By Marisa Long
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gave the keynote address for the annual Baker Peace Conference Thursday evening (April 1) at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. He spoke on the United States' national and global security and foreign policy, as well as the causes and effects of terrorism and conflict in many countries.
Brzezinski first discussed his concerns with the United States' position in the world today. He argued there was a "misdiagnosis of challenges" in foreign policy following Sept. 11, and that "American global credibility has very seriously declined." Brzezinski also believes the United States is more isolated than ever before, and he is deeply troubled by the government's inability to comprehend the challenges and take the appropriate actions. He warned that the U.S. may in fact become bogged down in its Middle East engagement.
Terrorism is a horrible crime that is "favored by the weak," Brzezinski said but it is important to recognize that "terrorism is a technique, not an entity." Therefore, "declaring war against terrorism is as if Eisenhower had declared war against Blitzkrieg instead of the Nazis." In order to attain global support, the United States must specify the different types of terrorists, know where they come from and discover the roots of the problem in specific terms.
Terrorism has brought national insecurity to the United States, especially following Sept. 11, Brzezinski said.
"We must be extremely careful. We have to face the fact that isolated national security is the goal of the past and no longer attainable."
The new goal must be global security. Brzezinski named four problem areas that need specific attention. He said that Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian region need to be stabilized and focused on in the future. According to Brzezinski, all four areas need to make progress for any of the problems to be solved.
Brzezinski said he is doubtful that the United States can cope with these problems alone, and he believes that allies, especially Europe, are needed. He believes the United States must create partnerships based on shared interests and equality.
Brzezinski concluded the United States needs a joint strategic vision with Europe and the United Nations,. The United States "cannot be leading by misleading" and cannot prevail if it turns anxiety about terrorism into hatred of the Islamic world as a whole.
"I fear that we could become a victimized, garrison state," said Brzezinski. "We can't prevail if we operate blindly." Preemptive policy, he added, can only be justified and credible if it is based on extremely good intelligence, not on suspicion or assumed intentions of the enemy. "We cannot prevail if foreign policy is shaped by extremists."
Marisa Long is a student employee in University Communications and Marketing.