Summary of the town hall “A More Vital West?” at the 2012 Annual Members’ Conference.

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor
Moderated by Mr. David Ignatius, Associate Editor and Columnist, Washington Post

During the capstone town hall of the conference, former National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski reunited with moderator Mr. David Ignatius of The Washington Post for a dialogue on the future of the West, and the United States specifically, in the twenty-first century in light of recent upheaval in the Middle East, territory disputes in East Asia, and a tepid global economy. The conversation focused on:

A call for measured US leadership in the Middle East. One of the more pivotal issues the next US president will face is how to approach a nuclear Iran and manage potential conflict with Israel. Security guarantees to friends in the Middle East should be considered and our deterrence umbrella extended in the region, to make clear to Iran that a provocation would not be tolerated. The United States is close to reaching a point where it must clearly articulate its intentions in light of a nuclear Iran to Israel, Iran, and its partners in the region.

An insufficient US foreign policy strategy. The United States should be mindful not to engage haphazardly in world affairs. Foreign policy in the US lacks a cohesive strategy, and must purposefully approach only the most central and important issues that affect the US and its allies. Deliberate leadership, with a firm commitment to allies, is needed to show resolve and determination.

The need for international partnerships. In the 21st century, international partnerships will be instrumental in securing peace and prosperity around the world. In the Middle East, the United States must work with Islamic leaders to continue to defeat al-Qaeda. And in East Asia, provocative language must be minimized to encourage dialogue between China and the United States, in order to avoid the historical conflict that often erupts as structural power shifts occur in the international system.