STREAMING LIVE — Zbigniew Brzezinski & Brent Scowcroft on “America and the World”


Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV
brzezinski twn book 2.jpgTonight I will be moderating a discussion with two of the most significant foreign policy observers and practitioners in America today — Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft.
Brzezinski, who is a Trustee & Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter. Scowcroft, who chairs the Scowcroft Group and is co-chair of the Aspen Strategy Group of the Aspen Institute, was National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.
Tonight they and I will be discussing their new New America Foundation/Basic books release, America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy which I think is the single best book now on the market of what America needs to do to get its strategic position back into positive territory.
scowcroft twn book 2.jpgThe two foreign policy giants recently engaged in numerous taped, moderated discussions about American national security and foreign policy with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. This book authored by Brzezinski, Scowcroft, and Ignatius is the edited product of those discussions.
The LIVE STREAMING will begin at approximately 6 pm EST and the program will run until approximately 7 pm EST.
To buy your copy of the book, go here.
I am deeply vested in this book as to some degree, it was an idea I and the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program helped hatch and produce.
I want to thank Basic Books — all of its staff and leadership — but also its former Editor, William Frucht, as well as Perseus CEO Frank Pearl, Basic Books President John Scherer, Basic Books Publicity Director Michele Jacob, but especially. . .
Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft — who are not only brilliant observers of the contemporary scene but who also are essentially the Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau of U.S. foreign policy — as well as David Ignatius who knew how to provoke, to tease out and set the pace for an incredible, discussion and tour de force of America’s current circumstances and prospects on the world stage.
More later. Watch with us.
— Steve Clemons

America and the World TWN.jpg


6 comments on “STREAMING LIVE — Zbigniew Brzezinski & Brent Scowcroft on “America and the World”

  1. quietpc3400 says:

    I also missed the live broadcast. Would greatly appreciate a link to replay the recording.


  2. rich says:

    Another reason empires fail is because our glorious leaders forget who is serving whom, and bring some of that “global reach” back home, to visit on American citizens what they’ve already visited on the citizens of sovereign nations abroad: Excerpt below–>
    There’s a Rubicon that’s been crossed here, and just where that is doesn’t seem clear to those busy draping themselves in the mantle of responsiblity. Official Washington just doesn’t seem clear on the concept of civilian rule over military forces. We don’t have enough troops for Iraq or Afghanistan, but we have enough troops to ‘protect’ American citizens here at home? Tell ya what: give us back our National Guard, put ’em back under the control of the state governors where they belong, and let ’em do their job. Send the military back to confront external threats, as is their only legitimate purpose. It’s called America. The only people disturbing the peace and causing public disorder are those in Washington, D.C., employed by Homeland Security and related agencies—see the unwarranted and unprovoked suppression of civil liberties at the RNC in St. Paul-Minneapolis.
    Yeahh. They’re here to “help” us. Right. God help us all.
    There are plenty of civilians that can do that work. Don’t these guys still have Osama bin Laden to catch? Forgettin’ something aren’t they? Seems to me they still have a war to win in Afghanistan and another country to de-occupy. It’s not time to go after another country here at home because, hey, this one won’t resist as much.
    begin article —>
    “Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1
    3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army
    By Gina Cavallaro – Staff writer
    Posted : Monday Sep 8, 2008 6:15:06 EDT
    The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
    Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.
    Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.
    It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.
    But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.
    The command is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., but the soldiers with 1st BCT, who returned in April after 15 months in Iraq, will operate out of their home post at Fort Stewart, Ga., where they’ll be able to go to school, spend time with their families and train for their new homeland mission as well as the counterinsurgency mission in the war zones.
    In the meantime, they’ll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.
    They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.
    Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.
    The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
    “It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”
    The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
    “I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” said Cloutier, describing the experience as “your worst muscle cramp ever — times 10 throughout your whole body.”
    So, they’re here to protect us. Good luck with that.


  3. barrisj says:

    Both these guys are inveterate apologists for US hegemony, and what they and others fail to recognise is that the costs for maintaining – or, indeed expanding – US “global reach” has now become fiscally untenable, as serious choices have to be made between apportioning taxpayer dollars to either a massive fix of a broken and over-indebted economy and financial system, or continued “full-spectrum dominance” mode on a “permanent-war” basis. Historically, empires failed because the costs for maintaining regional supremacy was too large, in both monetary and human treasure, and the US is no exception, full-stop.


  4. rich says:

    While I admire Zbigniew Brzezinski and understand Scowcroft prefers more responsible and effective methods of pursuing an American agenda (even if his ends aren’t all that different from George W.’s, even if he could not have been unaware of George H.W.’s method of fattening up Saddam Hussein via ag loans and arms sales and the Banco Lavoro), I’m still not persuaded David Ignatius has the judgment to moderate such a debate.
    I’m happy to assume Ignatius has done fine work–elsewhere, and I haven’t had the time to track it all in detail. And I can ackowledge the high regard in which Steve holds Mr. Ignatius. Yet here we have Ignatius framing the policy discussion over whether America “can tolerate” a nuclear-armed Iran, as though Iran somehow differs from any other nation that possesses nuclear weapons. That’s not a role anyone should feel comfortable with, as Ignatius produced several columns in the rush to invade and occupy Iraq that were the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded movie theater–though he was not the only one working to ignite a stampede. Those columns badly damaged David Ignatius’ record, if not his stature, and called into question his ability to deliver insight that’s free from agenda-driven purposes or offer policy guidance that responsibly pursues American security in any real sense. Those pre-Iraq invasion columns were shrill, wholly departed from available info/intel, and were clearly designed to induce reckless action and shove the United States into an unprovoked and unwinnable war. And preemptive wars, as anyone knows, did not well-serve those nations who initiated them in WWII and WWI. The past 5 years have driven home that unlearned lesson, both in the conduct of the war, the consequences on the international stage, but most important, underscoring the codified and critical necessity of sticking to the lawful process by which America decides to go to war in the first place.
    The concern here is that David Ignatius hasn’t learned any lesson or done any course correction: a more recent column flatly mischaracterized the tenor and method of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who’ve if anything held their fire, muted their rhetoric, restrained their partisan but legally justified Democratic base and took not only impeachment, but contempt of Congress off the table. But Pelosi and Reid are hardly the venomous, revenge-driven, hyper-partisan ideologues that David Ignatius said they were. What’s more, in the wake of Tom DeLays’ Iron Rule, the contemptuous rhetoric of Gingrich and company, and the corrupt Republican Congress that eliminated any minority legislative role—there’s little room to complain about the other guy. Take issue with the speck in the other guy’s eye. David Ignatius enthusiastically waded deep into Orwellian territory to carry out what can only be described as a character assassination not simply, Reid and Pelosi, but of the historical record.
    But let’s ignore the Dem/Repub party angle, as revealing as it is. It’s reasonable enough that foreign policy scholars–writers–should be able to engage policy issues in academic circles to examine our options, and subsequently write columns opining about what course of action our nation should actually take. Why not?
    It’s quite another thing to set up a framework among advisers & decision makers, apparently reasonable but obviously open to misuse, and then drive a Strangelovian Mack truck of overheated rhetoric through the gaping hole you’ve created in the basic fabric of intellectual analysis, political cost-benefit, rational policy and shared common sense that holds us all, and the nation, together.
    Mr. Ignatius has moved from pushing hard for the invasion of Iraq on highly questionable rationale, to framing the discussion between our two most likely decision makers about what constitutes the basis for another unprovoked attack, this time on Iran. That just ain’t healthy. Mulling the limited set of explanations for this pattern, though, yields a less flattering conclusion. Perhaps Mr. Ignatius was pleased to have the neocons knock over all the pieces on the Middle East gameboard, so he could swoop in as the voice of reason, and presume to be the adult in the room. Perhaps he was privy to more of Dick Cheney’s lies than the average person. Since Cheney lied in private to Republicans and Democrats alike, and served as an Anonymous Source to many who carried water for The Administration, that’s hardly unlikely. Perhaps he got suckered by the neocon game, or simply wanted something done about Hussein.
    Of course, any way you slice it, Ignatius’s recent record is problematic for his current role and his wider credibility. If taken in by Cheney (& Co.), his naivete is striking, and he clearly wasn’t savvy enough to read newspapers or consult Houghton Woods or Gregg Thielmann about the adequacy of the intel. If he bought into the ‘necessity’ of a preemptive and unilateral invasion, it speaks poorly of his judgment, geopolitical acumen, and disinterest in a national integrity that practices the constitutionality it preaches. If assisting the neocons in a spectacular failure merely to rearrange the pieces of the MidEast chessboard, then David Ignatius is as spectacular a failure as Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld or Henry Kissinger (the Wormtongue in Paul Bremer & George W. Bush’s ear).
    Much more telling is Ignatius’ (& others’) failure to view the MidEast regional game on a global chessboard; with China and Russia ascendant (not to mention India, Brasil, and oil-producers like Venezuela), the endgame has spun into unforeseen, if predictable directions. The first being the newfound alliance that has Iraq “greeting [Iran] with flowers” instead of American GIs, the latest being a rearrangement of the world stage that leaves America under-developed, infrastructure-poor, resource-dependent, out-maneuvered if not geopolitically outflanked, and far behind in the race for technological solutions, manufacturing prowess and economic advantage.
    If David Ignatius couldn’t see that coming, or thought a good war would be just the thing to resolve a long string of remarkably poor decisions that stood far outside our common interest, he just wasn’t looking.
    Consider: in hock up to our ears, dependent on foreign oil, riding a tick-addled systemically-gamed Wall Street long-riddled with Enron-accounting, saddled with an ideological fetish for globalization that’s eviscerated our manufacturing base, leaning heavily on a mortage-lending house of cards that targeted the very folks that no longer make livable wages due to that same job-sucking globalization—–and having removed the post-1929 safeguards (Glass-Steagall, etc.)——and more critically, with China and Japan flexing softer power through its ownership of American debt and currency—-
    —–could it ever have been a good idea to jump into another quagmire based on the same failed assumptions and hubris as was Vietnam? This isn’t hindsight.
    My larger point is this: David Ignatius’s columns were no accident. They were the product of a conscious decision to further the neocon agenda &/or push the United States over the brink to war. Yet I don’t believe Ignatius was entirely unaware of the political context, our tenuous circumstances, or even the fraudulent status of most of the intel. It’s possible, but not likely. While lack of knowledge, a horizon-choking social bubble, ingenuous faith in what he’s told or disingenuous faith in what he writes, all may’ve played a role, even brilliant thinkers and writers have an obligation to adhere to the facts in the newspaper columns they write, substantiate the viscerally provocative statements they make, particularly at crucial junctures, and reconcile those columns with the academic work in which they frame the overall policy questions.
    David Ignatius has not sufficiently reconciled the tenor and purpose of his columns (not all, some) with the apparently reasonable academic work that frames our decision-making. Pre-Iraq War, Ignatius judgment ill-served this nations’ security or its interests—now he holds a primary role in the debate over how to handle Iran. There’s been no reassessment or reaxamination between then and now of our [his] assumptions.
    And make no mistake—I looked at the book, and found some of what Ignatius was saying to be stated in very reasonable terms, even if they were open to interpretation. Two major problems: that tone is entirely at odds with the agenda-driven columns Ignatius penned, both in substance and purpose; and second, more viewpoints and broader thought processes need to be included in the original discussion framework. If Brent Scowcroft merely pursues the same objectives using different methods, we’ll be no better of than we were before. If our goal is to retain the ability to coerce sovereign nations, or have that right, then we’ve learned nothing.
    How do we reconcile Ignatius’s dual MO? One academic, thoughtful, open-minded, apparently reasonable–conflicting with the other–intemperate, reckless and poorly-sourced, hyper-partisan, and poorly-sourced? I’d consider this just a trick of the rhetorical light, but that that has no explanatory power. The timing, critical momentum imparted, stance unrelated to the preponderance of data, and the grain of the text, all say otherwise. David Ignatius erred on Iraq, and we’ve yet to correct course or repair the institutional damage.


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    I’m truly disappointed to have missed this live conversaation.
    Still I can get gist of what was said to a good extent, because the leaves turn in Aspen….


  6. Keith says:

    Thank you for hosting such a great talk. I would like to share it with friends and family. Will this video be available on the site for future viewing?


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