Zbigniew Brezinski: “It is easier to kill a million people than to control them”


‘This is a truly transformative event on the global scene, namely that for the first time in human history… almost all of mankind is politically awake, activated, politically conscious and interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity, here or there, in the remotest corners of the world, which are not politically alert and interactive with the political turmoil and stirrings and aspirations around the world, and all of that is creating a worldwide surge in the quest for personal dignity and cultural respect, in a diversified world sadly accustomed for many centuries to domination of one portion of the world by another.

That is an enormous change and beyond that is the interacting of a further change, namely in the distribution of global power. It pertains to some of the obvious of which we are aware but which it is important to register, namely that we are living in a time of the basic shift away from the 500 years long global domination by the Atlantic powers. It is the countries that have been located on the shores of the Atlantic ocean, and let’s recall them, Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and more recently the United States that have dominated world affairs and that shift now is taking us towards Asia. It is not the end of the preeminence of the Atlantic world but it is now the surfacing of the Pacific region, most notably Japan, the number two economic power and China, an assertive global power that is now occupying a pre-eminent place in the global hierarchy, and of course, beyond them, there is India’s future development, though it is currently still in the wings, and it is also complicated by the re-appearance of Russia which is still restless, rather unclear about its own definition, very un-definite about its recent past and very insecure about its place in the world… these new and old major powers face still yet another novel reality, in some respects unprecedented, and it is that, while the lethality of their power is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historical low.

I once put it rather pungently and I was flattered that the British foreign secretary repeated this as follows: namely in earlier times it was easier to control a million people, literally it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people. It is easier to kill than to control…’

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