Monday, May 29, 2017

Zgibniew Brzezinski's passing (may he RIP; most sincere condolences to his family and friends)

"In his scholarly certitude, Mr. Brezinski sometimes showed a tendency to
believe that any disagreement between theory and reality indicated some fault on the
part of reality. "-- New York Times.

From a slightly edited Facebook entry:

Unfair (?) image of pan Brzezinski from 

John Brown Anecdote time: A modest contribution to the life of an admirable and highly intellectual, but (nobody's perfect) man, Zgibniew Brzezinski 

I remember, while privileged to serve as a U.S. dip in the enchanting and cultivated city of Krakow, Poland's "intellectual capital," the visit of pan Brzezinski in the late 1980s in that country, the heart of Europe, to some its geographical/civilizational center even before the liberating Solidarity times (fyi, I just consulted the internet 
on the proper capitalisation of "pan," so that I may be absolved of ignorance by Polish friends.)  

There was talk (loose) in late-80s-Poland, to repeat when I lived there, of ZB running for president (of Poland). He appeared on Polish TV, speaking admirable Polish, so far as I could tell as a non-native speaker. He was a true Pan (here I capitalize) -- Sir --, polite, aristocratic but not snobby, considerate yet publicly "honest," in a word, above all a very gentle, almost delicate, Gentleman, but not afraid to speak his mind in the most polite, non-condescending way. A real, refreshing contrast to apparatchiki in the Polish "government."

I thought while watching Polish TV (by then not so state-controlled) with pan Brzezinski "on" in the late 80s -- "His manners (morals) ... do they quite match his Harvard 'trained' intellect?" (Just ask Henry the K, who should know.)

How different Dr. Brezinski's words in Poland sounded (and demeanor seemed) to my non-Polish (or, maybe, after years in Krakow, slightly Polish) ears (and eyes) from the oh-so-tough, aggressive, take-no-prisoners National Security Advisor "NSA Zbig" sharply expounding on his jaw-breaking "strategic" categories while pontificating (without a smile) in Washingtonese to the aggressive DC MSM (with a quite non-charming, but heavy "non-American" [Canadian? :)] accent) ...

I could not help but think: In the imperial capital, the good doctor sounds like a communist apparatchik ...

RIP, Dr. Brzezinski; in honor of your devotion to America, of your family background (from a country I admire), I cite with humility the Polish national anthem). 

Addition (5/30/2017)

Speaking of distinguished Poland-born "making it zbig in America" academics, I cannot help but mention  the distinguished, learned Professor Richard Pipes ("Pypes" in the USA, "Peepess" in 80s Poland -- when I was there -- by my poor transliteration into Polish )

His "tough as-nails-B-Team," meant to consider "blowing up" the USSR (I simplify) before "they" ('em Russian/Commies) would incinerate the USA (yes, shades of Dr. Strangelove), was acclaimed among some we'll-win-the-Cold-War "decision-makers" in the USA. 

Unlike Brzezinski (Mr. Geopolitical Jaw-breaking "Theory"), Pipes is admirable about his knowledge/and humility before of history, thanks to meticulous research (but, most importantly, thought), not solely based on anti-Russian (ok, anti-Bolshevik) biases.

But (of course?) when Pipes the Harvard professor condescended (again ok, was allowed by communist authorities) to come to Poland (Harvard was far safer for him; he deserves a medal) he was, like pan Brzezinski, a pan Pipes (ok, born Cieszyn, Poland; he's "Jewish," not "Polish") -- so gentle, so delicate, so articulate speaking in fluent Polish on state-controlled Polish Tee-Vee, so far as I could tell, from my limited, non-Polish "eyes and ears."

Again, such a contrast in my limited "eyes and ears" to the tough, mean-hitting USA professional-football academic-inside-the beltway "Beat the shit out of 'em russki Commies" rhetoric.

Pan Pipes. Another great Cold War Poland-born warrior making it "zbig" in the USA; and again, I cite in his honor the Polish national anthem -- which I cited in honor of "zbig":

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