RIP ZBIG BRZEZINSKI – Zbigniew Brzezinski was the first US Administration official I ever knew by name as a child, no doubt because he was Polish. He might have been serving a National Security Adviser to a Democrat in the White House, but he was still cool. Zbig has passed away yesterday, at the age of 89.
Brzezinski was born in Warsaw to a Polish diplomat father and spent his childhood overseas on his father’s postings. In 1938, Tadeusz Brzezinski was named the consul general in Montreal, serving throughout the war years and retiring when the Soviets took over Poland and had no more use for a bourgeois reactionary diplomat.
Zbigniew’s first calling was the academia where he perhaps unsurprisingly became an expert in communism. Quickly noticed by the powers-that-be, Brzezinski was recruited into government positions, serving the Kennedy, Johnson and finally Carter Administrations.
Brzezinski could be best described as a centrist, or a moderate liberal, but his background and academic study made him one of that nowadays very rare breed: a muscular liberal, one with no illusions about the Soviet Union and international communism. Not surprisingly, his tenure as the NSA was one long clash with Carter’s much more traditionally left-wing Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. One of Brzezinski’s most significant achievements in office was to convince Carter to begin providing aid to Afghan guerrillas following the Soviet invasion in 1979, thus laying the groundwork for the future robust assistance under Reagan.
In many instances, our political instincts would diverge, but Brzezinski was a gentlemen, and his liberalism never strident or mean-spirited. He was perhaps the last of the liberal Cold Warriors. May he rest in a well earned peace after a job well done.