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Glued to the Tube for Zbig: A Fantasy of a Hearing the Democrats Should Convene

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My preoccupation for two years has been on how to wrest power from the Bushites and to cast the forces behind this administration into the disgrace they so richly deserve. My preoccupation since Election Day has been how the powers newly vested in the congressional Democrats might best be used for that purpose.

It is in the context of that preoccupation that I've entertained the enjoyable fantasy of the American public being glued to their TV sets for the dramatic testimony of Zbigniew Brzezinksi, before some Senate committee, to explain to America just how profound has been the damage to the American position in the world inflicted by the recklessness and incompetence of the Bush administration.

As for just what is the overall concept behind these particular Senate hearings, and as for just how the moment of Brzezinki's appearance gains the prominence to draw millions of Americans to their TV sets --like with the Army-McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, or the Watergate hearings of the 1970s-- well, I haven't figured that out.

But in the meanwhile, join me in the fantasy.


Dr. Brzezinski may be the ideal person to delineate the grim picture the American people need to see. For starters, he is exceptionally articulate; he's one of those people whose speaks prose of exemplary lucidity.

Another of his strengths is that --to a degree unusual among American foreign policy experts-- he has a firm grasp of the Big Picture; he sees the strategic chessboard entire, and can explain how blunders in one place can impact scenarios elsewhere, and how a disaster in the present will likely ramify in the years, and perhaps decades, to come.

Brzezinski's credibility with the American people would likely be enhanced by the fact that he is not a reflexive dove. Dr. Brzezinski --born in Poland, the son of a Polish diplomat who was assigned to Canada before his country was overrun by the Nazis-- formed his worldview in the context of the Cold War. While not an unremitting hawk, Brzezinski has long recognized the hard-ball dimension of international affairs as vital. When he was President Carter's National Security Advisor, he was clearly the more hawkish voice within that administration in its conduct of foreign affairs.

Thus, when Brzezinski argued strenuously against the coming Bushite invasion of Iraq in late 2002 and early 2003, his critique had a credibility that those who invariably oppose the American use of force cannot match.

And his critique of the Bushite venture in Iraq has continued in the years since the invasion. Thus, Brzezinski has standing both as a hawk and a dove. He's been the enemy of Bushite folly and imperialism, but --as a patriot with a strong belief in the importance of American leadership in the world-- he can hardly be written off as in the least measure anti-American.

For all these reasons, he's a good person to lay out before the American people just what kind of disaster this Bushite imperial clique has wrought upon America's standing in the world, and what kinds of costs all of us Americans are likely to pay for the hubris and blundering of the Bushites for years to come.


The main part of the testimony, of course, would be about Iraq. Besides the various mistakes that have been made in executing the plan to dominate and transform Iraq, the American people should be helped to understand just what kind of thinking --unworthy of American ideals, unfitted to the realities of the world-- underlay the whole concept of the Iraq venture. Zbig can do that.

He can also explain how the miscalculations of the Bushites have strengthened our enemies, particularly Iran.

He can talk, too, from long experience, of the importance of the trust and goodwill toward America --built up over generations-- that these Bushites have squandered. And he can lay out some of the ways that this terrible damage to our national reputation will diminish the ability of future American leaders to create the kind of global environment that best serves our interests and values.

Besides Iraq, Dr. Brzezinski can explain how thoroughly the Bushites have botched the difficult challenge on the Korean peninsula. He can explain how the arrogance of the Bushites has led to about as bad an unfolding of events there as could be imagined, short of war-- starting with the very beginning of the administration when Bush and Rumsfeld cut off Secretary of State Powell at the knees for his suggesting to the press that the new administration would be continuing the dialogue with the North Koreans begun by their predecessors.

I would be especially interested to hear Zbig --whose career began with a speciality in the study of the Soviet Union and of the Eastern European nations absorbed into the Soviet Empire-- talk about the Bushite handling of the relationship with Russia.

One of the great American achievements of the two generations after World War II, after all (though it was not only an American achievement), was the emergence, out of the bloodless conclusion of the Cold War, of a democratic polity in Russia. In the first four years of the Bush administration, this achievement, too, was squandered, as President Putin steadily destroyed the institutions of liberal democracy and reconstructed a Russian autocratic state.

The disgrace is not just that this happened --it is not self-evident how much any American policy might have averted this profoundly regrettable outcome-- but also and especially that the Bush administration did not even deign to object to Putin's throttling of the new Russian democracy. (Only later, when the Russians crossed the Bushites on some matter of policy, did that great democrat, Dick Cheney, criticize the Russian return to autocracy.)

I'd love to hear what Zbig would say about what George W. Bush might have seen that time he peered into Putin's eyes and saw a kindred soul-- since, after all, Bush has been dragging America in the same illiberal, authoritarian direction that Putin has taken Russia.

Probably no one in the world could explain so clearly and eloquently as Dr. Brzezinski the larger picture of how American interests, American values, American reputation and prestige, American leadership have been damaged by how the Bushites have conducted American policy over these last six years.

I sure hope the Democrats find a fitting way to bring him in front of the TV cameras to delineate the whole complex, grim picture. And I hope the American people --offered such a crucial tutorial-- would be glued to their TV screens, by the millions, to learn how ill they have been served.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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