Thursday, February 9, 2023

Former official shares political views

October 17, 2000
Former national security adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, left, talks with Sherman Garnett, dean of James Madison College, at a luncheon at the Kellogg Center on Monday. —

A former national security adviser to President Carter spoke about his international relations experience and current global stability to about 180 students, faculty and area residents at the Kellogg Center on Monday.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was the keynote speaker for the annual James Madison College Founders Circle luncheon. Steve Webster, the university’s vice president for government affairs, said Monday’s turnout was a record.

Among those at the meeting were 20 students from International Academy High School in Oakland County. They were invited by James Madison College Dean Sherman Garnett. MSU Trustee Dorothy Gonzales also attended.

The Founder’s Circle audience heard an hour-long speech by Brzezinski that he reworked because of recent overseas violence.

“I had meant to speak about America’s overall global strategy,” he said. “I hadn’t planned to speak specifically on the Mideast. Since we may be on the brink of a significant explosion there, that’s where we need to start.”

Recent violence in the Middle East is drawing significant attention to international policy. An explosion on the U.S.S. Cole, a U.S. military ship, last week is being blamed on a Mideast strife, though no groups have claimed responsibility.

“Being a foreign student, it’s very interesting to me,” said accounting senior Danil Babushkin, an international student from Russia.“I haven’t read very much about Brzezinski, but hearing him is worth skipping class.”

International relations junior Erin Mills came to the luncheon with two friends. The luncheon cost $25.

“I read about him in class,” Mills said of Brzezinski. “I am interested in hearing what he has to say about international relations.”

A question-and-answer session followed the speech.

Brzezinski began his lecture by explaining how he was involved in Middle East peace talks while he served in the Carter administration.

“At the first real significant but partial breakthrough, I never once heard the Prime Minister of Israel refer to the other side as Palestinians,” Brzezinski said. “Since, I think both have come to realize the position of each other.”

Brzezinski said neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians have evolved sufficiently on the question of Jerusalem - a location in dispute - and haven’t come to the depth of feeling for each other necessary for a long-lasting agreement.

“This is the setting the flame was struck and the fire ignited,” Brzezinski said. “It’ll be very difficult to put together the peace given the tragedies of the last two weeks.”

However, Brzezinski does have an idea of how peace can be obtained overseas.

“The presence of some third party on the ground may emerge,” he said. “It may not be premature to think that will happen to add distance between the warring parties. U.S. involvement will be maintained no matter what. That’s just the reality.”

He said the United States has an obligation, being the world’s economic and military superpower, to maintain worldwide stability.

“The central message is the U.S. has to be, at the same time, a stabilizer of world peace and initiator of peace talks,” Brzezinski said. “This can happen by creating strategic balance on Eurasia.”

He suggested a contract like NATO, which creates give-and-take relationships with member countries.

“We must stay in the Mideast and create collective security corporation,” Brzezinski said. “In Europe we have NATO and EU. We need the same kind of relationship with China, Japan and Korea.”

With such agreements, he said, there is greater security and ability to address major problems. Brzezinski said MSU could play a key role in the future of international relations.

“There will be a need for continued U.S. involvement,” he said. “We need new leaders - they may be sitting right in his room.

“That is the challenge that we face and the responsibility we must shoulder.”

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