Title page for ETD etd-04252012-175722

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author White Jr, John Bernell
Author's Email Address jbwhitejr@gmail.com
URN etd-04252012-175722
Title The Strategic Mind of Zbigniew Brzezinski: How a Native Pole Used Afghanistan to Protect His Homeland
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department Liberal Arts (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Clark, William A. Committee Chair
Hilton, Stanley E. Committee Member
Roider, Karl A. Committee Member
  • Cold War
  • Peaceful Engagement
  • Walt Slocombe
  • Robert Gates
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Afghanistan
  • Poland
  • Solidarity
  • Mujahideen
  • Soviet Union
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Le Nouvel Observateur
  • Kuklinski
Date of Defense 2012-04-18
Availability unrestricted
Many years after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Gates revealed several formerly classified details regarding the Carter Administration’s pre-invasion aid to the Mujahideen resistance fighters. Unwittingly, these separate yet interconnected disclosures from Brzezinski and Gates gave the appearance that the White House had intentionally lured the USSR into an insurgent-infested trap in Afghanistan designed to give Moscow its own Vietnam War. Brzezinski, being in a much higher position within the administration than Gates and coming forth with the most provocative revelations, was subsequently accused by many of essentially instigating a war all by himself. But although Brzezinski had hoped that the Soviets would get bogged down in a “Vietnamese quagmire” in Afghanistan if they decided to intervene, he did not attempt to lure the Russians into a trap. The covert aid to the Mujahideen was carried out to trap Moscow only if it continued to act aggressively in the Third World.

In addition to Brzezinski’s need to limit the Soviet Union’s capability to project strength in the Third World, he admitted to this author that he had other strategic and personal reasons for aiding the Mujahideen. Months before President Carter signed the covert aid directive on July 3, 1979, Brzezinski had begun to receive quite explicit information from CIA assets in his native Poland that the situation there was on the verge of an explosion. These developments prompted him to turn his thoughts toward both crises simultaneously, with the ultimate goal to develop a strategy that would protect his homeland at all costs. In the final analysis, Brzezinski was correct in his assessment that aiding the Mujahideen and turning up the heat on the Soviets in Afghanistan would later prevent the Kremlin from sending its troops into Poland in order to squelch the burgeoning labor movement known as Solidarity.

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