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Brzezinski: Can democracies thrive with financial systems that are out of control?

In an interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of America’s leading strategists, discusses shifting global power, looking at China, Europe, Turkey, Russia, the US, and the Arab Spring.

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Zbigniew Brzezinski at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington. Dr. Brzezinsky served as White House National Security Advisor and currently is counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor/File

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Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of America’s leading strategists, was national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter. His just published book is “Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.” He spoke on Friday with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels.

Nathan Gardels: The core of your strategic vision for the future is of a “larger West” comprised of democratic powers that accommodates China. Yet the West, starting with the US, is in a period of political decay.

As you have noted, while China focuses on the long term and plots out its future, the US in particular is beset with a short-term mentality. In effect, we are no longer an “industrial democracy” in the strict sense, but a “consumer democracy” where all the feedback signals – the market, the media, and politics – are short-term and geared to immediate gratification.

Doesn’t that give China the competitive advantage of political capacity in the times ahead?

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Obviously so.

Gardels: How can America’s short-term mentality be changed? Are the West’s political institutions up to the challenge?

Brzezinski: Yes, if we develop a more effective and longer-range response to the current crisis instead of simply wallowing in the present difficulties – which is likely to further produce the same negative effects that got us into this mess. We are so preoccupied with the current crisis and so lacking in a longer-term perspective that we have no strategic vision which would give us some sense of historical momentum.

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