Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter, graded Obama’s foreign policy performance “somewhere between B-plus and A-minus,” lauding his achievements with Chinese and Russian relations but criticizing his failure to move forward on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“It would be higher if he had moved more decisively on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because he had a chance to do so. But admittedly, he was overwhelmed by domestic problems,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
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Brzezinski's comments come as Republican Mitt Romney has made reference to Jimmy Carter's one-term presidency several times in recent weeks, trying to to draw parallels to the Obama administration.
Brzezinski said Obama had achieved much with his foreign policy, including “a reconnection with Europe,” “a more stable relationship with Russia,” and the draw-down in Afghanistan.
He also said that he feels the Obama administration handled the situation with Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen well. Chen was recently granted permission by the U.S. and China to apply for a fellowship in America, after escaping house arrest and seeking asylum at the United States embassy. The incident threatened to cast a pall over the recent visit of high-ranking U.S. officials to Beijing for diplomatic talks, but both governments were able to ultimately come to an agreement on Chen.
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“All in all, I think both sides, the Chinese and us, handled it reasonably well,” Brzezinski said.
“The whole thing underlines the importance of the delicate nature of this relationship, and how both of us have to handle it with real strategic vision,” he added, noting that the incident illuminated what he called “the central issue of our time.”
“Can, for the first time in history, two preeminent powers effectively coexist and even collaborate?” Brzezinski wondered.
Brzezinski also cautioned that the most pressing national security issue is Iran, and how to prevent a conflict from breaking out in the Middle East.
“We have to do everything we can to avoid a war, and there are ways of avoiding that war that are intelligent and constructive. But a war sets in motion unpredictable consequences,” he said.
“A war with Iran will set ablaze a region of the world from which we're trying to disengage.”
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