"He was known to his friends as Zbig, to his grandchildren as Chief and to his wife as the enduring love of her life".
In presenting the award Carter called Brzezinski's leadership "instrumental in building peace and ending the estrangement of the Chinese and American people".
He was also a prime player behind the failed US mission in 1980 to rescue USA hostages held in Iran after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran. "You always knew where Zbig stood, and his ideas and advocacy helped shape decades of American national security policy".
But some critics say he helped spawn al-Qaeda by working through the Central Intelligence Agency to arm and support anti-Soviet jihadists in Afghanistan.
Carter issued a statement praising Brzezinski shortly after his death.
Brzezinski told MSNBC in 2015 that he was supportive of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, one of Obama's signature foreign policy accomplishments. He credited Brzezinski's "unyielding stance toward the Soviet Union" with playing a central role in "the demise of the totalitarian communist system".
Becoming a US citizen in 1958, Brzezinski was active in the Council of Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group and later the Trilateral Commission, private groups of USA business executives, intellectuals and politicians who work to strengthen USA ties overseas through dialogue.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, on March 28, 1928, he was taken as a youngster to Canada where his father served as a diplomat.
US diplomat: China tightened border controls with N. Korea
Another American , Kim Sang Dok, who was associated with the same school, was detained in late April on the same charge. While Ri comes from a better-regarded school, he and the other two were hand-picked by the North Korean leader himself.
In 1978, Brzezinski traveled to China to initiate talks that led to restoring full diplomatic relations with Beijing. Brzezinski characteristically favored military action to free the 52 American hostages and punish Iran.
Brzezinski taught in Harvard's government department until 1959, when he moved to Columbia University.
Impressed nonetheless, the Johnson administration appointed him to the State Department's Policy Planning Council in 1966.
Brzezinski died Friday at the age of 89.
Although it never cleared the Senate as a result of the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, SALT-2 remained in unofficially effect beyond its original five-year lifespan.
More recently, Brzezinski was senior research professor of worldwide relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced global Studies and a counselor for the Center for Strategic and worldwide Studies. He also taught foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University.
Frequent trips to Eastern Europe and several books and articles in the 1950s established Brzezinski as an expert on Communism, and by the 1960s he'd begun to attract the interest of policymakers. For the White House, the differences between Mr Vance and Mr Brzezinski became a major headache, confusing the American public about the administration's policy course and fuelling a decline in confidence that Mr Carter could keep his foreign policy team working in tandem. "Look at what happened in Iraq in 2003 - the public basically supported it". A particularly caustic critic of President George W. Bush, he strongly supported Barack Obama's election campaign in 2008, but gradually came to fault Obama's lack of "strategic determination".
Despite his retirement from US politics into academia, Brzezinski remained a sharp-eyed observer of successive USA administrations.
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