Brzezinski: Can democracies thrive with financial systems that are out of control?
In an interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of America’s leading strategists, discusses shifting global power, looking at China, Europe, Turkey, Russia, the US, and the Arab Spring.
(Page 3 of 3)
Gardels: The Chinese leadership has shifted in recent years from the defensive posture of “peaceful rise” to Party theorist Zheng Bijian’s new theme of engagement: “build on a convergence of interests to create a community of interests.”Skip to next paragraph
Gallery Monitor Political Cartoons
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Yet, China is still hesitant to assert a global leadership role, even though it is the world’s largest creditor.
If we are “present at the creation” of a post-American order, what ought to be China’s strategic role and responsibilities?
Brzezinski: Zheng is refining his idea of “convergence of interests” in conversations with Henry Kissinger, myself, and others. It is a process. It is a sign that the Chinese are serious in seeking a role to play without hegemonic ambitions – at the moment. Whether they seek hegemony in the future depends on whether we in the West create circumstances in which a convergence of interests becomes attainable for them, or whether accommodation with others instead of us becomes a necessity for their national interests.
Two years ago when I gave a speech in China saying that the US and China should have an informal G2 relationship, I was applauded and there was enthusiasm. Within a year or so voices emerged that said, “Wait, this is trap” to force China the share the costs of global stability on Western terms since the West itself can no longer afford to pay.
So, China has to decide which role they want to play. With status comes responsibility and obligation. I think they understand that; they just want a key voice in the new order for which they must share responsibility.
For them, this is unprecedented. In the past, their realm of influence has been self-contained. Now it has expanded.
Gardels: The eruption of democracy across the Arab world has meant the resurgence of long-suppressed Islamist parties.
How should the West respond to this development? To the extent that Turkey is a template for how Islamist parties can fit within a secular democratic framework – as Prime Minister Erdogan himself recently argued in a speech in Cairo – should the West support rather than oppose this approach?
Brzezinski: I am very much in favor of drawing Turkey as close to, or as much into, the West as possible. Without doubt, it is America’s best ally in the Middle East.
But Turkey right now is not a template for new Arab democracies because there are no new Arab democracies.
We shouldn’t confuse the political awakening in several Arab countries, which has produced very active populist movements, with the actual appearance of democracy.
What is happening there may lead to democracy, but it may also lead to populist dictatorship. Turkey is, of course, an example of how Islam and secular democracy are compatible, but so far there is no viable imitation in the Arab world.