Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, died Friday at a hospital in Virginia at the age of 89. Though the New York Times acknowledged that the former government advisor was a "hawkish strategic theorist," misrepresenting his legacy as one of otherwise infinite positivity may not be as easy as the establishment might like to think.
As the United Kingdom plays around with levels of the so-called "terror threat" following a devastating attack by an ISIS-inspired individual — and as the Philippines goes into an almost complete state of martial law following ISIS-inspired destruction — Brzezinski's timely death serves as a reminder to seek a deeper understanding of where modern terrorism originated in the first place.
As the New York Times explains, Brzezinski's "rigid hatred of the Soviet Union" guided much of America's foreign policy "for better or worse." From the Times:
"He supported billions in military aid for Islamic militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He tacitly encouraged China to continue backing the murderous regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, lest the Soviet-backed Vietnamese take over that country." [emphasis added]
While it is progressive of the New York Times to note Brzezinski's support for Islamic militants, downplaying the effect of his vindictive foreign policy agenda with a mere sentence does an injustice to the true horror behind Brzezinski's policies.
Because a 1973 coup in Afghanistan had installed a new secular government that was leaning towards the Soviets, the U.S. endeavored to undermine this new government by organizing multiple coup attempts through America's lackey states, Pakistan and Iran (the latter was under the control of the U.S.-backed Shah at the time.) In July 1979, Brzezinski officially authorized aid to the mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan to be delivered through the CIA's program "Operation Cyclone."
Many people defend America's decision to arm the mujahideen in Afghanistan because they believe it was necessary to defend the country and the wider region from Soviet aggression. However, Brzesinski's own statements directly contradict this rationale. In a 1998 interview, Brzezinski admitted that in conducting this operation, the Carter administration had "knowingly increased the probability" that the Soviets would intervene militarily (suggesting they began arming the Islamist factions before the Soviets invaded, making the rationale redundant since there was no invasion Afghanistan freedom fighters needed to repel at the time). Brzezinski then stated:
"Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war."