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By Micah Halpern

Tuesday December 9, 2008


Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish born National Security Adviser under President Jimmy Carter who became an early adviser to the Obama campaign, is still dispensing foreign policy advise.

At eighty something years old Brzezinski, aka Ziggy, is probably too old to want to get his hands dirty with the nitty gritty of daily crisis management that a close national security advisor to the president of the United States must be involved in. I do not expect to see Ziggy playing a formal or significant role in the White House of Barack Obama. But I do expect that we will be hearing from him.

Right now, Brzezinski seems to feel more comfortable as an arm chair advisor than as a paid or appointed advisor. And right now he has decided to make the State of Israel the recipient of his hard earned experience and erudite advise.

In an interview with the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, Brzezinski leveled some harsh and disturbing criticism, in the guise of advise, upon Israel's military and political leadership. Brzezinski's remarks were made in the context of following up on comments made by the president-elect. Specifically, Obama saying that he would meet with Iranians without preconditions and his recent Meet the Press interview during which he described the carrot and stick incentives he intends to propose to Iran enabling them to put aside their nuclear aspirations.

Brzezinski had four main points to make:

# 1: He advised the Israeli government "not to engage in this campaign for an American attack on Iran, because I don't think America is going to attack Iran, and if it did, [and] the consequences would be disastrous."

# 2: He warned Israel saying "I don't know if Iran believes the military option is real, but I think it's not a real option for the U.S., and it is not a real option for Israel, because Israel doesn't have a capability to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities."

# 3: He predicted that "It can damage them, so it can only delay the process, while intensifying Iranian extremism and wielding together Iranian nationalism and Iranian fundamentalism, which I don't think is in anyone's interest.

# 4: He heckled. "Last, but not least, Israel really cannot execute effective strike without our permission. Because if you look at the map, you can see the reason why it is so."

Brzezinski is taking Israel to task. The former national security adviser under one of the most unfriendly former presidents of the United States towards Israel, is publicly asserting that Israel is behind the move to stop Iran's race to become a nuclear power. He is asserting that Israel is exerting serious force on the United States to intercede and prevent Iran from becoming an atomic nation and a nuclear leader in the Middle East.

While there is little doubt that Israel sees a nuclear Iran as a significant threat, there is also little doubt that the United States has arrived at the same conclusion totally on its own. And so has the United Nations. And that is where and why Brzezinski's analysis falters. Any student of the global political map knows with clarity and certainty that while Israel may hold some sway over United States policy, Israel holds nothing over the United Nations.

Even the conspiratorialists who actually believe that Israel has a lot to say and considerable pull in determining US policy could never convince any level headed person that Israel pulled the strings and exerted influence to convince the United Nations to exert their power and efforts to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear. The UN Security Council has been the most significant force attempting to persuade Iran from becoming nuclear. And seated on the UN Security Council have traditionally been some of Israel's most vocal and forceful opponents.

While Ziggy is no longer an Obama adviser, his ideas area shared by many of the people who are current Obama advisers. But not by all. There are others who think as I think. Who think that while Brzezinski was a brilliant advisor years ago, now he should remain in his arm chair and keep his thoughts to himself.

If the United States wants Iran to take their demands seriously, the United States must make level demands upon Iran. One of those demands must specifically call for Iran to behave within nuclear norms that are internationally acceptable. Another equally important demand must be for Iran to tone down the rhetoric and stop threatening to wipe Israel off the map. America must demand that Iranians proves that they are a country of builders and not destroyers before they are allowed to have such dangerous technology.

I believe that the new administration will pursue the right path when it comes to Iran, not the Brzezinski path. They will do so because when you analyze the situation today, now, not with hindsight but with foresight, they will discover that there is no other realistic option.

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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