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Zbigniew Brzezinski on the middle East, USA, Russia, Ukraine and historic phase "of posthegemony"
Material posted: Publication date: 18-02-2014

In October last year, the portal TerraAmerica dedicated several publications to the Russian edition of the book by Zbigniew Brzezinski "Strategic vision. America and the global crisis". Later, in December, we contacted the author with a request to share with our readers your thoughts on ways to address the Syrian and Iranian issues, as well as Russia's role in the middle East.

In January we agreed to an exclusive interview, which took last week, Zbigniew Brzezinski, our correspondent Yulia Netesova. The conversation was very intense and went beyond the initially agreed project. Thus, our readers can also know the opinion of the geostrategy of the situation in Ukraine and about the political awakening of the peoples in the period of "posthegemony" or, otherwise formulated, the current situation in the world Boris Mezhuev, in the era of the loss by the United States global leadership.

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– Dear Mr. Brzezinski, the development of the situation around Syria and the first contacts the American authorities with Iran suggests that we are witnessing the beginning of the formation of a new configuration in the middle East. What is Your vision of the situation in the region?

– The situation in the middle East has become more complex due to the political awakening of the region's population. The middle East until the last century was under the dominant influence of the Ottoman Empire in the last century – England and France, and then more and more under American. Now, however, things have changed: the Nations are awakened and begin to assert their political and religious rights. As a result of external domination weakens, and internal conflicts grow, covering new territory. In this context, the solution to the problems of Syria and Iran, which You said can be found only through broad engagement of stakeholders with different levels of influence in the region to achieve common, shall we say, agreement.

I believe that although America and dominates more in the region, she remains the most influential external actor. Europe show traces of influence. Russia is too. And today we see China is also beginning to play a role. I believe that the cooperation of these powers – even if their relative strength is not evenly distributed – can make some compromises. We have already seen this in the situation with Iran. I think after a while it is possible and in Syria.

– What, in Your opinion, the position of the American President regarding the Middle East? For example, how important is it to negotiations with Iran and how great is his merit that action against Syria remained in a peaceful way, and military force was not applied?

I think President Obama is configured to extract a reasonable and rational lessons from the hostilities of the past fifteen years in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows that military action, which involved more politically awakened peoples, are fundamentally different from the colonial wars, when the external highly developed countries could easily break the resistance of the local population. He was determined not to involve America in another war in the middle East, if not the absolute necessity, and therefore ready to work with other stakeholders, such as Europe, Russia and China in search of a solution that will allow to avoid a military clash.

– Do You see any groups within the American establishment, who have insisted and continue to insist on tougher action against Syria and Iran? What is their interest? Why they prefer military pressure peaceful means to resolve conflict?

– I think because they have a fairly simplistic view, first, on the nature of the problem, which may require the use of force. Secondly, they have a simplistic view of the nature of the conflict in the region in which the first population, previously pliable and frightened, now, as I have often repeated, awakened. Woke up and realized themselves – politically, religiously, ethnically, linguistically. So people who advocate a military solution to the problems of the region, just underestimate the political implications of such a decision and have a very simplified idea about how the result is achieved. Honestly, I think they just don't understand all the novelty of the challenge faced by the international community and, in this particular case, American society, as a result of the processes that occur in the middle East and in the wider spaces of South-West Asia.

– That is, they require more stringent actions, because I sincerely believe that you can crush both modes and solve everything?

– Yes, this is such a primitive point of view.

– My next question is about the relationship of détente with Iran and easing of the Syrian crisis. Do You think that would be a possible détente in relations with Iran without the easing of the Syrian crisis? Is there any relationship between these problems and, if so, what kind?

– I consider that progress in the negotiations with Iran are possible without solving the Syrian problem. In the near future. However, long-term solution to the problem of Iran requires some stabilization and, at least the primary resolution of the Syrian crisis. The fact that Iran and Syria are neighbors. Iran has an obvious interest in the problem, it is important, what the political implications of the Syrian crisis. It is obvious that the main impetus for the violence in Syria was not a political necessity and not political motives. It is essentially a religious conflict, and religious conflicts, as a rule, very difficult to resolve through compromise.

– How, in Your opinion, the Syrian crisis may affect negotiations with Iran? Take, for example, the recent incident when Iran was first invited to the negotiations over Syria and then cancelled the invitation. Do You think that this has been a disappointment to Tehran and had a negative impact on the policy of détente with Iran?

– First of all, let me say this: my personal opinion was and remains that Iran be invited. Of course, there are counterarguments, and they are not primitive and do not deserve to be on the threshold to sweep away. However, I stand by my view that it would be better to include Iran in the negotiation process.

If the problem of distribution of power in Syria will not be resolved in a way that will lead to some stability, then, of course, this will have a negative impact on Iran and will likely cause additional tension. And yet the main priority of Iran economic recovery, a renewed participation in international Affairs, the lifting of sanctions, the ability to capitalize on its growth potential, including, of course, the use of natural resources.

– My next question is about Russia. What, in Your understanding, Russia's role in all these processes? Do You think that the guarantees provided by Russia regarding the Syrian chemical weapons not only mitigated the situation but also created the American administration favorable conditions for détente with Iran?

– I think, they [Russian warranty] helped to avoid the use of force by the United States as they appeared at a time when the situation was very difficult in the United States. America felt a tremendous pressure in favor of the use of force, despite the fact that those who opposed military intervention, has indicated that if force be applied, the further escalation will be inevitable.

So in that sense – Yes, it was very useful.

Russia has its own interests in the region, in particular, in relations with Syria, to some extent, in relations with Iran, and therefore, from the Russian point of view, conflict should be avoided, especially because it is reasonable to assume that American intervention in the region through the use of force will only contribute to further violence. And Russia is just on the border of the region. The Russian Caucasus, some parts of Central Asia and even the Muslim regions of Russia are highly susceptible to the spread of violence. Therefore in Russia's interests to limit what is happening the Middle East and to prevent the spread of conflict to neighboring territories.

It is a pity that, when there is the Chechen problem, first attempt to resolve it through compromise with the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, have not been taken seriously.

– My last question relates to Your recent books and reviews on it, which we published on our portal. In the book, do You pay attention to the Middle East. My question is both General and specific. How, in Your opinion, will the situation in the middle East in the near future? And more specific question: do You think that the middle East will become a kind of model of international relations, which will be determined by a new balance of power? What would be the region in the near future?

– The region is certainly important economically. In my opinion, it is also a potential source of big trouble, if only will not interfere with countries that have some influence and not jointly will put strong pressure on the warring countries and factions with the aim of forcing them to stabilize and compromise.

Thus by extension, we are, as I argue in my book, in the phase that I call "posthegemony". In this phase, we are no longer threatened by the competition or large-scale conflicts between major powers for world domination – that occurred in the twentieth century. I guess we now have to face the very turbulent processes at a lower level, are not conducive to stability. That is why a compromise solution between the major powers is essential.

– What will this mean for the Middle East in practice? If the major powers are no longer of such importance as before, that will save the middle East?

Only their cooperation. And this applies not only to the Middle East. We are now seeing a potentially dangerous crisis involving Ukraine and Russia. We need to realize that in a world in which we now live, the crises of this type should be resolved through compromise agreements major powers. I spoke about this in Munich at the end of January.

We need a compromise solution in Ukraine, a compromise solution between the European Union and Ukraine, we also need a compromise between America and the European Union, on the one hand, and Russia on the other, to stabilize the situation and to find a formula that will be compatible with both long-term goals of the European Union, and with the worldview of Russia. But not so when using economic sanctions and pressure compel the country to adopt proposals limiting its sovereignty and independence.

Interviewed By Yulia Netesova

Source: Terra America

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