Former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who established himself in the Carter administration as a hard-liner on foreign policy, died on Friday, his family said. He was 89. Brzezinski’s daughter Mika said on social media that her father died peacefully, but did not give the cause of his death.
Brzezinski, the son of a Polish diplomat, was national security adviser for all four years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. He helped Carter contend with several international issues including the Iranian revolution that overthrew the Shah, the taking of 52 Americans as hostages in Tehran and a failed rescue mission, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
As national security adviser, Brzezinski, who Carter plucked from the academic world, saw many of the Soviet Union’s foreign policy moves as evidence it could not be trusted.That placed him at odds with two of Carter’s most trusted advisers: Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who pushed for a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT-2) with Moscow, and Defense Secretary Harold Brown, who urged a U.S.-Soviet accord to curb conventional forces in Europe.
When Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Brzezinski strongly backed the arming of Afghan rebels in response to the invasion. His hardline stance on U.S.-Soviet relations led Pravda, the Soviet Communist Party newspaper, to denounce him as a “foe of detente”.
And while he was skeptical of Soviet motives and objectives, Brzezinski nurtured a diplomatic friendship between the United States and China, which culminated in a trip to Beijing in June 1978. Six months later Carter announced a decision to re-establish diplomatic ties with China starting in 1979.
Brzezinski’s view of the Soviet Union may have been colored by his childhood experiences. Born in Warsaw, Poland, on March 28, 1928, he was taken as a youngster to Canada where his father served as a diplomat. When the communists took over Poland at the end of World War II, the family remained in the West.
After the Carter years, Brzezinski became a consultant on international affairs and a senior adviser for the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He also taught American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University. He frequently wrote opinion articles for newspapers and published several books, including “Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power” in 2012.