US must not follow Israel into war ‘like a stupid mule’ — says Brzezinski

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The National Iranian American Council had a panel in Washington on Monday about US-Iranian relations. The video is now up at CSPAN. Some notes from watching it:

Rolf Ekeus, Swedish diplomat, disarmament expert:

Truman and Eisenhower dealt with Stalin; the United States should be talking to Iran. The countries have mutual interests, notably the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

“It is high time that the US and Iran began negotiating.”

Stop talking about regime change in Iran. This is not our business. Reestablish diplomatic relations. Have the courage to talk.

James Walsh, expert in international security at MIT:

Iran should be in the category of other American “frenemies” with whom we talk, like Russia and China.

“I think the Israelis could tell themselves a story where they would” end up striking Iran, but it would be a giant mistake. The first order of business for Iran would be to get nuclear weapons. There is evidence that the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981 is what motivated Saddam Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Zbigniew Brzezinski:

Brzezinski argued for deterrence of the Iranian nuclear threat, should it materialize. “We succeeded in deterring not only the Soviet Union, led by Stalin at one point” but also China, at a time when its leader was pooh-poohing the idea of nuclear war as no big deal.

“And China today has a minimal nuclear deterrent…. This meets their defense needs. And we have in a more tneuouos fashion succeeded in deterring North Korea even though it is occasionally threatening and volatile. But I think the North Koreans know that we are committed to the security of our partners, and what’s even more important the Chinese know that we are, and the Chinese don’t want a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.”

Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council asks Brzezinski, In the event that Israel attacks Iran, what would you tell Obama?


I don’t think there is any implicit obligation of the United States to follow you know like a stupid mule whatever the Israelis do. If they decide to start a war, simply on the assumption that we will automatically be drawn into it, I think it is the obligation of friendship to say well you’re not going to be making national decisions for us.

I think that the United States has the right to have its own national security policy. I think most Americans would agree with that, and therefore I think clarity on this issue is important and especially if we commit ourselves explicitly and bindingly to Israel’s security as part of the formula that I advocate. That is a formula designed to freeze any threat into a nonthreat, unless one can convincingly argue that a country of 85 million people has no higher priority than an act of collective suicide. And I don’t think that is sustained by any evidence whatsoever.

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