Does America Still Matter? Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ‘Strategic Vision’

As we celebrate America’s anniversary, Harold Evans says we should look at Zbigniew Brzezinski’s sobering and pessimistic account of the country’s status in the world today—and consider why the world still needs us.

Harold Evans in The Daily Beast:

1341579181020.cachedIn the vicinity of July 4, it’s probably imprudent to mention that America has lost its dominant position of world leadership, according to a renowned scholar of geopolitics, Zbigniew Brzezinski. He is as sturdily patriotic as anyone, but as a Cold Warrior, presidential adviser, and foreign-policy professor at Johns Hopkins, he has seen too much to follow the drum.

He went against the grain of elite opinion in the 50s by predicting that the Soviet Union was doomed to break up, and break up along nationalist lines; he foresaw the danger of allowing Ayatollah Khomeini to control the Iranian revolution and urged military action to forestall him; in the late 70s, he forecast the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He’s been so right on Soviet matters that it is downright disconcerting to read in his new book Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power that America now exhibits the same symptoms of decay as the Soviet Union did just before its fall: a gridlocked governmental system incapable of enacting serious policy revisions, bankrupting itself with a gross military budget; failing in a decades-long attempt to control Afghanistan; a ruling class cynically insensitive to widening social disparities while hypocritically masking its own privileged lifestyle; and finally, in foreign affairs, becoming increasingly self-isolated while precipitating a geopolitically damaging hostility with China.

Brzezinski concedes this parallel may over drawn—there is the little matter of American freedom, for instance—but he is surely right that there is a dangerous new volatility.

More here.