The Barack Obama campaign won an endorsement that sounds more like a kiss of death to anyone who survived the Jimmy Carter era. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who oversaw the disastrous foreign policy of the Carter administration, picked Obama to be the next Carter:
Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the most influential foreign-policy experts in the Democratic Party, threw his support behind Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, saying the Illinois senator has a better global grasp than his chief rival, Hillary Clinton.
Obama ``recognizes that the challenge is a new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America's role in the world,'' Brzezinski said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt.''
``Obama is clearly more effective and has the upper hand,'' Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, said. ``He has a sense of what is historically relevant, and what is needed from the United States in relationship to the world.''
Brzezinski, 79, dismissed the notion that Clinton, 59, a New York senator and the wife of former President Bill Clinton, is more seasoned than Obama, 46. ``Being a former first lady doesn't prepare you to be president,'' Brzezinski said.
Zbig wants to make this too easy. If serving as a former First Lady doesn't prepare one for the Presidency, how does seven years in a state legislature and barely two in the Senate do it? At least Clinton has four times as much experience in national office than Obama, and she's had to win two somewhat competitive elections, rather than walkovers like the one Obama had against Alan Keyes. If Zbig wanted preparation, wouldn't he endorse Bill Richardson?
This kind of silliness shouldn't surprise anyone who recalls the fecklessness of Carter's foreign policy. Brzezinski's advice led in part to one of the worst periods of retreat of American influence in the last century. The refusal to support the Shah led to the coup in Iran that gave the radical-Islamist movement its first big victory and validation -- and allowed state-supported terrorism to flourish. Brzezinski gets credit for pushing for a military operation to free the embassy hostages after Carter let them sit in Teheran for five months, but the operation was an unmitigated disaster -- poorly planned and resourced.
Carter also managed to help create our other major foreign-policy headache, too. He famously bussed Soviet premiere Leonid Brezhnev on the cheek and assured the Soviets that we would not act confrontationally, pretending that the Cold War didn't exist. The Soviets responded by invading Afghanistan, secure in the knowledge that Carter would not take action to stop them -- especially given his flabby response to the Iranian embassy sacking. That led to the creation of the mujaheddin, which the West supported against the Soviet occupation, and that led to the Taliban takeover after the Soviet withdrawal.
How much did Zbig have to do with our feckless foreign policy regarding the Soviets? He was more of a hawk than Cyrus Vance, but then again, almost everyone was more of a hawk than Vance, except Jimmy Carter. He never bothered to resign in the face of disaster after disaster, and he was the man who created the mujaheddin counterstrategy in Afghanistan, and Zbig drafted Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to support them.
Maybe Barack Obama can get Carter's economic adviser, Charles Schultze, to endorse him as well. That way he can campaign clearly on a return to Carter's policies.