David Rothkopf

A Time of Unprecedented Instability?

A conversation with Zbigniew Brzezinski on today's worldwide turmoil, overstating Iran's near-term nuclear threat, and why a return to global order may rest on the relationship between the United States and China.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter throughout his term of office, has remained one of the most prominent strategic thinkers in the United States throughout the ensuing three and a half decades. Recently, while talking with FP Group CEO and Editor David Rothkopf, he expressed a concern that we might be living in a period of unprecedented instability worldwide. When Rothkopf asked him to elaborate on the idea, he proposed that they discuss the subject. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.

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The Slaughter of Innocents

Why collateral damage undoes the best-laid plans of "limited" war makers.

Modern low-intensity conflicts are won and lost on their ragged edges. Nations act as though the careful plans of their militaries and intelligence operations can harness the chaos of combat and guide it to advance their interests. And then the unplanned happens, collateral damage occurs, and it has a bigger impact on politics and the position of combatants than all the calculated elements of the conflict added up.

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Therapy for the Self-Hating Superpower

Snap out of it, America. You're good enough, smart enough -- who cares if people don't like you?

America is in decline. America is broke. America is unwilling to lead. America has alienated the world. America is fat. America is addicted to sugar, reality television, and hearing itself speak.

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The Real Red Line in the Middle East

If ISIS attacks Jordan, neither the United States nor Israel will be able to stay out of the fray.

There is a Sarajevo somewhere in Jordan. It lies well outside Amman, somewhere in the hostile terrain to the east or the north. Were the armed ISIS extremists -- who now call themselves representatives of the Islamic State and soldiers of the new caliphate -- to cross this line, the current conflict that engulfs Syria and Iraq would likely explode and grow more complex and costly by quantum degrees. This is not the sort of red line that is the product of an ill-considered, halfhearted burst of presidential bravado. This is the type of red line that triggers historic change and is worth considering as we mark the epoch-making events in Sarajevo that spawned World War I 100 years ago.

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Through Syria, Darkly

Will Assad agree to a political solution? Can ISIS be defeated? A sobering report from the latest PeaceGame.

Peace will come to Syria slowly and only after much greater violence, participants predicted grimly at the second-ever PeaceGame, co-sponsored by Foreign Policy and the United States Institute of Peace in Abu Dhabi on June 18-19. In the meantime, given the protracted conflict's disastrous spread into Iraq, the most realistic positive developments may be limited to international cooperation to provide humanitarian relief and counter extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Despite an estimated 160,000 casualties since 2011 and at least 6.5 million people displaced from their homes, external intervention at a level sufficient to force the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table appear unlikely in the foreseeable future.  

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