Brzezinski’s Proxy War Playbook

by | Jun 22, 2022

Brzezinski’s Proxy War Playbook

by | Jun 22, 2022

untitled design

In 1998, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbiegnew Brzezinski told Le Nouvel Observateur that the CIA “knowingly increased the probability” that the Russians would invade Afghanistan by covertly supporting the Mujahideen before the Soviet invasion. Later in that same interview, Brzezinski claims that this covert intervention caused the end of the Soviet Union:

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

In July 2014, almost six months after the Maidan Revolution and Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea, Brzezinski hinted at a similar plan for Ukraine, although he couched it in defensive terms. He wrote on the Atlantic Council’s blog:

If Ukraine has to be supported so that it does resist, the Ukrainians have to know the West is prepared to help them resist. And there’s no reason to be secretive about it. It would be much better to be open about it and to say to the Ukrainians and to those who may threaten Ukraine that if Ukrainians resist, they will have weapons. And we’ll provide some of those weapons in advance of the very act of invasion. Because in the absence of that, the temptation to invade and to preempt may become overwhelming. But what kind of weapons is important. And in my view, they should be weapons designed particularly to permit the Ukrainians to engage in effective urban warfare of resistance.

In September 2014, Brzezinski revisited the topic in an MSNBC interview:

Brzezinski: For the moment, the NATO alliance—as well as Europe and America jointly—have not been giving military aid to Ukraine. But I would not exclude the possibility of some defensive weaponry being given to the Ukrainians before too long, simply if the Russians, and particularly Putin, continue to try to intimidate Ukraine. That’s not the same thing as defending them; it’s helping them defend themselves.

MSNBC: Is that the middle path you think the United States is going to take—something more than economic sanctions, but less than proxy war?

Brzezinski: I think so. It seems to me that if we really are serious about Ukraine having the right to be an independent state with a friendly relationship with Europe, but not necessarily a member of NATO, and if Ukraine is not only threatened but actually victimized by Russia using force, then some defensive arms — publicly given — but only defensive weaponry, handed over to the Ukrainians makes eminent sense. It contributes to greater stability and it’s more likely to deter Mr. Putin than if he’s in effect given the green light to use as much force as he feels like.

Despite Brzezinski’s defensive framing in Ukraine, Washington’s support for the Ukrainian military bears many similarities to its support of the Mujahideen.

The first documented CIA support to the Mujahideen came in July 1979 when “a small political action program [was approved] to support the burgeoning [Afghan] insurgency through Pakistan.” After the invasion, Washington’s clandestine assistance to the Mujahideen sought to “get arms in [their] hands and keep them fighting.”

These efforts consisted of sales of military equipment through the Pakistani ISI. The most effective support included the transfer of Stinger missiles, which equipped the Mujahideen to destroy Russian helicopters. In the Reagan years, these transfers were facilitated by the deployment of “CIA Special Activities Division paramilitary officers.”

In early February 1980, Brzezinski visited Pakistan for a series of meetings with then-Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq to discuss American support to Pakistan in the wake of the Soviet invasion. As a part of the delegation, Brzezinski made a “symbolic visit” to Afghan refugees in the Khyber Pass. Speaking of the Mujahideen, he told the refugees:

We know of their deep belief in God and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail. And you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.

In January 2022, a month before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was revealed by U.S. intelligence officials that the CIA had been providing covert assistance to the Ukrainian military since 2014. The program began under Barack Obama, was expanded under Donald Trump, and continued under Joe Biden. According to Yahoo News:

The multiweek, U.S.-based CIA program has included training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, tactics like “cover and move,” intelligence and other areas, according to former officials.

…The program has involved “very specific training on skills that would enhance” the Ukrainians’ “ability to push back against the Russians,” said the former senior intelligence official.

The training, which has included “tactical stuff,” is “going to start looking pretty offensive if Russians invade Ukraine,” said the former official.

One person familiar with the program put it more bluntly. “The United States is training an insurgency,” said a former CIA official, adding that the program has taught the Ukrainians how “to kill Russians.”

Although some of the cited intelligence officials denied the training aimed to “create an insurgency,” much of the training is dually applicable. The semantic squirming that Brzezinski and other intelligence officials employ in their attempts to distinguish defensive support from prepping an insurgency is literally in-credible. This is especially true considering the type of weapons that complimented this training: “sniper rifles, armed boats, RPGs, and Javelin anti-tank missiles[.]”

Further, in an address that is eerily similar to Brzezinski’s 1980 visit to the Khyber Pass, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke to the Ukrainian 36th Separate Marine Brigade. During the January 2, 2017 address, Graham and McCain praised the Ukrainian soldiers.

Graham: “I admire the fact that you will fight for your homeland. Your fight is our fight. 2017 will be the year of offense. All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia. Enough of the Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price…Our promise to you is to take your cause to Washington, inform the American People of your bravery, and make the case against Putin to the World.”

McCain: “I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win. We have succeeded not because of equipment but because of your courage. So I thank you and the world is watching because we [] cannot allow Vladimir Putin to succeed here, because if he succeeds here, he will succeed in other countries.”

In the 1980s, Brzezinski’s covert “bleeder” strategy was calculated to give the USSR “its own Vietnam,” which Brzezinski later claimed caused the end of the Soviet Union.

In spring and early summer 2022, the goal of Washington’s involvement in Ukraine became more openly stated: regime change in Moscow. Was this always the objective?

Unlike the debatable effect of Brzezinski’s 1980s Afghanistan intervention, Washington’s involvement in Ukraine was directly cited by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a casus belli. In his February 2022 speech, Putin stated:

Any further expansion of the North Atlantic alliance’s infrastructure or the ongoing efforts to gain a military foothold of the Ukrainian territory are unacceptable for us. Of course, the question is not about NATO itself. It merely serves as a tool of US foreign policy. The problem is that in territories adjacent to Russia, which I have to note is our historical land, a hostile “anti-Russia” is taking shape. Fully controlled from the outside, it is doing everything to attract NATO armed forces and obtain cutting-edge weapons.

Brzezinski’s influence on the foreign policy establishment is immense. Brzezinski was among the first to call for the end of Putin’s government. He was also among the first to compare Putin to Hitler. Brzezinski’s protégés include such figures as Barack Obama, Madeline Albright, Victoria Nuland, Jake Sullivan, and Antony Blinken.

Although Washington’s actual role in provoking the Soviet invasion is debatable, one must wonder: if the Russian invasion of Ukraine were to bring the end of Putin’s Russia, would Brzezinski’s ghost and its lineage of Straussian ghouls champion Washington’s role in exacerbating the conflict?

More importantly, if regime change is the goal, what cost must the world be made to pay?

About Patrick Macfarlane

Patrick MacFarlane is the Justin Raimondo Fellow at the Libertarian Institute where he advocates a noninterventionist foreign policy. He is a Wisconsin attorney in private practice. He is the host of the Vital Dissent at, where he seeks to oppose calamitous escalation in US foreign policy by exposing establishment narratives with well-researched documentary content and insightful guest interviews. His work has appeared on,, and Zerohedge. He may be reached at

Listen to Vital Dissent with Patrick MacFarlane

Listen to Vital Dissent with Patrick MacFarlane

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles


Life During Gaza Wartime

Life During Gaza Wartime

People are by now firmly entrenched in their respective positions regarding the conflict raging in Gaza since October 7, 2023. The Hamas attacks on that day have served as the pretext for a “war” on the Palestinian people for the past seven months. The announcement...

read more
The Vietnamization of Ukraine

The Vietnamization of Ukraine

As Ukraine’s defeat in the war moves closer, the neocons are desperate to draw the US further into the fight. Over the weekend, former U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland told ABC News that the U.S. must help facilitate Ukrainian missile attacks deep inside...

read more
Biden’s Sham Snickers Salvation Shtick

Biden’s Sham Snickers Salvation Shtick

In 1896, Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan made a famous pro-inflation speech, proclaiming "you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold" (and stable prices). In 2024, President Joe Biden is campaigning for re-election by denouncing...

read more