Contundentes declaraciones de Zbigniew Brzezinski, ex Asesorde de Política Exterior en la administración Carter, sobre la situación creada en el Medio Oriente con la política de Israel y los EUA contra Irán.
Zbigniew Brzezinski se desempeñó como Consejero para la Seguridad Nacional del presidente Jimmy Carter desde 1977 al 1981 y es considerado uno de los más preeminentes académicos en asuntos de política exterior de los EUA. Es actualmente profesor de Política Exterior Norteamericana en la Universidad Johns Hopkins y consejero en el Center for Strategic and International Studies en Washington, DC.
Transcribimos la entrevista realizada al señor Brzezinski hace apenas ocho días por Michael Knigge, periodista de la Deutche Welle, , por considerar que en ella se hace una exposición clara y mesurada del asunto iraní.
‘Our friends, like Germany, should not hide behind our back’
In a DW interview, former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski issues a stark warning about the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and urges Europeans to speak out on the issue.
Zbigniew Brzezinski served as National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 and is regarded as one of the preeminent US foreign policy scholars. He is currently professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University and counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
DW: After refusing International Atomic Energy Agency officials access to Iranian nuclear-related military facilties, Tehran has now called for more talks with the IAEA and warned of any provocation that could derail progress. What’s your interpretation of that move by Tehran?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: Tehran is not anxious to be in a position in which its eventual choices are capitulation or strangulation. The Iranians may want to explore perhaps some reasonable compromise, but not one based on a rather unilateral and one-sided outcome. So the problem persists and the issue posed by the eventual potential acquisition of a military nuclear capability is still a challenge to international stability.
The international sanctions against Iran are apparently biting, but also seem to have strengthened Tehran’s resolve to go ahead with its nuclear program.
I think the effectiveness of sanctions depends first of all on how much time they are given to be felt. Sanctions don’t have instant results. They create change in attitude perhaps over some time. Secondly, sanctions which seem to be giving Iran only a choice of capitulation or strangulation as I said earlier are likely to encourage Iranian defiance and also to create more internal political unity based on nationalism. Those elements in Iran that do not approve of the fanatical rule of the Ayatollahs do at the same time feel that Iran as a significant country is entitled to have an ambitious nuclear program, though not perhaps necessarily one that leads to the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Our policy therefore has to be therefore based on greater discrimination and not simply a combination of pressure plus military threats with ambiguous and in my judgment counterproductive formulas such as “all options are on the table.”
So what advice do you have for the international community, the US and Israel? They have imposed these sanctions and if you say the alternative for Iran is basically capitulation or strangulation what kind of third option could the world present to Tehran?
If necessary – and I regret that this may be necessary but it’s better than starting a war arbitrarily and capriciously and one-sidedly – the sanctions must continue to sting, but not go to the extreme that I have defined by the two words that you have repeated. And that in addition the United States makes it clear publicly, unambiguously and conclusively that it will view any Iranian threat directed at any of its Middle Eastern neighbors – either Arab or Israeli – as a threat directed against the United States. That is the situation that is currently preserving and for the last 30 or so years has preserved peace in the Far East insofar as South Korea and Japan is concerned, notwithstanding increasingly irrational and threatening North Korean moves which already included the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the means of delivery for them. Nonetheless the American guarantee has worked extremely well.
Moreover, since you are from Central Europe you surely recall that Europe was defended by a similar American commitment even though Soviet war plans called for example for the use on the third day of war of tactical nuclear weapons against Hamburg. And yet the threat deterred war. I see no reason whatsoever to think that this would not work with Iran whereas starting a war will produce consequences from which America will suffer, from which the international community and particular the international economy will suffer, in which the Middle East and Southwest Asia both are likely to become more destabilized – I have in mind Iraq and Afghanistan – and in which eventually in the longer run Israel itself will suffer.
Just to be clear, you think that the talk about all options being on the table and the threat especially by Israel, but also by the US is actually counterproductive?
Yes. I mean the only reason the Israelis are maybe making (the threat) is to get us involved because they know that military action will be more effective if we’re involved. But I think its effect will be very short lived and its negative consequences will be prolonged and painful.
But Israel has repeatedly and lately with rather tough rhetoric warned that it will take military action – even alone if required – to prevent Tehran from reaching what it calls the point of no return in terms of being able to build nuclear weapons.
Well, I don’t understand under what principle of international order a country which itself has nuclear weapons can categorically assert that some other country is not allowed to have a nuclear program unless the first country approves of it and if it doesn’t approve of it, it has a right to start a war in order to destroy it and then expects the rest of international community and in particular the US to support it. Even though the international community and the United States will suffer perhaps even bigger, more negative consequences than Israel is likely to suffer in the short run.
Next week President Obama will meet Prime Minister Netanyahu for consultations and Iran’s nuclear program of course will be a prominent issue. Do you think that Obama can persuade Netanyahu to hold off on his threat and convince Israel that time is not running out as Israel has indicated it believes?
Well, first of all Israel is not Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman (Israeli foreign minister – the ed.) and a few generals. Israel is a democracy. There are many Israelis, including former heads of the Mossad (Israel’s external security service – the ed.), Shin Beth (Israel’s internal security service – the ed.) and of the military who are totally in disagreement with such threats and such intentions. So that’s one point to remember.
Secondly, when the president meets with Netanyahu he should speak not only for America and its national interest, but he should also speak for the interests of our friends. Our friends, like Germany, should not hide behind our back. I think the Europeans have a big stake in this. The costs to the European economy at a minimum will be high. And the consequences of major regional unrest will have a variety of other even inherently unpredictable consequences. So I do not see why this should be only an American responsibility. But to the extent that of course we would be involved first of all, I think we have our own responsibility to articulate a position that’s compatible with our national interest.
So of the two worst-case scenarios, basically Iran becoming a nuclear power or Israel launching a military campaign unilaterally to destroy Tehran’s nuclear facilities, you would strongly argue that the latter is a bigger danger right now?
The latter that’s in motion has destructive and unpredictable consequences. The former can be contained, deterred and the perpetrator of the provocation – namely Iran – can be isolated. I think deterrence and isolation are a better solution than starting a war the end of which is very difficult to define, but the consequences of which are predictably going to be destructive.
In concrete terms, what could the West or the international community perhaps offer Iran to come to the table to seriously negotiate?
Well, I don’t want to be spelling out specific conditions, but I think some arrangement which is compatible with the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty – the ed.). There are various schemes discussed previously involving Turkey and Brazil or involving France at one time. I think there are ways of addressing this problem intelligently and at the same time giving Iran a choice which is more likely to result in a compromise than as I said at the very outset of our discussion strangulation or capitulation. I think that is not a good way to proceed. And the only alternative to that should not be starting a war which the country that starts cannot finish, but the rest of the international community will be saddled with consequences that are likely to be cumulatively destructive and eventually damaging to the country that starts the war.
So in case Israel were indeed to take military action against Iranian nuclear sites should the US or the international community then rally to Israel’s side?
I am not going to engage in hypothesis. I am perfectly willing to discuss policy implications and policy recommendations for a problem. But I think the important step right now is to be clear about the interests of the West and of the international community itself and what is involved. And I think if one makes that clear, intelligent people in Israel will also reassess what is in Israel’s interest. Right now it is quite noticeable that while Israeli public opinion is not thirsty for a war some Israeli leaders are simply quiet or intimidated and are watching to see how the rest of the world reacts. I think the rest of the world ought to react intelligently and with a sense of historical responsibility.
How concerned are you that an Israeli attack is on the cards in the next six months as has been publicly discussed repeatedly?
One cannot exclude it. But after all when you are talking about the next six months I am assuming that everyone will not be asleep in the meantime or silently scared, but will be making its collective interests publicly known and will not be shy in discussing this issue in a mature, responsible and determined fashion.
Finally, what then is your basic argument for Israel to convince them that this is not in their best interest either?
I don’t see why one really has to make a special effort on that issue because it is surely quite clear that a war in the Middle East is not conducive to greater stability in the region. And one has to ask oneself how can Israel thrive and become a successful part of that region if the region is pushed into becoming a zone of war.
Interview: Michael Knigge
Editor: Rob Mudge