Brzezinski challenges Obama to put world peace ahead of ‘specific constituencies’

on 33 Comments

Yesterday on “Morning Joe,” Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a bravura performance, urgently calling on Obama to help impose a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it further radicalized Arab societies, endangering world security. Obama had “dropped” the matter in his first term, Brzezinski said, caving to Netanyahu.

[Obama] needs to get engaged very seriously…. This is a real challenge to get at the heart of the problems… If we simply patch this up… we’ll have a repetition in no time flat. In the meantime, two things are happening in the region which are not going to be reversed easily. US influence is declining, Arab radicalism is intensifying. And that’s not a good augury, either for stability or the future of Israel…

[Obama] engages by abandoning the myth that a peace settlement has to wait until the day that the Israelis and Palestinians can compromise by themselves… Left to themselves the Israelis and the Palestinians will never settle. The Israelis are too strong to make concessions and compromises. The Palestinians are too weak and divided…

Obama started well four years ago, and then he just dropped it… If he waits like Clinton till his last eighth year he’s going to get nothing done, and the region will deteriorate. Because it is deteriorating year after year.

Commentators Richard Wolffe, Jeffrey Sachs, and Dan Senor were in the studio, and Sachs rather ingenuously asked Brzezinski why Obama had dropped it. Brzezinski spoke implicitly of the Israel lobby.

“He kind of folded up. But he can redeem itself… He has [an opportunity] again.. He doesn’t have to worry about the next election. He doesn’t have to worry about fundraising for that election. He doesn’t have to worry about specific constituencies. All he has to worry about is the American national interest first of all and the good future of the region.”

Majorities of the Palestinian, Israeli and “American Jewish” community support a moderate solution in the conflict, Brzezinski said (evidently he means the two state solution, but who’s counting).

Dan Senor lashed out at Brzezinski for saying that Obama’s indifference was politically motivated. It has nothing to do with the American Jewish community or “donations,” Senor said; he’d come to the right conclusions about the conflict.

Sachs and Wolffe had nothing to say about Obama’s collapse. Sachs offered the bromide, “The solution has been in front of us for decades,” while Wolffe, who once served as a moderator at a J Street conference, said that Obama should get Bill Clinton to be his mediator. As if Clinton, producer of a lopsided failure at Camp David, will not be subject to lobby pressure given his wife’s evident ambitions. Wolffe and Sachs avoided that issue entirely. They left the matter of the Israel lobby to the neocon and the realist to argue about. As if there will be any progress on this question in the U.S. without taking on the lobby: as if the two state solution is still alive, as if Israel is not out of control, as if it has not been empowered by rightwing American Jews.

Ilene Cohen relates a similar avoidance by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC:

And for perhaps the strangest coverage of all (that I’ve encountered), see Rachel Maddow’s thirteen-minute rant from Tuesday Nov. 20 program (For the video, click on “Mideast diplomacy engages with new Egypt in key role”). The piece is done with typical Maddow melodrama. But to what end? Looks to me that Maddow was stuck with a story (this latest war) that she had to cover in some way but was left wondering how to do it without criticizing Obama and without saying anything that would trouble the Israelis. Lord, she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. It has often been said—correctly—of Maddow that she avoids the infamous third rail. Well, here you go; she manages to avoid it even when she’s not avoiding it. This extended non sequitur, in its entirety, would have been better left on the cutting-room floor. But for lots of background about Egypt that you didn’t need, here it is.

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33 Responses

  1. chinese box
    November 22, 2012, 10:01 am

    From his lips to god’s ears…

  2. Dan Crowther
    November 22, 2012, 10:07 am

    This guy is something else. Perhaps more than anyone else, Zbig is responsible for Arab (read: muslim) radicalism in the region, this is the cat who stood in Pakistan in the 70’s and told the Mujahideen to fight for God, and that Americans, being so pious themselves, would support their Jihad. Palestine is a huge problem, but so is the situation in Pakistan, where US Policy is putting tremendous pressure on the military and the moderates, and this in a nuclear state of some 200 million people. Zbig is the father of this policy, and so he’s not likely to talk about it.

    • marc b.
      November 22, 2012, 10:45 am

      he does have buckets of blood on his hands, and i have read that he may have been involved in the internal undermining of the carter administration. but he is likely the most intelligent analyst of foreign policy, and apparently has some license to speak candidly in public. so he is worth a listen to. you’re right, though, it’s not as if his agenda is peaceful.

    • American
      November 22, 2012, 11:02 am

      You can shoot the messenger, but his message on I/P-US-Isr is still accurate and valid.

      • anonymouscomments
        November 22, 2012, 8:16 pm

        agreed… don’t like his past, but he is remarkably candid and productive when speaking on IP. he basically doesn’t want the neocons to fully run the US into the ground (have they already?). and he knows american power is waning, and without at least a reasonable shift towards *justice* the US will be marginalized the world over (aren’t we already, but just acting like it is still 1980?).

        obama needs to call for PA elections and then candid negotiations ASAP (just wait 1-2 months for the hamas “bump” to subside).

    • gamal
      November 23, 2012, 9:53 pm

      Osama Bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski

      President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski visiting ‘his boy’, Osama Bin Laden, in training with the Pakistan Army, 1981.Photo originally scanned from the New York Village Voice. Photo credited to the Sygma/Corbis Agency, Paris.

  3. chinese box
    November 22, 2012, 10:28 am

    @Dan Crowther

    I’m not a big follower of zbig but I think he’s been pretty consistent over the past few years in calling for an even-handed approach to I/P by the US. Everyone at high levels of gov’t has gotten their hands dirty in one way or another. I believe the Carter admin. helped fund the ethnic cleansing of East Timor. When people like Carter or zbig come around to a more sane position do we welcome their input or throw them under the bus because of bad choices they made decades ago?

    • Dan Crowther
      November 22, 2012, 10:53 am

      “When people like Carter or zbig come around to a more sane position do we welcome their input or throw them under the bus because of bad choices they made decades ago?”

      What about Dick Cheney? What if Dick Cheney came out and said “Free Palestine!”?
      My thing is, an aging criminal is still a criminal – it’s OK to call granpa an asshole, ya know? At least if it were Dick Cheney, people’s reaction would be, “so what’s he really up to here?” No one would just say, “ah, that dick cheney, he’s really come around, maybe he is a good guy.” Zbig has millions of reasons for his views on other conflicts but here he just says, “let’s all get along and do the right thing” platitudes like this should be a ringing alarm, and should make clear he’s trying not to be thought of in the same way Kissinger is. (I’ll concede he’s not in the same criminal class as Kissinger). So, he comes on MSNBC, plays the tweedy grandfather and says nothing of value…… perfect.

      • chinese box
        November 22, 2012, 1:18 pm


        If Dick Cheney said that I would welcome it, as I welcomed Condi Rice’s (albeit tepid) criticism of Israel for Cast Lead. That doesn’t excuse what these people did, but let’s face it, none of these people are ever going to be tried for war crimes. That’s a pipe dream. At the end of the day, when the plug finally gets pulled on Israel, it will be because some (likely amoral) high officials decide that the price tag for supporting Israel is just too high, not out of any concern for the Palestinians or human rights. And if it comes about that way I’ll gladly accept it.

      • Citizen
        November 23, 2012, 8:23 am

        @ chinese box

        Me too.

    • just
      November 22, 2012, 11:06 am


      I appreciate more involvement and input from both President Carter and Mr. Brzezinski on I/P.

      They are sane.

    • Scott
      November 22, 2012, 1:14 pm

      A lot of people who are pro-Palestine, or at least luke warm towars Zionism, now and back then, were cold warriors. They believed communism was an evil system, feared the expansion of Soviet power, saw every international issue through that metric. True of George Marshall, George Kennan, etc. And Zbig. I don’t know the first thing about East Timor, but I’m sure he viewed US policy options through that metric. It’s what the realists did.

  4. Sibiriak
    November 22, 2012, 10:52 am

    Zbigniew Brzezinski -2003 Soft Zionism?

    Palestinian terrorism has to be rejected and condemned, yes. But it should not be translated defacto into a policy of support for a really increasingly brutal repression, colonial settlements and a new wall.

    Let us not kid ourselves. At stake is the destiny of a democratic country, Israel, to the security of which, the well-being of which, the United States has been committed historically for more than half a century for very good historical and moral reasons. But soon there will be no option of a two-state solution.

    Soon the reality of the settlements which are colonial fortifications on the hill with swimming pools next to favelas below where there’s no drinking water and where the population is 50% unemployed, there will be no opportunity for a two-state solution with a wall that cuts up the West Bank even more and creates more human suffering.

    Indeed as some Israelis have lately pointed out, and I emphasize some Israelis have lately pointed out, increasingly the only prospect if this continues is Israel becoming increasingly like apartheid South Africa — the minority dominating the majority, locked in a conflict from which there is no extraction. If we want to prevent this the United States above all else must identify itself with peace and help those who are the majority in Israel, who want peace and are prepared to accept peace.

  5. American
    November 22, 2012, 10:54 am

    Brzezinski is right on every point of course and I have noticed before he doesn’t shy from calling it like it is on I-First influence of political money and the Lobby.
    The main point is realist in FP circles and even ordinary common sense observers have said for years that a solution has to ‘be imposed’ on Israel by a outside power. If there is something besides the I-Firstdom influence that keeps this from being done I don’t know what it is and have never been able to find it. It’s definitely not in the Israel as a asset to the US claim.

    I don’t even know what to say any more about the Israel fetish in our government, politics, policy, all those to blame for it, the media complicity in keeping it hidden and going, or how to overcome it……whatever we are all doing, Jewish dissenters/activist included, it just plain isn’t working.

  6. pabelmont
    November 22, 2012, 10:55 am

    What Obama CAN do and what he WILL do.

    He could today (and yesterday, when Russia presented a draft to UNSC which USA vetoed) STOP using his veto and invite the int’l community to resolve UNSC 465 once again, a pure copy, say. but now including dismantling of the wall. and ADD to that that Israel should get rid of the settlers, settlements, and wall within one year. Best to add sanctions or an encouragement to the nations to develop sanctions of their own.

    But he won’t. He needs the Congress to be as with him as it can be — given the Republicans — and needs to get Congress re-elected, and — who knows — perhaps, like Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama has ambitions.

    But let’s all ask him to get some significant int’l pressure on Israel with a clear goal either as to ending occupation or to rolling back settlements.

  7. yourstruly
    November 22, 2012, 12:19 pm

    for those who insist that the our government’s special relationship with israel has the overwhelmingly support of the american people & always will, please consider this huffpost/yougov poll*

    findings: 40% support for israel’s latest military action in gaza
    23% oppose it
    37% not sure

    also: 36% sympathize more with israel
    9% sympathize more with the palestinians
    13% sympathize with both sides
    24% sympathize with neither side
    18% were unsure

    republicans & seniors overwhelmingly sided with palestinians
    democratics & the young, are more evenly split


  8. Les
    November 22, 2012, 12:33 pm

    Keep in mind that Brzezinski is one of the original cold warriors.

  9. MHughes976
    November 22, 2012, 12:38 pm

    Meanwhile in the UK, for what it’s worth, the Independent’s coverage today by its journalists in Jerusalem and Gaza conveys the idea that Hillary Clinton’s praise of Mursi (now assuming ‘pharaonic’ powers, according to El Baradei, I see) indicates that America is forging closer links with the MBrotherhood and that Obama was putting pressure on Israel to Stop. An outside contributor, Nesrine Malik, argues that ‘Gaza is still alone’ and that the Arab potentates are cowardly windbags or worse.

  10. jewishgoyim
    November 22, 2012, 12:50 pm

    Shorter Zbig: “Obama has to be courageous at once and be really tough on this constituency that is so powerful that I, myself, am just too scared of to put a name on.”

    Yeah guys! Let’s get real tough on this constituency we dare not name!!!

    Now wait: shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t people be courageous enough to name it before they can fathom getting “real tough”?

    • Scott
      November 22, 2012, 8:41 pm

      A funny comment, but I thought Zbig’s language was not too cool, not too hot, just right. Everyone knows what he’s talking about– specific constituencies versus the national interest.

      • Citizen
        November 23, 2012, 8:30 am

        Yeah, everybody knows, except most of the audience watching the Cable TV Newsfotainment shows like Morning Joe, that is, all of them. That Rachel Maddow is just disgusting; she parades her sacred cows even as she wittily shows us the smelly ass of her well-chosen foes.

    • American
      November 23, 2012, 8:09 pm

      Everyone who is anyone in FP , the media or DC or any other world capital knows exactly who and what he was talking about.
      Great take down of the Zio Neos and their how Israel is the Neo conserative movement in the US by Jim Lobe….he’s not shy about it.

      For those, particularly in the timid or intimidated U.S. foreign-policy elite, who still pretend or somehow make themselves believe that Israel is not absolutely central to the neo-conservative worldview, I commend this week’s Thanksgiving editorial by Bill Kristol, scion of one of the movement’s two founding families, in The Weekly Standard, entitled “The West Fights Back”. While it deserves to be read — and deconstructed — in full, here’s the meat:…..

      ”And so these two very different nations—Christian and Jewish, large and small, new world and old (though the new world nation is older than its newly reborn old world counterpart)—find themselves allied. More than allied: They find themselves joined at the hip in a brotherhood that is more than a diplomatic or political or military alliance. Everyone senses that the ties are deeper than those of mere allies. Israelis know that if the United States fails, so shall Israel. Americans sense, in the words of Eric Hoffer, “as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us.”..(Kristol)

      Lobe says also…….”I think it’s way past time for the centrality of Israel to the movement’s foreign-policy worldview to be openly recognized, acknowledged, and discussed by the foreign-policy elite, as well as a public that is sick and tired of Middle Eastern wars.”

  11. DICKERSON3870
    November 22, 2012, 4:28 pm

    ● RE: “He doesn’t have to worry about the next election. He doesn’t have to worry about fundraising for that election. He doesn’t have to worry about specific constituencies.” ~ Zbigniew Brzezinski

    ● MY COMMENT: Obama has more than likely already sold his soul, both of his soles, and just about everything else. Anyway, its time for him to start raising money for his presidential library/foundation. After all, what’s an ex-president without a billion dollar presidential library/foundation?

    ● FROM WIKIPEDIA [Marc Rich]:

    . . . On 20 January 2001, hours before leaving office, Clinton granted Rich a presidential pardon.
    As Denise Rich had made large donations to the U.S. Democratic Party and the Clinton Library during Clinton’s time in office, Clinton’s critics alleged that Rich’s pardon had been bought. Marc Rich had made substantial donations to Israeli charitable foundations. Clinton explained his decision by noting that similar situations were settled in civil, not criminal court, and cited clemency pleas from Israeli government officials, including then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak. . .

    SOURCE –

    ● ALSO FROM WIKIPEDIA [Haim Saban]:

    (EXCERPTS) . . . Saban has been a generous and consistent donor to the United States Democratic Party according to his mandatory Federal Election Commission filings. Mother Jones, in an analysis of the major donors to the campaigns of 1998 election cycle, ranked Saban 155th among individual donors.[21] Amy Paris noted that Saban’s Clinton-era “generosity did not go unrewarded. During the Clinton administration, the entertainment executive served on the President’s Export Council, advising the White House on trade issues.”[21] The New York Times reported that Haim and his wife “slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms.” Saban remains close friends to the former President. Clinton described Saban as a “very good friend and supporter.”[4] Saban contributed between $5 million to $10 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation.[22] . . .

    SOURCE –

    ● AND SEE: Bill Clinton pardon controversy –

  12. Kathleen
    November 23, 2012, 12:14 am

    I thought Sachs had plenty to say and said it very clearly “Israel was not any move any concessions” Then Sachs goes on to mention the continued expansion of illegal settlements and building of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

    Brzezinski always brilliant, clear and spot on. “Obama surprised by the tenacity of Netanyahu’s resistance and even undermining of Obama:

    • Kathleen
      November 23, 2012, 9:25 am

      I thought Sachs had plenty of relevant things to say. So glad he mentioned the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

    • Kathleen
      November 23, 2012, 10:39 am

      I thought Sachs had plenty to say and said it clearly. 5:10/ Sachs ” We can see that Israel was not making any moves any concessions the settlements process which has been so frustrating to get the two state solution was just going forward completely unabated. So then we get these explosions, they are terrible these blood lettings , absolutely devastating and the solution has been in front of us for decades but it does require that kind of PRESSURE to get it in place.”

      Phil I think Sachs was clearly including the Obama’s administrations failure to apply persistent and necessary PRESSURE on Netanyahu and team. And we know that does have to do with votes, money etc. Brzezinksi nailed it

      Brzezinski always brilliant, sober, clear and spot on. “Obama surprised by the tenacity of Netanyahu’s resistance

      Pressure, pressure, pressure was said three times

  13. Citizen
    November 23, 2012, 8:34 am

    Notice nobody on Cable TV Newsfotainment will have Nader on to discuss the Gaza issue:
    Israel’s Playbook:

    Rachel Maddow, what a waste of time; she could have spelled out latest Gaza in a minute:
    Israel & Gaza: the math:

    • Kathleen
      November 23, 2012, 10:43 am

      Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed have all basically been silent on this critical issue for a long time. Silence is complicity. Not sure what that was that Rachel did recently..listened she ran around in incoherent circles. One thing I noticed though was that during her bit on the conflict her team actually put a more accurate map of the West Bank than anyone in the MSM has ever done. Showed the settlements in red. But the map only went up for a few seconds

      • Citizen
        November 24, 2012, 5:26 am

        @ Kathleen

        Hey, let’s not forget the contributions of that dolt, Lou Dobbs. Yesterday evening he was looking with pretend earnest amazement at George Gilder, as he allowed George to push his book, The Israel Test. You see, in terms of world progress for betterment of all mankind in the contemporary hi-tech, capitalistic world, Israel is the fulcrum. Indeed, America is fully dependent on Israel.

        Dobbs’s single question, his one and only question, was, “Gee, do you really think Israel is the fulcrum?” Then he allowed Mr Gilder to wax on, and on, letting him count the myriad of ways. When Gilder was finally done, Dobbs switched to another topic with another new guest.

  14. irmep
    November 23, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Brzezinski and Carter had a real opportunity to team up with Senator John Glenn and finally bust the perps of the NUMEC

    (and by extension ZOA)

    nuclear material theft from the U.S. scam.

    But Zbig wouldn’t give Glenn the access to secret docs he needed. (see doc) He and Carter “dropped it.” Today we have a half billion dollar toxic cleanup at Apollo, and are still flummoxed by the corrupt policy of “ambiguity” in which the Israelis and President lie (by omission) to Americans about Israeli nukes, and don’t properly enforce the Symington and Glenn amendments which would cancel U.S. aid to Israel.

    Dropped indeed.

    • Kathleen
      November 23, 2012, 6:31 pm

      Thanks for this. Have been in small groups in Athens Ohio with former Senator Glenn at former U.S. prisoner in Lebanon 1985- 1991 Terri Anderson’s former home and horse farm in Athens Ohio at Dem fund raisers. Glenn always seems like a stand up no nonsense kind of person. Glad to know this information

  15. atime forpeace
    November 23, 2012, 7:29 pm

    Obama has been dressed down by the neocons and Netanyahu, i hope that he has the gonads to pay them back.

    Maybe Brzezinski is just clearing the underbrush?

  16. Theo
    November 24, 2012, 12:15 pm

    Four years of Obama with his unfulfilled promises and we still have people who believe in him. Listen to this cute joke.

    Little Mike was a naive little child, believing in everything good.
    His parents wanted to teach him a lesson that this world is not all good, therefore for Xmas they put a pile of horse manure under the tree, and waited for the reaction.
    Instead of indignation, happy sounds were coming from the room, so they went in to see little Mike happily digging in the manure.
    Asking: Mike, why are you so happy, all you got is a pile of sh.t?
    Mamma, papa, with so much horse sh.t there must be a pony someplace!!!

    So friends, keep digging in all the manure Obama shovels in your direction and look for that promise that pleases you. I stopped hoping years ago.

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