17 January, 2010 — The Real News Network
TRNN REPLAY: Zbigniew Brzezinski: An Israeli attack on Iran would be a disaster
Zbigniew Brzezinski Interview Part 3
PAUL JAY (Intro): In 1979, when the Irian revolution overthrew the American allied Shah, Zbigniew Brzezinski was National Security advisor to President Jimmy Carter. Thirty years later, Iran is still a central challenge facing US geo-political strategy.
In the third segment of my interview with Dr. Brzezinski, I asked him about Israel’s threat to bomb Iranian Nuclear facilities and the American strategy towards Iran.
I started by asking Dr. Brzezinski about an interview he gave last September to the website the daily beast. In that interview, Dr. Brzezinski was asked:
How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest? HE answered: “We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?
He was then asked: “What if they fly over anyway? Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not.
I sat down with Dr. Brzezinski at the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington DC. where he is a counselor and trustee.
JAY: Talk about American strategy towards Iran. And it’s fairly well known you had a bit of a falling-out with President Obama on this. You were talking about opposing any potential Israeli attack on Iran. You weren’t the only [inaudible]
BRZEZINSKI: No, I wasn’t saying “opposing”. I was saying that we should not let them use our airspace without our permission, because no matter what, we would be held as complicit, and we will be paying the price for it. So our view is that this is not desirable; we should not allow our airspace to be used. If we want it to be used, fine, but let’s be clear about it: it’s not a good idea to stumble into a war regarding which you’re ambivalent. That decision has to be made with open eyes. But my view on Iran is that we have to be patient, and that deterrence can work. We don’t need to increase the scale of the conflict in the region that we have been discussing, because an increase in that conflict involving the Iranians in a collision with us would make our task in Afghanistan absolutely impossible. It would probably reignite the conflict in Iraq, would set the Persian Gulf ablaze, would increase the price of oil twofold, threefold, fourfold, and Americans will be paying five, six dollars a gallon at the gas stations. Europe will become even more dependent on the Soviet Union for energy. So what is the benefit to us?
JAY: The people advocating this more militaristic approach, I have to ask, do you think they mean it? Or is this good cop, bad cop?
BRZEZINSKI: I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know.
JAY: [inaudible] Pandora’s box this would open boggles the mind.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I would think any reasonable person would conclude that, and I think the United States is not in favor of the war, and that’s why we’re doing what we can in Geneva.
JAY: Is Israel serious in these threats?
BRZEZINSKI: I have no idea. I have no idea. All I know is, as an analyst of international politics, that this would be a disaster. And, frankly, I think that it’ll be a disaster for us more than for Israel—more than for Israel in the short run, and a fundamental disaster for Israel in the long run, because if the consequence of that is that in the end we are forced out of the region, as we might be because almost sort of dynamic hatred that develops—and have no illusions about it, the conflict spreads, we’re going to be alone. The Russians are not going to be with us. They’re not suckers. The Europeans are not going to be with us. They don’t like to be in the forefront of conflict for historic reasons. We are going to be engaged. And if we are finally driven out, how much would you bet on the survival of Israel for more than five to ten years after all that has happened? So, you know, some people who criticize me for being straightforward on this think this is an anti-Israeli point of view. You know, they’re entitled to their demagogy. But my view is it’ll be a geopolitical disaster for us in the short run, and to the extent that Israelis are concerned about it, for themselves.
JAY: The pressure that’s being put on Iran is pushing Iran closer to Russia and China.
BRZEZINSKI: No, it’s not pushing them close to Russia or China. We’re pushing the Chinese and the Russians to engage in a more direct conflict with the Iranians, but they’re reluctant because they have a different view on the situation. And in a different way, each has different interests.
JAY: But Russia and China are both getting much more involved in the Iranian economy [inaudible] Shanghai Cooperation Agreement meetings.
BRZEZINSKI: No, no, no, no. Wait a second. Wait a second. The Chinese are getting more involved in Iranian economy ’cause they need energy, and they’re not going to be particularly grateful if we produce a conflict in the region. And that will also affect them. And what consequences that might have for the world economy is hard to predict. All I’m saying is don’t trifle with the silly notion, oh, we’ll just bomb them and the problem is solved. It’s a false analogy, and historically it’s one fundamental lesson we shouldn’t forget: Stalin and the Soviet Union was more of a threat than Iran ever will be, and yet we deterred it. Mao Zedong talked of a nuclear war which might kill 300 million people, and so what [inaudible] we didn’t have a war with the Chinese. Why should we act like crazies in dealing with Iran?
JAY: Thanks very much.
BRZEZINSKI: Thank you very much.
JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.