When Madeleine Albright took over the State Department from Warren Christopher in early 1997, her promotion was presented to the public more as a personal success for a woman than as a corporate success for a policy design. At its most informative, The New York Times, mentioned influential policy-makers as if they were benevolent uncles ready to give encouragement to a lady. Three months after she took office, it was reported: "Ms. Albright has reached out for advice. She has talked with Zbigniew Brzezinski; the departing president of the Carnegie Endowment, Morton Abramowitz; the philanthropist George Soros; and Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations."
If Abramowitz may be considered the éminence grise behind the whole "humanitarian intervention" policy, Brzezinski provided a geostrategic rationale. Brzezinski has no inhibitions about using high principles in the power game. In Paris in January 1998 to promote the French edition of his book, The Grand Chessboard, he was asked about an apparent "paradox" between the fact that his book was steeped in Realpolitik, whereas, in his days as National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Brzezinski had been the "defender of human rights".
Brzezinski waved the paradox aside. There is none, he replied. "I elaborated that doctrine in agreement with President Carter, as it was the best way to destabilize the Soviet Union. And it worked".
Of course, it took more than nice words about human rights to destabilize the Soviet Union. It took war. And Brzezinski was very active on that front. As he told a second French weekly during his book promotion tour, the CIA had begun bank-rolling counter- revolutionary Afghan forces in mid-1979, half a year before the Soviet Union moved into Afghanistan on a "stabilizing" mission around New Year's Day 1980. "We did not push the Russians into intervening, but we knowingly increased the possibility that they would. That secret operation was an excellent idea. The effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap."
Brzezinski rightly felt he could be forthright about such matters as humanitarian entrapment in Paris, where the policy elite admires nothing so much in American leaders as unabashed cynical power politics. This admiration is most acute when the French are offered a share in it, as was the case with Brzezinski and his book. France, wrote Brzezinski, "is an essential partner in the important task of permanently locking a democratic Germany into Europe", which means preventing Germany from building its own separate sphere of influence to the East, possibly including Russia -- a connection that Brzezinski's policy recommendations are designed to forestall at all costs. "This is the historic role of the Franco-German relationship, and the expansion of both the EU and NATO eastward should enhance the importance of that relationship as Europe's inner core. Finally, France is not strong enough either to obstruct America on the geostrategic fundamentals of America's European policy or to become by itself a leader of Europe as such. Hence, its peculiarities and even its tantrums can be tolerated".
These assurances may contribute to explaining the mystery -- as it was widely perceived in other countries -- of France's strong support to NATO's Kosovo war, second only to Britain and in disharmony with reactions in Germany and Italy. That is, the French elite had been given to understand this war as part of the Brzezinski design for a transatlantic Europe giving France a politico-military leadership role offsetting Germany's economic predominance.
Brzezinski frankly sets the goal for U.S. policy: "to perpetuate America's own dominant position for at least a generation and preferably longer still". This involves creating a "geopolitical framework" around NATO that will initially include Ukraine and exclude Russia. This will establish the geostrategic basis for controlling conflict in what Brzezinski calls "the Eurasian Balkans", the huge area between the Eastern shore of the Black Sea to China, which includes the Caspian Sea and its petroleum resources, a top priority for U.S. foreign policy. In the policy elites of both Britain and France, perpetuation of Trans-Atlantic domination could be understood as a way of preventing a Russo-German rapprochement able to dominate the continent.
Along with Jeane Kirkpatrick, Frank Carlucci, William Odom and Stephan Solarz, Brzezinski has joined the anti-Serb crusade in yet another new Washington policy shop, the "Balkan Action Council", calling for all-out war against Yugoslavia over Kosovo.
In the Brzezinski scheme of things, Yugoslavia is a testing ground and a metaphor for the Soviet Union. In this metaphor, "Serbia" is Russia, and Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc., are Ukraine, the Baltic States, Georgia and the former Soviet Republics of "the Eurasian Balkans". This being the case, the successful secession of Croatia and company from Yugoslavia sets a positive precedent for maintaining the independence of Ukraine and its progressive inclusion in the European Union and NATO, which he sets for the decade 2005-2015 as a "reasonable time frame".
The little Balkan "Balkans" appear on a map on page 22 of The Grand Chessboard interestingly shaded in three gradations representing U.S. geopolitical preponderance (dark), U.S. political influence (medium) and the apparent absence of either (white). Darkly shaded (like the U.S., Canada and Western Europe) are Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Medium shading covers Slovakia, Moldavia and Ukraine as well as Georgia and most of the "Eurasian Balkans". Glaringly white, like Russia, are Yugoslavia and Greece. For Brzezinski, Belgrade was a potential relay for Moscow. Serbs might be unaware of this, but in the geostrategic view, they were only so many surrogate Russians.