Congratulations Natalia Lopatniuk & Mark Brzezinski


Lopatniuk-Brzezinski Wedding - 9-5-08 039.jpg
Last evening, I attended the moving wedding of my friend Mark Brzezinski and his beautiful new wife Natalia Lopatniuk.
The ceremony and dinner were held at the National Museum for Women in the Arts — which has a wonderful collection of painting and sculpture I had never seen before. Interestingly, Heather and Tony Podesta have donated a great deal of fabulous art to the Museum, much of which is on display in an exhibition titled “Modern Love.”
Mark Brzezinski is a national security adviser in the Obama camp — and of course his dad is former National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski. His brother and best man Ian was a close adviser to Donald Rumsfeld who is now supporting John McCain, and his sister Mika Brzezinski is a news star at MSNBC.
But Mark’s mom, Emilie Benes Brzezinski, was the real standout at the party last night. Emilie is a great sculptor at and 76 years old was the best dancer on the floor last night. And I was floored by what a great dancer Zbigniew Brzezinski is — far better than his sons who are good. (I’m lousy but try.)
I complimented him on the dance floor last night and said, “Zbig, you are a really great dancer.” His predictable response, “Well of course I am — I’ve been working at it a long time.”
But it was a terrific evening — and I wanted to congratulate Mark and Natalia on their next phase.
In related family news, monday will be the official release date of a new foreign policy book with which I have been involved, titled: America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy.
In the book, David Ignatius interviews Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski on what America needs to do to get its national security portfolio back in shape.
This book is a New America Foundation/Basic Books imprint — and I was pleased to have a hand in it.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


5 comments on “Congratulations Natalia Lopatniuk & Mark Brzezinski


    congradulations mark. may your marriage last 100 years.


  2. HOLLYWOOD says:

    @ rich, Sep 07 2008, 2:35AM
    After reading your quixotic War & Peace posts… you would be the last person to moderate anything.
    Just say you hate David Ignatius and his connections, DONE!
    Just learn that this country is a aristocratic duopoly and all you prostitutes pick one side or the other. Speaking of Statist/Collectivists Rich, look no further than the Brzezinskis… just as damaging as the other side of the false dichotomy.
    Unfortunately it’s the United States of Sociopaths and Narcissism.


  3. Joe Pizza says:

    Obama’s a joke and so is Mark Brzezinski. Pizza 4 Life.


  4. rich says:

    Maybe I should restate, concisely:
    How are we to reconcile David Ignatius’ intemperate, less than forthright, agenda-driven columns that sought to justify invading Iraq with his continued role in framing the debate over when and why we should go to war with Iran?
    I don’t mean to be impertinent.
    There’s a contradiction between the tenor and mischaracterizations of the columns and the ostensibly rational, enlightened discussions of American policy responses to a nuclear-armed Iran.
    I’d suggest keeping a very close eye on what passes for “intolerable” to the United States, and what irrational responses are posed as reasonable or within the bounds of thinkable thought and as viable military actions.
    It’s one thing to lay out the entire range of possible military actions relating to Iraq and Iran. But it’s quite another to accept the insane Strangelovian options as entirely normal and doable, with nary a ripple of discomfort or twinge of conscience. And it’s far worse to set up that framework, so soberly and with such intellect, and then turn around and publish columns demanding shrilly, but without recourse to data or reality, that we bomb or invade or utilize the extremist option.
    The basic policy framework that is to be accepted as sound or competent will clearly need to be scrutinized. Because we’ll surely see columns presuming to guide the eventual enactment of policy options without much intellectual heft or supportive data.


  5. rich says:

    I’ll have to make it a point to check out that art collection. Congrats/sounds like a nice night. –interesting how close the cross-party ties are in some cases.
    American and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy
    Looking forward to checking out the book; beyond the Amazon preview, however, the involvement of David Ignatius—whose ideas I know you respect—raises some questions about the direction and tenor of the Scrowcroft-Brzezinski discussion.
    How do we reconcile Mr. Ignatius’ role in shaping a presumably more ‘moderate’ or ‘adult’ foreign policy stance readying itself to emerge, post Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney, with several of his poorly considered agenda-driven opinion columns?
    Granted, an opinion’s an opinion, but this issue has direct bearing on the book, redirecting foreign policy onto solid and responsible ground, and Mr. Ignatius willingness to shore up facile misperceptions and lend an eager assist to lemmings headed over the cliff.
    Here’s the thing: Ignatius’ recent column egregiously painted Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as venomous, highly partisan extremists hell-bent on revenge and obsessed with tearing the Republicans limb-from-limb.
    Lots of people must find that comforting, yet Ignatius is hardly entitled to his own facts. Deviating from reality on this point can only be a conscious act: one’s political perspective can’t really obscure the public record. On a daily basis, we’ve witnessed Reid and Pelosi act with remarkable restraint, particularly in the aftermath of the Tom DeLay’s iron rule, in which he excluded Democrats entirely from the legislative process. Reid and Pelosi have taken the high road and displayed an eminently reasonable approach, given George Bush’s continued intransigence. Personally, I don’t agree that constant compromise with intransigent parties bears much fruit.
    Mr. Ignatius’ willingness to deviate from the plain reality, simply to maintain the antagonism of right-wing dead-enders, doesn’t justify continuing a tradition of mischaracterizing Democrats, especially in the context of hyper-partisan Republican rhetoric stretching from Newt Gingrich up through McConnell, Tom DeLay, Lindsey Graham and Bush-Cheney-Rove.
    The connection, of course, is that this isn’t a first for Mr. Ignatius.
    As George Bush was frantically trying to justify invading Iraq, David Ignatius deployed this same less-than-honest approach in several of his columns, giving America a good shove in the back as we were hustled off to War and Occupation.
    Ignatius penned opinions, pre-war, that were at best extremist, but plainly deviated sharply from the available facts. It’s one thing to base a column on trusted sources; it’s quite another to ignore widely published facts, on the public record, that wholly discredit the full-throated assertions thrown at the wall by George Bush. If I can read a newspaper, so can David Ignatius. And had he adequate data to substantiate the, shall we say, less responsible rhetoric Ignatius used to add momentum to Bush’s rush to war, he surely had every obligation to share his evidence with the American people. He goes a step further than yellow journalism. Ignoring what we all know while tossing red meat to the faithful and gasoline to the fire really has not served this country well, nor has it helped Republicans politically or improved our national security. With Maliki now closely allied with Iran, it’s clear Ignatius’ geopolitical acumen has taken a beating.
    Just as important, relating Ignatius’ pre-war red-meat columns to the D.C. decision-making process does not cast his integrity in a positive light. As Bush was short-circuiting the intel—you could see this happening in real time—we got those columns omitting contrary evidence and going much further in exhorting for war than any data in-hand actually warranted.
    I don’t believe these columns were accidents, nor can we afford to underestimate their function in providing a chorus sufficiently shrill to enable George Bush & Congress to comfortably go about short-circuiting the legitimate process by which this country makes decisions about whether to go to war. And that specifically was the great error here. Not how the war was waged; not whether the intel was flawed; not whether we have a plan for Occupation or a plan for exit or a plan for victory. The cause for war and the evidence for war and the actual threat was never credibly put before the American people, debated in Congress, and followed by a formal Declaration of War. The process was and is broken; current institutional arrangements deliver questionable decisions that involve long-term quagmires, wars unpopular at home and interventions commonly on the wrong side of valid political causes; most often fought for special interests sharply diverging from the American national interest; always inflicting blowback.
    Instead, the obsequious and craven ir-Resolution, an insufficient and by-definition Constitution-eviscerating path that inevitably finds Congress stumbling after the Prznt with rubber stamp in hand, crying Wait for Me! —and simply cannot deliver relatively adequate, politically-sound, or moderate-quality decisions capable of preserving American’s national security.
    [Just lost my second half in the captcha system]
    Given the visceral rhetoric of his off-the-rails columns, how can we trust David Ignatius to moderate a discussion between Scowcroft and Brzezinski in an agenda-free manner?
    From the book, Ignatius asks:
    “But to cut to the heart of the issue—Brent, can we live with an Iranian bomb? Or should we go to war to prevent it?”
    “Suppose all these good ideas go for naught, and the Iranians do what we most fear. They move to higher levels of enrichment and resume what the CIA says was a weaponization effort that was put on the shelf in 2003. [worth fact checking].
    “The question at the end of the day that we all have to struggle with is: Can the United States live with a nuclear armed Iran? Is that a tolerable situation? Other countries that we hoped wouldn’t get the bomb, notably Pakistan and North Korea, got it, and we’re living with it. Why is Iran different?”
    My sense is, as much as Ignatius’ questions seem to agree with my own perspective, that he will eventually lead the discussion in the wrong direction, if not in this venue then in the next. It’s not clear he won’t argue, against all evidence, that Iran is a ‘special case’ contrary to our experience with all the other nuclear powers who’ve proven not to be aggressive.
    His central role here undermines Scowcroft’s eminence as an ‘adult’ or moderate, indicating that the centrists poised to run things will not provide badly needed policy changes, but merely presume to steer the same course more competently. Unless Brzezinski is in charge, I don’t think we’ll see a correction that improves our security or even begins to look after the national interest.
    Another directly related case in point is Jim Baker & Warren Christopher’s attempt to codify everything that’s wrong with our current institutional approach to Congress’s mandated obligation to Declare War. Their proposal to ‘fix’ the War Powers Act compounds the problem, taking us further in the wrong direction. Having seen first Vietnam, and now Iraq, their willingness to further enable such mistakes on less than forthright grounds really calls into question their motivation, given the context. Lacing their NYTs Op-Ed with inversions of fact, Baker & Christopher presumed to repair Congressional overreach and a put-upon Executive—neither of which, obviously, are the problem. Neither of these men can apparently summon the gravitas to grapple responsibly and honestly with just how systemically unmoored our institutional processes and presumptions are from the lawful straightforward method mandated for declaring war. This issue just isn’t vulnerable to the sophistry Baker and Christopher deploy. And it is clear they intend to complete the evisceration of the clear, Constitutionally mandated mechanisms that made this country what it is.
    I noted Steve said the Baker-Christopher proposal was ‘important’; if so, it is not for routinely held reasons. Rules that pretend to make after-the-fact Congressional approval an official rubber stamp for war, simply turn the American system entirely on its head, right out in the open. Those rules will be routinely shattered, as the War Powers were an invitation for abuse, because that is the point.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *