Sowing the Seeds of Soviet Decline: Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Carter Administration: 1977-1981

Change log
Keville, Stephen 

This dissertation endeavours to demonstrate that Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Carter administration in which he served helped to end the Cold War. It examines Brzezinski’s career prior to the Carter years and looks at the formation of his strategy for dismantling the Soviet bloc. It then examines his role as National Security Adviser from 1977 to 1981 and how he implemented the ideas he formulated in his early years and the impact these would have upon the course of the Cold War. Specifically, it looks at the issues of human rights and soft power in Eastern Europe, the normalization of relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet-Afghan War. These three issues involve the three central strategic fronts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, on which Brzezinski and Carter sought to curtail Soviet influence. The thesis aims to accredit Brzezinski with a key role in ending the Cold War due to his efforts on these three fronts, with a particular emphasis upon his role in instigating the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which was a key factor in the breakdown of the Soviet Union. The thesis connects the previously unrelated facts of the cumulative impact of Carter’s policies and their impact upon the outcome of the Cold War and comes to the conclusion that the Carter administration was anything but weak in the area of foreign affairs but did in fact significantly contribute to the U.S. achieving victory in 1991. The dissertation therefore contributes to historical scholarship through giving Brzezinski and the Carter administration the credit they deserve for their role in helping to bring about the end of the Cold War and fills a gap in a literature which has thus far underappreciated their significant and overlooked contribution to defeating the Soviet Union.

Halper, Stefan
Brzezinski, Carter, Cold War, United States, The Soviet Union
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge