Force in Iran would be 'disastrous,' ex-security adviser tells BYU
In BYU address, former security adviser warns of hefty consequences
PROVO — If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, it's not the end of the world, a former national security adviser told a standing-room- only audience at BYU.
"Use of force (against Iran) is as much of a disaster as Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, who advised former President Jimmy Carter and is a professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University.
Brzezinski explained that if the United States bombed Iran because of fears of nuclear weapons, the consequences would be negative and, for the most part, unpredictable.
However, if the U.S. knew Iran had a nuclear bomb, it could work on disengagement, which had already worked with Stalin and Mao Zedong.
"There is a tendency to think that we are being strategically very clever by the reiteration that force is not off the table," Brzezinski said. "And the problem with that is, it doesn't drive the Iranians toward accommodation; it drives them toward nationalist unity against us and makes the negotiation process less likely to succeed."
Brzezinski's lecture, organized by the Wheatley Institution and the David M. Kennedy Center at BYU, kicked off a semester-long speaking docket, which will include Rabbi David Rosen at 7:30 Wednesday night in the Hinckley Center and four-star Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, in March.
Brzezinski began by explaining the rapidly changing world scene and the shifting of global power from the Atlantic powers to Asia and the pacific.
As that power shifts, a new pecking order is developing, he said — one in which the U.S. is still at the top but perhaps in a less permanent position.
"The United States still has a composite mix of elements of power which make it … likely to remain (the pre-eminent power), I think I can say confidently, maybe for 20 more years," he said. "After that, it becomes a question mark."
The shortcomings are evident in a greedy financial class, financial manipulation of the political system and disparities of wealth, Brzezinski said.
The European Union could rank No. 2, except for its lack of political will supported by military power. Following it would be China, which, despite its infrastructural backwardness, Brzezinski said, has shown unprecedented innovation and transformation.
"(China) has the potential … to outstrip the United States if we don't improve our performance and if they do not falter," Brzezinski said. "Those are two major question marks."
Brzezinski said it's interesting to note that China is now talking about an "East Asia community," which could dramatically extend China's influence on the world and could match power of the European Union.
Back to the pecking order, Russia follows next, which, as a one-dimensional power, once held the United States under threat of nuclear war.
As national security adviser, Brzezinski said he had to be ready to advise the president within minutes of an attack, and, if needed, coordinate an attack that would have killed millions of Russians.
The final factor in defining today's world is that nearly all of humanity is politically active, aware and conscious, Brzezinski said, and thus can be galvanized to action, whether for productive change or terroristic agendas.
Within that framework, Brzezinski identified three main problems facing America: military involvement in the Middle East, slipping pre-eminence in Asia and the Far East, and a drifting apart from European countries due to differing ideas.
How America handles these global issues will shape the lives of the younger generation, Brzezinski said.
"Our grandchildren will have their lives determined by how well or badly we perform on the global scene," he said.
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