The U.S. Institute of Peace joins those mourning the loss of Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter who went on to influence American foreign policy thinking for decades afterwards as a thinker, speaker, lecturer and prolific writer. The institute and its audiences benefitted from Mr. Brzezinski’s insights on a number of occasions over decades as he lent his expertise and experience to working groups or other major national security discussions.
Most recently, Mr. Brzezinski was among 80 officials of incoming, outgoing and previous administrations who held discussions at USIP in January to open the Passing the Baton 2017 conference, marking the national security transition from President Barack Obama to President-elect Donald Trump. Mr. Brzezinski also addressed USIP’s 2009 Passing the Baton conference on issues facing the Obama administration as it took over from President George W. Bush.
In March 2012, Mr. Brzezinski contributed his perspective to USIP’s event “The Week That Changed The World,” marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China by examining the future of U.S.-China relations. Mr. Brzezinski had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 for his role in the normalization of U.S.-China relations and for his contributions to the human rights and national security policies of the United States.
Mr. Brzezinski served in 1997 on USIP’s European Security Working Group to discuss the implications of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's commitment to enlarge the alliance at the July 1997 Summit in Madrid.
“We are sad to lose such an energetic thinker who contributed to our national security to the very end, and we celebrate a life well-lived,” USIP President Nancy Lindborg said. “The institute is grateful for his invaluable participation in critical discussions at USIP, including in our Passing the Baton events. We will greatly miss him.”
In the closing session of the November 2011 USIP event on “Twenty Years After Madrid,” a reference to the 1991 Arab-Israeli peace conference, Mr. Brzezinski and another former national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, discussed the challenges to U.S. foreign policy in addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict and their views of the road ahead. Mr. Hadley was a senior advisor at USIP at the time and now serves as chairman of its board of directors.
"Zbig educated and inspired a whole generation of national security and foreign policy professionals,” Hadley said this week. “He taught us that sound strategy requires understanding the history, sharpening the analysis and being grounded firmly in American values. We will all miss him."