Brent Scowcroft, a former US national security adviser hailed as the archetypal “honest broker” who guided America through the end of the Cold War, has died of natural causes at the age of 95.
A foreign policy expert and mentor to America’s top diplomats, Scowcroft served in the White Houses of Gerald Ford and George HW Bush and became the model of a modern presidential adviser, offering advice to leaders of both political parties on how to navigate the Washington bureaucracy and the post-Soviet world.
He was applauded for guiding the West’s response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the peaceful reunification of Germany and the end of divisions in Europe remain his most lasting legacy. He also helped form the US-led international coalition that forced Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991.
In a sign of his influence as one of the main mandarins of US foreign policy, Democrats on Friday were as effusive in their praise as the Republicans with whom he served. Susan Rice, candidate for Joe Biden’s vice-president and national security adviser to Barack Obama, said Scowcroft was “the gold standard of national security advisers” and called him a “valued mentor. “.
Wendy Sherman, who brokered the deal with Iran under Mr. Obama, described him as “one of the wisest and kindest men I have ever known.”
The former three-star Utah Air Force general learned his civilian trade under Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s powerful national security adviser who took on Scowcroft as his deputy in 1973. Scowcroft ultimately replaced Mr. Kissinger, as Ford’s national security adviser for the past year. of his presidency.
He returned to the White House with Bush, a close friend. Although he helped orchestrate America’s entry into the First Gulf War to force Iraqi Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991, he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. , breaking up with then-President George W Bush – the son of his former boss.
“Don’t attack Saddam,” headlined a 2002 opinion piece he wrote, arguing that there was little evidence the Iraqi leader harbored weapons of mass destruction or had any connections with the attacks of September 11, and that any American invasion risked turning against it.
“An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously undermine, if not destroy, the global counterterrorism campaign that we have undertaken,” he argued, adding that any effort to destroy Hussein would be costly and bloody.
Scowcroft’s stature after leaving the Bush White House continued to grow, even rivaling that of Mr. Kissinger. New national security advisers have regularly sought his advice on how to guide Washington’s foreign policy bureaucracy.
“You can never have enough Scowcroft,” Mr Kissinger told a reporter in 2013. “But you’re lucky if you have one.”
The West Point graduate once said of himself that his main skill was not his speed of thought but his ability to “distinguish good ideas from bad”.
Richard Haass, who served in both Bush administrations and is now chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, said he “sets the standard” for all national security advisers, adding that he struck the right balance. between advising and informing the president.
Robert O’Brien is the latest of Donald Trump’s national security advisers who have said they want to follow in Scowcroft’s footsteps as an “honest broker.”
Scowcroft had encouraged Republicans to take up positions in the Trump administration following the unexpected election of the inexperienced president, with whom many Republicans were reluctant to work.
“If you are asked to serve, please do so,” he said. “This man needs help.”
James Baker, a former Secretary of State who served alongside Scowcroft in the George HW Bush administration, said he “helped guide the United States and the world to a peaceful end to the Cold War.”
“Friendliness, transparency and a balanced nature were the keys to his success, and thanks to those traits, I knew he was always there for me,” he said.
Scowcroft died at his home in Virginia, according to a family spokesperson.