Brzezinski warns Bush about provoking Iran
- Ex-national security adviser warns that Bush is seeking a pretext to
By Barry Grey in Washington DC
2 February 2007
World Socialist Web Site
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee on Thursday, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the
national security adviser in the Carter
administration, delivered a scathing critique of the
war in Iraq and warned that the Bush administration's
policy was leading inevitably to a war with Iran, with
incalculable consequences for US imperialism in the
Middle East and internationally.
Brzezinski, who opposed the March 2003 invasion and
has publicly denounced the war as a colossal foreign
policy blunder, began his remarks on what he called
the "war of choice" in Iraq by characterizing it as "a
historic, strategic and moral calamity."
"Undertaken under false assumptions," he continued,
"it is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its
collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses
are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by
Manichean principles and imperial hubris, it is
intensifying regional instability."
Brzezinski derided Bush's talk of a "decisive
ideological struggle" against radical Islam as
"simplistic and demagogic," and called it a "mythical
historical narrative" employed to justify a
"protracted and potentially expanding war."
"To argue that America is already at war in the region
with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the
epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy,"
Most stunning and disturbing was his description of a
"plausible scenario for a military collision with
Iran." It would, he suggested, involve "Iraqi failure
to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of
Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some
provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US
blamed on Iran, culminating in a `defensive' US
military action against Iran that plunges a lonely
America into a spreading and deepening quagmire
eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and
This was an unmistakable warning to the US Congress,
replete with quotation marks to discount the
"defensive" nature of such military action, that the
Bush administration is seeking a pretext for an attack
on Iran. Although he did not explicitly say so,
Brzezinski came close to suggesting that the White
House was capable of manufacturing a
provocationincluding a possible terrorist attack
within the USto provide the casus belli for war.
That a man such as Brzezinski, with decades of
experience in the top echelons of the US foreign
policy establishment, a man who has the closest links
to the military and to intelligence agencies, should
issue such a warning at an open hearing of the US
Senate has immense and grave significance.
Brzezinski knows whereof he speaks, having authored
provocations of his own while serving as Jimmy
Carter's national security adviser. In that capacity,
as he has since acknowledged in published writings, he
drew up the covert plan at the end of the 1970s to
mobilize Islamic fundamentalist mujaheddin to topple
the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan and draw the
Soviet Union into a ruinous war in that country.
Following his opening remarks, in response to
questions from the senators, Brzezinski reiterated his
warning of a provocation.
He called the senators' attention to a March 27, 2006
report in the New York Times on "a private meeting
between the president and Prime Minister Blair, two
months before the war, based on a memorandum prepared
by the British official present at this meeting." In
the article, Brzezinski said, "the president is cited
as saying he is concerned that there may not be
weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, and that
there must be some consideration given to finding a
different basis for undertaking the action."
He continued: "I'll just read you what this memo
allegedly says, according to the New York Times: `The
memo states that the president and the prime minister
acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been
found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not
finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush
talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation.'
"He described the several ways in which this could be
done. I won't go into that... the ways were quite
sensational, at least one of them.
"If one is of the view that one is dealing with an
implacable enemy that has to be removed, that course
of action may under certain circumstances be
appealing. I'm afraid that if this situation in Iraq
continues to deteriorate, and if Iran is perceived as
in some fashion involved or responsible, or a
potential beneficiary, that temptation could arise."
At another point Brzezinski remarked on the
conspiratorial methods of the Bush administration and
all but described it as a cabal. "I am perplexed," he
said, "by the fact that major strategic decisions seem
to be made within a very narrow circle of
individualsjust a few, probably a handful, perhaps
not more than the fingers on my hand. And these are
the individuals, all of whom but one, who made the
original decision to go to war, and used the original
justifications to go to war."
None of the senators in attendance addressed
themselves to the stark warning from Brzezinski. The
Democrats in particular, flaccid, complacent and
complicit in the war conspiracies of the Bush
administration, said nothing about the danger of a
provocation spelled out by the witness.
Following the hearing, this reporter asked Brzezinski
directly if he was suggesting that the source of a
possible provocation might be the US government
itself. The former national security adviser was
The following exchange took place:
Q: Dr. Brzezinski, who do you think would be carrying
out this possible provocation?
A: I have no idea. As I said, these things can never
be predicted. It can be spontaneous.
Q: Are you suggesting there is a possibility it could
originate within the US government itself?
A: I'm saying the whole situation can get out of hand
and all sorts of calculations can produce a
circumstance that would be very difficult to trace.
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