OPW: Zbigniew Brzezinski on America’s Role

Today on “Other People’s Words,” what Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser, told Charlie Rose about the actions the next president must take to restore America’s place in the world.

I think the next President should say to the world that the United States wants to be part of the solution to its problems and not, in part, the maker of their problems. And that the United States is prepared, really, to be engaged in the quest to give people in the world the dignity that they seek today, the social justice that they feel they are deprived of, and the common solution to global problems [that they desire].

But secondly, I think the president has to say very credibly and forcefully to the American people that to do that [they] have to think hard about their definition of… the good life. That the hedonistic-materialistic society at high levels of consumption [and] increasing social inequality is not a society that can be part of the solution of the world’s problems. And therefore, the president has to project to the American people a sense of demanding idealism. Idealism which is not based on self-indulgence, but on self-denial and sacrifice. Only such an America can be credible to the world.