POWER AND PRINCIPLE: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981 by Zbigniew Brzezinski
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POWER AND PRINCIPLE: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981

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Insider detail and in-fighting, along Califano (Governing America) lines. Brzezinski, director of the Trilateral Commission, had recruited Gov. Carter to it and had thrown in with candidate Carter early; so it was natural for Pres.-elect Carter to seek his advice on foreign-policy appointments. Knowing Carter's limited background and strong aspirations, Brzezinski recommended the experienced, careful Cyrus Vance for Secretary of State--a choice that would necessitate a ""conceptualizer"" (like Brzezinski) for National Security Adviser. The White House, in any case, was where he knew the action would be. Brzezinski's main concern was to challenge the Soviets on every front--politically, militarily, culturally, economically--in every place. Though he claims some successes with rightist regimes on human rights, he readily cut back (in Brazil, Iran) to buttress strategic interests. Here--as in much else--his antagonist was Vance; and, more fitfully, Vice-Pres. Mondale. While Vance was edgily negotiating the SALT II agreements, Brzezinski was pushing the MX missile, which violates the spirit by avoiding the letter of SALT, and the China ""card."" Even more than his trip to China, Brzezinski enjoyed the startled look on Ambassador Dobrynin's face when he heard that full-scale diplomatic relations with China were in the offing. As dÉtente collapsed, Brzezinski's star rose: in the administration's first two years, the emphasis had been on ""global"" concerns; now the stress should be on strategic concerns. At the Camp David negotiations, his role was secondary; and he gives the credit to Carter and Vance. But his account of the proceedings dwells more than Carter's on the emotional ups-and-downs (and also notes Carter's toughness with Begin). Otherwise, Brzezinski has no praise for Vance. Depicting Vance as the representative of a declining WASP Élite, Brzezinski stores him for mishandling the crisis over Soviet soldiers in Cuba: Vance talked tough in public and softly in private, instead of the other way around. Brzezinski also wanted Carter to emphasize Soviet global aggressiveness and deemphasize the brigade in Cuba--and when Carter called the brigade a threat but did nothing about it, Brzezinski says he considered resigning. The biggest flap, however, was over Iran--where Brzezinski favored a military coup and bitterly opposed the State Department view that the Shah was doomed and the revolution might have a democratizing result. His main allies throughout were Harold Brown and Rosalynn Carter (probably the most important), and he seems to have genuinely liked his boss. Brzezinski doesn't have Kissinger's style or reach--but his memoirs tell a lot about how Carter's foreign policy was conducted.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1983
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux