BBG Watch History

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981, died on May 26, 2017 at age 89. One of the major American planners of the Cold War victory over the Soviet Union, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was initially only given a brief, five paragraph AP report on the Voice of America (VOA) English-language website after the news of his death was announced last Friday even though he played a significant role in U.S. foreign policy and world affairs and throughout his public life was a strong supporter of U.S. international broadcasting. Russia’s RT immediately posted a lengthy obituary, while BBC had a special interview about Dr. Brzezinski’s legacy with former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski.

In a 1989 Worldnet television program organized by the Voice of America (VOA) Polish Service and broadcast jointly by VOA Polish Service, Polish Television and Polish Radio, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski discussed historic political changes which were taking place at that time in Poland and throughout East and Central Europe.

The television and radio program on March 15, 1989 originated in a Worldnet studio in Washington. Worldnet was then the television service of the United States Information Agency (USIA) while the Voice of America was an administrative part of USIA.

In the 1989 Worldnet program, Dr. Brzezinski was being interviewed via a satellite link by radio and television journalists in Poland. At that time Poland was still under communist rule but was already transitioning toward democracy under pressure on the communist regime from the Solidarity free trade union movement.

In the video excerpt from the 1989 program shown here, Dr. Brzezinski said that he disagreed with the theory of convergence, promoted by some in the United States and in Western Europe. The supporters of this theory claimed that communism and capitalism would eventually each change and converge. Dr. Brzezinski said that communism was a failed system on its way out and talked about conditions for the eventual reunification of democratic Europe. The program was conducted entirely in Polish since Dr. Brzezinski was a fluent Polish speaker.

The segment of the interview on the convergence theory and the fall of communism has been translated into English.

Ted Lipien, VOA Polish Service Director: “Important changes took place in recent years in Poland and in Eastern Europe.
Reforms taking place are transforming basic political and economic structures.
Some believe long-term changes may result in relations between the Warsaw Pact and other nations outside of it.
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski will discuss today these historic changes.
Between 1977 and 1981, he was President Carter’s National Security Advisor.
He is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.”
Voice of Krzysztof Wojna, Polish Radio: “You are one of the authors of the very controversial convergence theory.
Many political experts believe that the theory is not yet fully formulated.
Do you share this view. If so, how would you expand this theory?”
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski: “Allow me to explain to the radio and TV audience what this theory is about.
Its basic premise is that in time communist systems and capitalist systems, or should we say from our point of view, democratic, will converge, and there will be some kind of basic coming together.
I never favored this theory. I was rather its critic.
In my opinion, this criticism is still valid.
In my view, what is happening right now in the communist block is the death of the communist doctrine, and in effect the fall of communist systems.
In some cases, this fall may be evolutionary.
There will be a transition to pluralistic-democratic systems.
Perhaps with some elements of social-democracy in the transition period.
But in some cases, in countries other than Poland and Hungary, the fall of communist systems may have elements of deeper political upheavals.”


The program, broadcast on March 15, 1989, lasted about 30 minutes.