Winter 2003 (11.4)
Honorary Doctorate Bestowed on Brzezinski
by Zbigniew Brzezinski
articles related to Zbigniew
published in Azerbaijan International:
Speaking: Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski - Betty Blair
- War On Terrorism: Failing to Grapple with the Political Dimension
- Zbigniew Brzezinski
Caucasus and New Geo-Political Realities: How the West Can Support
the Region - Zbigniew Brzezinski
Speaking: Russia's "Sphere of Influence" - Chechnya
and Beyond - Zbigniew Brzezinski
as Empire - Quote by Zbigniew Brzezinski
is Fragile - Quote by Zbigniew Brzezinski
On November 7, 2003, Zbigniew Brzezinski
(b. 1928) was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Baku State University.
Dr. Brzezinski is the former National Security Advisor to the
President of the United States (1977 to 1981).
He has authored numerous books including: "Out of Control:
Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century"; "The
Grand Failure: The Birth and Death of Communism in the 20th Century";
A Geostrategic Framework for the Conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Contest";
"Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Advisor,
1977-1981"; "The Fragile Blossom: Crisis and Change
in Japan"; "Between Two Ages: America's Role in the
Technetronic Era"; "The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict";
and "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic
Throughout his career, Dr. Brzezinski has been recognized internationally
for his work in geopolitics. In 1981, he was awarded the U.S.
Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in the normalization
of U.S.-Chinese relations and for his contribution to human rights
and national security. In 1995, Poland decorated him with the
Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration
for his contributions to Poland's recovery of its independence.
He has Honorary Doctorate degrees from Georgetown University,
Williams College, Fordham University, College of Holy Cross,
Alliance College, Catholic University of Dublin, and Warsaw University.
He also received the Centennial Medal of the Graduate School
of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University; the Hubert Humphrey
Award for Public Service from the American Political Science
Association; the U Thant award; as well as fellowships from the
Guggenheim Foundation, Ford Foundation and others. In 1969, he
was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Brzezinski currently is Counselor at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies (CSIS); and Professor of American Foreign
Policy at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS),
at Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.
The following article is an edited version of his speech at Baku
State University when receiving the Honorary Doctorate.
Below: On November 7, 2003, the Rector of
Baku State University, Abel Maharramov, (left) presented an Honorary
Doctorate to Zbigniew Brzezinski. Dr. Brzezinski, former National
Security Advisor to U.S. President Carter (1977 to 1981), has
written several books related to the geopolitics of the former
of all, let me say that it is a real honor and pleasure to receive
an Honorary Doctorate from Baku State University, Republic of
Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a country with profound intellectual
potential, great cultural achievements and a genuinely proud
history. Today, it is a remarkable opportunity for me to be here
and to be associated with you in such a symbolic way.
There is a personal sense of satisfaction in having been a witness
to your nation's emancipation and to the consolidation of your
independence in shaping your national destiny, which is now fully
in your hands. For all of you here, it is a time of national
renaissance. There is an element of ecstatic emancipation in
the sense of having obtained - regained - one's independence.
It is now a destiny of the future - fuller, more hopeful, more
There is also a risk, however, that for many young people, independence
is something that can be taken for granted. One should always
remember that independence is a condition that is derived from
one's own determination to be independent. And those who have
earned their freedom may be more conscious of it than those who
are born into freedom, who may be more inclined to think of independence
and freedom as the normal state of affairs. Unfortunately, the
world we live in is not like that, and there are very few countries
that are wholly secure in their independence. It is particularly
the younger people - members of the academic community - that
in the years to come will be shaping the destiny of this country.
One should always remember that this freedom depends upon the
genuine, enduring, deep, and uncompromising commitment to one's
Nature of the Soviet
I want to stress that I came to this part of the world many years
ago as a student of Harvard. I had been observing the Soviet
Union for many years and was convinced of two realities. Firstly,
that the Soviet Union was not a union, but rather an empire.
Secondly, that within that empire there were nations that wanted
to be independent. That realization convinced me that some day
the Soviet Union would come to an end, because within the Soviet
Union there were those who were determined that the end might
actually take place.
The end did happen - not because the Soviet Union was defeated
in the field of battle, but because it collapsed ideologically.
There were those who rejected it from within, not only for ideological
reasons, but also for deeply felt historical reasons. It is critically
important in nurturing a new country that awareness of this reality
be cultivated so that the nation can endure.
I want to take a few minutes of time to lay the basis for further
discussion and exchange of views. I want to speak about the Euro-Atlantic
First of all, we should begin by reminding ourselves that the
Euro-Atlantic community is not a narrow geographical concept,
but rather, it is broader and more elastic. It is a community
with shared values, subjective values - values that we believe
in. And the central value of this community is the primacy of
the individual as a key, sacred component of the human community
- the individual as the ultimate central focus of social and
political activity of the community.
Secondly, the Euro-Atlantic community is a consensus about social
and political procedures. The centrality of law, the objectivity
of law, and the subordination even of the state to the law is
the key principle. Everyone is equal before the law - from the
lowest citizen to the highest president. Everyone has to respect
the law, and the system of law has to be totally independent.
And thirdly, the Euro-Atlantic community is a manner of commitment
to the notion of political choice. That is to say, all individuals,
being equal before the law, have the freedom to choose the kind
of government that they desire and the kind of political programs
to be pursued.
That is what the Euro-Atlantic community is all about. And any
country that fits those criteria can become a member of it. It
is not a geographically, nor a culturally, limited entity. It
is a concept based upon how the human system ought to operate
and fulfill itself. Anyone can be a member of it.
Today's Euro-Atlantic community is simply the geographic core
in the historical realization of this concept, but it involves
a progressive expansion. The Euro-Atlantic community has been
expanding over the course of the last 10 years. It has been expanding
as individual countries consolidate their independence and create
strong, viable states, transforming their economies and increasing
their range of freedom for individual activity subject to law,
and as they democratize their political processes to make them
constitutional and to operate on the basis of freedom of choice.
Process Takes Time
In essence, every person knows that these three processes-consolidation
of independence, transformation of economy, and democratization
of politics - do not happen overnight. They are difficult and
slow processes. Some move ahead of others. We know from the American
experience, and it is useful to remind ourselves in America -
since we have a tendency to preach to others - that we did not
have full civil rights for all Americans until about 40 years
ago. A significant portion of the American public was, in fact,
excluded from the political process. Today, our Secretary of
State [Colin Powell] and National Security Advisor [Condoleezza
Rice] have come from a group within our society that was not
a full participant in the political process as recently as 40
years ago. This demonstrates how difficult and slow this process
is. Women - half of our population - did not even have the choice
of political freedom and political rights until 80 years ago.
They were not allowed to vote.
The key point is that there has to be progression and movement.
And it is not a hostile act when we notice that there is not
enough movement. And it is not a hostile act to encourage a more
rapid movement. But it is also important to bear in mind that
there are difficult stages, which may take place more rapidly
in the 21st century than in the 20th, and there were some which
took place faster in the 20th as compared to the 19th century.
Nonetheless, this process of change cannot easily be compressed
into a single act. It's a process that extends and stretches
through time. And in the former communist world, they did not
have even a simple "rule of thumb" to determine how
difficult and how long this process would be. But the longer
a country has been dominated by communist totalitarianism, the
more difficult and lengthy the process becomes. The shorter that
phase was, the more superficial it was, and the quicker the process
of change will be. It is not accidental that for some countries-in
Central Europe, for example-the progression has been much more
rapid and the changes which have taken place have come to be
viewed as much more natural, while many post-Soviet nations still
struggle to implement them.
Further enlargement of Europe is quintessential for the future
of both the Euro-Atlantic community and those aspiring for membership.
The Vilnius [Lithuania] round involved seven countries, and Warsaw
[Poland] round involved three. Now the next round of discussions
that will take place may be termed as the "Kiev [Ukraine]
And then the question arises: how many countries might this union
include, and which countries might they be? Obviously, one would
ask the question about the Caucasus - specifically Azerbaijan
and Georgia. If the Kiev round opens the doors to Ukraine, an
important precedent will have been established. This precedent
would certainly be applicable to other countries. And the other
important question relates to the further integration of Turkey
into the Euro-Atlantic community - because the Euro-Atlantic
community, even if it is a community of values, institutionally
has two legs: not only the EU, but also NATO.
As a strategist, when I think of the future, I certainly expect
that Azerbaijan will become part of that union. The Euro-Atlantic
community is not a philanthropy, but a joint union of obligations
and responsibilities. And I wish you well in this process.
Search at AZER.com for articles
by and about Brzezinski that have appeared in Azerbaijan International:
"Geopolitically Speaking: Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski"
by Betty Blair, AI 3.4 (Winter 1995); "The Caucasus and
New Geopolitical Realities: How the West Can Support the Region,"
AI 5.2 (Summer 1997); "Geopolitically Speaking: Russia's
'Sphere of Influence' - Chechnya and Beyond," AI 8.1 (Spring
2000); and War On Terrorism: Failing to Grapple with the Political
Dimension, AI 10.3 (Autumn 2002).
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