Last Thursday night, my colleagues and I at the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation hosted an extraordinary dinner at which Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke about America’s stakes in the worsening Middle East crisis.
I am working this weekend to review the transcript of Dr. Brzezinski’s opening remarks — and may post this and his riveting response to some questions shortly.
But as a teaser, Paul Richter of the Los Angeles Times has this comment from the Brzezinski dinner in his latest on Condi Rice’s diplomatic effort:
Rice said that Hezbollah, because of its attacks on Israel, had disqualified itself from any future role in the Lebanese government. However, they would have to find a way to give Shiite Muslims, Lebanon’s largest group, a voice in government.
Rice is not planning to meet leaders of Syria or Hezbollah on this trip. The Syrians, who have strong influence over Hezbollah, have been contacted by many European and Arab countries and do not need a direct dialogue with the Americans, she said.
Others disagree strongly. Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to President Carter, said last week at a dinner sponsored by the New America Foundation that if Rice doesn’t meet with leaders the administration does not approve of, her trip would amount to “sitting in front of a mirror, talking to herself.”
“That’s not diplomacy,” Brzezinski said.
Rice also might face difficulties talking to U.S. allies in the region. Three major Arab countries — Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — are important participants in the new effort to make peace.
— Steve Clemons