Zbigniew Brzezinski 88.
(photo credit: )
A top official in the Carter administration on Tuesday suggested the United States was conducting negotiations on Iran's nuclear program in a way designed for failure, giving an opening for some political leaders, "echoed by some powerful lobbyists," to push for war with Iran.
The oblique lobbyist reference was combined with criticism of the national security policies of Israel and the US, which he likened to that of Iran.
"Each of these countries in different ways is not yielding in seeking maximum security for itself irrespective of the impact of that [on the] insecurity of others," former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said by way of explaining why Europeans listed Israel, Iran and the US as the world's most dangerous countries in a recent poll.
Giving a speech on "National Insecurity and Global Security," Brzezinski also questioned Israel's need for nuclear weapons and suggested that the country abandon its nukes to create a nuclear-free Middle East, in order to keep Iran from building its own nuclear arsenal.
"If Israel's nuclear arsenal, some 200 weapons, capable of destroying Iran if Iran were to attack Israel, is not a sufficient and credible deterrent, than what is it for? Against whom is it to be used, against someone who doesn't have nuclear weapons?" he asked the crowd at a Century Foundation/Center for American Progress conference. The latter is headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton.
Brzezinski acknowledged that "one can understand that people traumatized by the Holocaust would be concerned about security," but said Israel's policies created "a collision between the legitimately felt sense of national insecurity and the security of others."
In this view, he said, Israel supported the invasion of Iraq by the United States and now "doesn't hide" its desire for US action in Iran.
Brzezinski, whose address was greeted by rousing applause, also descried the "obscene rhetoric" and "insensitivity to history" exhibited by Iran and urged the Islamic republic to prove that it was only seeking that to which it was legally entitled - civilian nuclear power - and not nuclear weapons.
He suggested that the US take a different tack in negotiating over Iran's nuclear program, agreeing to abandon some of the sanctions it has slapped on the country were Iran to talk to America, rather that its current demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment before discussions begin.
"The United States is now negotiating with Iran in a manner which one perhaps might even suspect is designed to prevent a negotiated outcome, [requiring Iran] to make a priori concessions for the privilege of negotiating with the United States."
He continued that this allowed some politicians to press for an attack on Iran. He said Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), who this weekend made comments about the possibility of a US attack on Iran, "echoed by some powerful lobbyists, are actually at the moment pushing the military option."
Anti-Defamation League Director Abe Foxman took strong exception to Brzezinski's remarks.
"It's a biased perversion of reality," he said of the comparison made between Iranian and Israeli national security policies. "Iran is publicly and continuously threatening the annihilation of the state of Israel," while Israel has made no such threat.
He said that Brzezinski's references to Lieberman - a Jewish congressman - as opposed to Bush administration figures who have made similar remarks, "broadens the conspiratorial view of Israel and the Jews."