News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Brzezinski Book Reviewed

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brzezinski Book Reviewed

An excellent review of Zbigniew Brzinski's new book by Lenin's Tomb's Richard Seymour. Brzezinski slams not only the idiot King's Iraq/War on Terror but lambastes the last 50 three regimes for ineptitude and gross imperial mistakes.

Finding Brzezinski refreshingly candid, Seymour faults the former Secretary of State:

Brzezinski’s amoral realism allows him to perceive and state bluntly what most of Bush’s apologists cannot, but his analysis is nevertheless flawed in several respects. First, little attention is paid to the role of capital. There is a bluff acknowledgment of ‘interests’, but the treatment is glancing and superficial. As with most foreign policy ‘realists’, the state’s primacy as a unit in international relations is tautologically assumed. The global projection of ad hoc military power is reduced to a matter of statecraft. Second, Bush’s decision to wage war on Iraq is reduced to hubris and arrogance. There is little attempt to understand the strategic reasons for the decision. For instance, while the administration’s gamble on Iraq was arguably reckless, the strategic advantages of creating a pro-American regime with its hands on the oil spigot in Iraq were sufficiently compelling that most of the US political class and business press vocally supported the war, not just the hardcore of neoconservatives and energy capitalists supportive of Bush. Even in the midst of failure, most Democrats and Republicans are unwilling to withdraw, fearing a Saigon moment. Third, while critical of the failure of any US president since 1990 to press meaningfully for a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict along the lines of officially espoused support for UN Resolution 242, Brzezinski offers little in the way of analysis as to why this is so. He credits domestic ‘lobbies’ with a distorting influence that takes no account of how the policies advocated by, for instance, the ‘Israel lobby’ resonate with pre-existing strategies. Aside from this analytical vacuity, the book suffers from a surfeit of cliches. We are reminded that the British also had an empire, that there may be comparisons made with the Roman one, that democracy cannot be imposed on traditional societies overnight (here Brzezinski derides ‘shortsighted American efforts’ in Palestine, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and that nemesis follows hubris.
What Seymour fails to do is to go into a longer term view of capital's role in the extension of the American empire. While granting that China is a formidable force, Seymour and Brzezinski do not undertake to understand what it is that makes American capitalism so appealing tot he rets of the world. At least one aspect, American culture has sometimes presented itself in Brzezinski's TV appearances, Seymour has little to say about it in his review. It is this aspect of capital, along with the false consciousness that it spawns, which makes American imperial power formidable--well beyond the economic or political dimensions.

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