Out of Control

Speed is a dominant player in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s latest book, his fourth since 1970 that attempts to assess the position and future of the United States in world politics. BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (1970) viewed the United States as moving into a new era ahead of other major countries. GAME PLAN (1986) offered hope that the United States, because of internal weaknesses in the Soviet Union, could prevail in the Cold War. THE GRAND FAILURE (1989) accurately predicted that the Soviet experiment in communism was losing steam and would collapse.

By the author’s own admission, OUT OF CONTROL is a subjective book that is not offered as a policy statement. Rather, it warns what could lie ahead for the United States and the world. Brzezinski points out that international affairs are moving so fast that the world as it exists is already much different from the world people have begun to comprehend. People may catch up with understanding the world. Ironically, however, when they do, that actual, fast-moving world will again be so drastically different from the one they are then perceiving as to be barely recognizable.

Brzezinski thinks that, as the twenty-first century approaches, the United States is the only extant world power with genuinely global influence. He questions, though, whether a global power that lacks a consistent set of moral values, relevant globally, can sustain its leadership. He critiques a century of megadeath—more than 170 million people eliminated by wars and genocide during the twentieth century—and metamyth—transcendent ideologies used to justify megadeath.

Totalitarianism—for Brzezinski, organized insanity—has failed. Brzezinski fears, however, that it has not died. Signs of it abound.