WASHINGTON—Brent Scowcroft, a pragmatic three-star general who served as national security adviser to Republican U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and later criticized President George W. Bushs Iraq war policies, died on Thursday. He was 95.
Scowcroft, a member of the presidential commission that investigated the biggest scandal of Ronald Reagans presidency and an architect of the 1991 Gulf War under the elder Bush, died of natural causes, according to a statement on Friday from a spokesman for the Bush family.
Scowcroft reached the rank of Air Force lieutenant general during a 29-year military career and was an influential voice on U.S. national security for decades. He was a cautious internationalist—he called himself a realist—closely aligned with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Scowcroft served as chief military aide to Republican President Richard Nixon during a time when the United States was looking to extricate itself from the Vietnam War, then became Fords national security adviser from 1975 to 1977 and George H.W. Bushs national security adviser from 1989 to 1993.
“Hes just marvelous and he never asks for one ounce of credit,” the elder Bush said of Scowcroft after the Gulf War was won in March 1991.
Scowcroft, a soft-spoken man with the manner of a genial Westerner, remained close to Bush and co-authored a 1998 book with him. But he took exception to his son George W. Bushs “unilateral” approach to world affairs as president.
Scowcroft was a key adviser to the elder Bush during the 1991 Gulf War in which U.S. forces, along with a coalition of allies, expelled Iraqi troops that had invaded oil-rich neighbor Kuwait in August 1990.
The war ended with Bushs team opting to leave Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in power after Iraqs forces were quickly swept out of Kuwait. Twelve years later Bushs son ordered an invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam and led to his execution but left American troops fighting a messy war in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.
Scowcroft, in a PBS interview five years later, explained the first Bush administrations decision not to send U.S. forces to Baghdad in 1991 to overthrow Saddam.
“It was never our objective to get Saddam Hussein. Indeed, had we tried we still might be occupying Baghdad. That would have turned a great success into a very messy, probable defeat,” Scowcroft said.
Before the younger Bush launched his Iraq war in 2003, Scowcroft publicly opposed it, doubted the U.S. justifications for it, and called it an unwise diversion from the fight against terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda.
In 2004, Scowcroft called Bushs wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a “failing venture” and faulted Bush for becoming “mesmerized” by hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
In 2005, Scowcroft said the continued American presence in Iraq was inflaming the Middle East. He advocated handing over the U.S. operation in Iraq to NATO or the United Nations.
His criticisms were particularly stinging, considering he was a mentor to Condoleezza Rice, who served Bush as national security adviser and then sRead More From Source