Brzezinski told CBS' "Face the Nation" the fact the two governments were actively working out a deal over Chen Guangcheng was an accomplishment in itself.
Chen showed up unannounced at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing seeking sanctuary after escaping from house arrest. His escape came as the United States was preparing for high-level meetings in China and was complicated by his initial refusal to ask for political asylum in the United States.
"It was messy, it was unpredictable," Brzezinski said. "My guess is he was really shaken up, uncertain, changing his mind."
"So all in all, I think both the sides, the Chinese as and us, handled it reasonably well," Brzezinski said, adding that such Sino-American diplomatic cooperation might not have been possible in the past.
Brzezinski, who was national security adviser for President Carter, said he considered the Obama administration as successful in the foreign policy arena.
"I would be (grading) higher if he had moved more decisively on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because he had a chance to do so, but admittedly, he was overwhelmed by domestic problems," Brzezinski said. "But he has set in motion a reconnection with Europe. He has kept the American-Chinese relationship unfolding and in balance. He's trying intelligently to disengage from Afghanistan. And he's exploring the possibilities of the more stable relationship with Russia."