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.
Democracy is capable of responding provided we focus on the right aims. The question today is whether democracies can thrive with financial systems that are out of control, that are capable of generating selfishly beneficial consequences only for the few, without any effective framework that gives us a larger, more ambitious sense of purpose. That is the real problem.
There is today a very dangerous imbalance between the lack of budgetary discipline, the commitment to austerity, the determination to keep inflation under control, and to maintain a costly social policy on the one hand — all, on the other hand, without any larger conception about which direction our societies as a whole should be heading.
Gardels: The rest of the West is also mired in paralysis. Europe has turned even further inward with the euro crisis as it decides whether to go all the way back to the nation-state or forward to full political union.
What is the solution for Europe?
Brzezinski: I believe that, in the end, the resolution to today’s crisis in Europe won’t work out that badly. The essential political leadership in Europe – the Germans and the French mainly, along with some others – are demonstrating a sense of responsibility for the future of Europe. They are increasingly determined to shape a political framework which will supplant what Europe has been lately, namely a financial union for some and a politically loose community for all. Inevitably, a genuine political union will take shape in stages and steps, probably beginning through a de facto treaty reached by inter-governmental agreement in the near future.