Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped topple economic barriers between the Soviet Union, China and the West as President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, died Friday. He was 89.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jimmy Carter had been impressed with the views of foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski well before he won the presidency in 1980. That he immediately liked the Polish-born academic advising his campaign was a plus.
“He was inquisitive, innovative and a natural choice as my national security adviser when I became president,” Carter said in a statement following Brzezinski’s death Friday.
“He helped me set vital foreign policy goals, was a source of stimulation for the departments of defense and state, and everyone valued his opinion,” Carter said. “He played an essential role in all the key foreign policy events of my administration.”
Earnest and ambitious, Brzezinski helped Carter bridge wide gaps between the rigid Egyptian and Israeli leaders, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, leading to the Camp David accords in September 1978. Three months later, U.S.-China relations were normalized, a top priority for Brzezinski. He also had a hand in two other controversial agreements: the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty with the Soviet Union and the Panama Canal treaties ceding U.S. control of the waterway.
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“He was brilliant, dedicated and loyal,” said Carter, who awarded Brzezinski the Presidential Medal of Freedom days before leaving office in 1981.
Brzezinski’s death at age 89 was announced on social media Friday night by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. She called him “the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have.” Also surviving Brzezinski were his wife, Emilie, and their sons Ian and Mark.
Born in Warsaw and educated in Canada and the United States, Brzezinski was an acknowledged expert in Communism when he attracted the attention of U.S. policymakers. In the 1960s he was an adviser to John F. Kennedy, served in the Johnson administration and advised Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign. He was the first director of the Trilateral Commission, an international discussion group, serving from 1973 to 1976.
In December 1976, Carter offered Brzezinski the position of national security adviser. Brzezinski had not wanted to be secretary of state because he felt he could be more effective working at…