Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on May 26 at the age of 89.
Carter hailed him as "a superb public servant" as well as "brilliant, dedicated, and loyal."
Like his predecessor Henry A. Kissinger, Brzezinski was a foreign-born scholar with considerable influence in global affairs. He was born in Warsaw and educated in Canada and the United States.
During the Iranian hostage crisis, which began in 1979, Brzezinski became convinced that negotiations to free American diplomats kidnapped by mobs in Tehran were going nowhere. Supported by the Pentagon, he began to push for military action.
Carter agreed to a long-shot plan to rescue the hostages. The mission, dubbed Desert One, was a complete military failure and was one of the developments that led to Carter losing his re-election bid against Ronald Reagan in November 1980.
When Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Brzezinski strongly backed the arming of Afghan rebels in response, leading Russia to dub him a "foe of detente."