinski. He had always believed that without Ukraine Russia will never be able to restore its imperial status. We must admit, that Brzezinski’s connection to Ukraine is not purely on the issues of global strategy. The ancestral home of zany). Father Brzezinski was born in the town of Zolochiv, which was once part of Austro-Hungary and is now located on the territory of Lvov region, and was educated at Lvov University. Interestingly, father Brzezinski even fought in the Polish army with the Ukrainian Galician army in the battle of Lvov in 1918, and in 1920 fought for Ukrainian lands in the Soviet-Polish war.
By the way, there is a theory that Zbigniew Brzezinski was born not in Warsaw, but in Soviet Kharkov, where his father served in the Polish Consulate. Interestingly, Brzezinski is currently the only non-Ukrainian honorary citizen of Lvov. The two sons of the American politician even managed to reside on the territory of modern Ukraine, and the youngest, Mark, even married an ethnic Ukrainian Natalia Lopatnyuk. Zbigniew Brzezinski himself openly admits his warm feelings towards Ukrainians. Interestingly, he highly regards Yulia Tymoshenko, whom he considers a very promising politician and a very attractive woman.
Zbigniew Brzezinski never paraded his religion, but nonetheless recognized that he feels admiration only for one person – Pope John Paul II. The American politician regards him as “the first real spiritual and religious leader in the history of mankind”. Many experts say that being an advisor to the US President for national security, Zbigniew Brzezinski played not the last role in the election of the Pontiff of the pole Karol Wojtyla in 1978. It is interesting that Brzezinski is convinced that John Paul II did for independence of Poland more than he did himself.
For at least four decades Zbigniew Brzezinski was behind the scenes chief architect of US foreign policy. Only one person can compete with him for this informal title, the other “political elder”, a 90-year-old Henry Kissinger. It is in their long rivalry that the foreign policy of the United States was formed in the cold war years, whose influence is still felt today.
As a representative of the democratic party Zbigniew Brzezinski mercilessly criticized the concept of “reset” in relations with USSR, the ideolog of which was republican Henry Kissinger, when he was the Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. Then Brzezinski has done everything to ruin the beginning of a constructive dialogue between the Soviet Union and America. Since then the two “elders” had different opinions on almost every global policy. For example, in the current political crisis Zbigniew Brzezinski took a tougher stance towards Russia, and Kissinger, on the contrary, justified Russia’s actions: “The West must understand that for Russia Ukraine will never be just a foreign country.”
A curious episode occurred on Brzezinski’s 80th birthday, where Henry Kissinger was invited. During the speech of Brzezinski, his main rival suddenly got up and defiantly headed for the door. On the question of Brzezinski: “Henry, you’re not leaving because of what I said?”, Kissinger replied: “30 years I waited for this moment.”
Translated by Kristina Rus