It is impossible to tell the story of America’s side of the Cold War without Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. Brzezinski influenced generations of policymakers and transformed the way the United States conducted foreign policy. His geopolitical vision, scholarly writings, and policy recommendations to decades of presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama made him one of America’s great grand strategists.
In his new book, “Zbigniew Brzezinski: America’s Grand Strategist,” Justin Vaïsse, historian and director of the Policy Planning staff of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, offers the first full biography of Brzezinski, an immigrant who completed a remarkable journey from his native Poland to the White House. It reveals a man who weighed in on all major foreign policy debates since the 1950s, from his hawkish stance towards the Soviet Union to his advocacy for the Middle East peace process and his support for a U.S.-China global partnership. Through its examination of Brzezinski’s statesmanship and comprehensive vision, this intellectual portrait raises important questions about the respective roles of ideas and identity in foreign policy.
On April 11, the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, in cooperation with the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), hosted a discussion on Brzezinski’s rich legacy. Following introductory remarks from Martin Indyk, John C. Whitehead Distinguished Fellow in International Diplomacy in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, Vaïsse provided brief remarks on the book. Indyk then moderated a conversation between Vaïsse, Francis J. Gavin, Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS, David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post, and Mary Elise Sarotte, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Panelists took questions from the audience after the discussion.
PanelistFrancis J. Gavin Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and Director - Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAISMary Elise Sarotte Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies - Johns Hopkins SAIS