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Brzezinski’s Biggest Disaster: Camp David

On Tuesday’s “Morning Joe,” Zbigniew Brzezinski was eulogized by Jimmy Carter along with the MSNBC show co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — daughter of the former national security advisor.

The segment, of course, avoided issues that Brzezinski has been criticized for, see “How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen.” Though even the New York Times obit noted: “But in at least one respect — his rigid hatred of the Soviet Union — he had stood to the right of many Republicans, including Mr. Kissinger and President Richard M. Nixon. And during his four years under Mr. Carter, beginning in 1977, thwarting Soviet expansionism at any cost guided much of American foreign policy, for better or worse. He supported billions in military aid for Islamic militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan.”

The shadow cast by such policies quite arguably lead to the 9/11 attacks and a great deal of other pain and suffering in the Mideast and beyond.

Few have delved into the depths and aims of Brzezinski’s anti-Russian bias. He wrote in “A Geostrategy for Eurasia” in the journal Foreign Affairs (1997): “A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entities would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.”

Indeed, two main strains that we see in our current foreign policy owe a great deal to Brzezinski. One is a desire of much of U.S. establishment to further neuter — if not actually break up — Russia. The other — being employed in Syria now — is using militarized fanatics fighting in the name of Islam for foreign policy purposes.

What was highlighted by Carter and others after Brzezinski’s death was the “triumph” of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt.

And this is something that few question, though such praise leads to some wild statements, as in this MSNBC interview.

Joe Scarborough claimed: “Mr. President, I was talking to Mika’s daughters this weekend and trying to explain the impact that you all had on the world and talking about the Middle East. You hear about the Middle East peace. But you know, President Carter’s peace efforts between Israel and Egypt prevented a ground war in the Middle East for 40 years.”

Huh? Joe Scarborough is unaware of any ground wars in the Mideast over the last 40 years. He must have tuned out the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War, as well as the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Never mind the numerous Israeli invasions of Lebanon.

And it’s quite arguable that Camp David actually set the stage for all those things. As the late Eqbal Ahmad stated in 1990 (at an event I attended):

There has been nothing (that I have seen) in the media about what compels Saddam Hussein’s extraordinary ambitions. … What has suddenly in 1990 compelled his ambition, that requires 350,000 American troops to control? What did it?

No one has named the Camp David Accords. And Saddam Hussein’s ambitions are directly attributable to the Camp David Accords. I won’t go into details of it — just in two sentences, remember the following. Since the decline of the Ottoman Empire (in other words, since the beginning of the 19th Century) Egypt has played the role of the regional influential in the Arab World. Politically, culturally, even militarily, Egypt has led the Arab World (and ideologically). The Camp David Accords’ supreme achievement was to isolate Egypt from its Arab milieu.

When Anwar Sadat signed that piece of paper, his hope had been that this would lead to the return of Egyptian territory to Egypt. Occupied territories, one (which he did get). And two, a modicum of justice for the Palestinians. So that, over time his isolation will be ameliorated. And that minimum that was promised to Sadat in the Camp David Accords was not honored. In fact, the maximum was dishonored.

To remind you of one reality alone, Carter, and Saunders, and William B. Quandt — the three American negotiators from top to the bottom (with Carter at the top, Saunders in the middle, and Quandt at the bottom) — have testified and recorded in their books that in the last three days of the Camp David negotiations, the negotiations had broken down on one issue. And the issue was Sadat’s insistence that there should be written in the Camp David Accords that Israel will put up no more settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. And Begin would say, “I am willing to agree on it informally, but won’t do it in writing.” And Carter weighs in and says, “You must understand Begin’s difficult position. I give you guarantee that there will be no settlements. …

Now, obviously, Camp David meant moral, ideological, political isolation of Egypt from its Arab milieu. There would be a political vacuum in the Middle East after Camp David. And smaller players — like Syria and Iraq — would love, would aim at, would have the ambition, to fill that vacuum.

Similarly, the late Patrick Seale wrote in 2011 in “The future of the (de)stabilizing Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty“:

By removing Egypt — the strongest and most populous of the Arab countries — from the Arab line-up, the treaty ruled out any possibility of an Arab coalition that might have contained Israel or restrained its freedom of action. As Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan remarked at the time: “If a wheel is removed, the car will not run again.”

Western commentators routinely describe the treaty as a “pillar of regional stability,” a “keystone of Middle East diplomacy,” a “centerpiece of America’s diplomacy” in the Arab and Muslim world. This is certainly how Israel and its American friends have seen it.

But for most Arabs, it has been a disaster. Far from providing stability, it exposed them to Israeli power. Far from bringing peace, the treaty ensured an absence of peace, since a dominant Israel saw no need to compose or compromise with Syria or the Palestinians.

Instead, the treaty opened the way for Israeli invasions, occupations and massacres in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, for strikes against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear sites, for brazen threats against Iran, for the 44-year occupation of the West Bank and the cruel blockade of Gaza, and for the pursuit of a “Greater Israel” agenda by fanatical Jewish settlers and religious nationalists.

In turn, Arab dictators, invoking the challenge they faced from an aggressive and expansionist Israel, were able to justify the need to maintain tight control over their populations by means of harsh security measures.

All these factors deflated Arab Nationalism and ultimately opened the way for Saudi dominance of much of the region. This helped lead to the collapse of the three other major secular states in the region: Iraq, Syria and Libya. Egypt itself has been relegated to the role of puppet police state and may descend further given the current dynamics.

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Sam Husseini is founder of the website VotePact.org

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