October 26, 2005


Ceding Idealism to the GOP (Richard Cohen, Washington Post, 10/25/05)

About six months after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, George H.W. Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, went to Beijing and met with China's "paramount leader," Deng Xiaoping. Scowcroft said he communicated the president's unhappiness over the massacre, to which Deng essentially said, Mind your own business. "And I said, 'You're right. It is none of our business,' " Scowcroft tells Jeffrey Goldberg in the current New Yorker. This raises an obvious question: How many have to die before it is our business?

That question is at the heart of the dilemma now facing American foreign policy. Scowcroft is a famous realist. Not for him any grand, noble causes. He is parsimonious with American lives and treasure, and he vocally opposed George W. Bush's intention to go to war in Iraq. He found out this was a different Bush with a different foreign policy. The younger Bush's was infused with moralism.

CIA Leak Linked to Dispute Over Iraq Policy (Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 10/25/05)

Scowcroft, in his interview, discussed an argument over Iraq he had two years ago with Condoleezza Rice, then-national security adviser and current secretary of state. "She says we're going to democratize Iraq, and I said, 'Condi, you're not going to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth," he said. The article stated that with a "barely perceptible note of satisfaction," Scowcroft added: "But we've had fifty years of peace."

Mr. Scowcroft can't really believe he's winning anybody over to his brand of foreign policy, can he?

Posted by kevin_whited at October 26, 2005 10:21 PM

Who's "we", white boy?

Scowcroft was a disgrace in 1989, and he is a disgrace today.

Posted by: ratbert at October 26, 2005 10:50 PM

"But we've had fifty years of peace." No it ended on 9/11, you moron. (Granted sometimes it takes a PhD to be that stupid.)

Posted by: Gideon at October 26, 2005 11:27 PM

50 years of peace? Give the man an "F" in 20th Century World History. Talk about going through life w/blinders on! I heard Scowcroft on NPR the other day, what a worm.

Posted by: Dave W. at October 26, 2005 11:56 PM

Fifty years of peace? That doesn't fit the facts no matter how we slice or dice it. If it's the Middle East, we've had 1956, 1967, 1973, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Gulf War I (Iraq vs. Iran), and Saddamn's invasion of Kuwait. Probably plus a couple more that I'm forgetting to mention. If, on the other hand, it's the whole world, the record only gets worse. If, on the other OTHER hand, we are only talking about wars between superpowers and hyperpowers, well, then we STILL have peace so what's Scowcroft complaining and/or smirking about?

Posted by: HT at October 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Scowcroft is the other side of the "Scarred by Vietnam" coin from the over-50 anti-war protestors who see opposing any further action in Iraq as a neat way to relive old times and deal with a mid-life crisis. Brent's lesson from the war was never get the U.S. entangled in any long-term operations that might cost more than a handful of lives. That leads him to value stability above all else, even if by leaving things as they are the U.S. may set itself up for far greater danger from rogue operations with covert foreign support in the future.

Posted by: John at October 27, 2005 12:32 AM

HT: We have had 50 years of war including attacks on American territory (WTC 1993), American soldiers (Beirut 1983, Saudi Arabia 1994), American Embassies (Terhan 1978, Kenya and Tanzainia, 1998), and this stupid fool doesn't realize it. Of course he is not alone. Liberals seem to be just as unable to grasp this realists.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 27, 2005 12:37 AM

I like to think of it as there's a house down the street where the kids are being molested, but why call the cops, at least they keep in it inside the house. It's not a very nice argument.

Posted by: RC at October 27, 2005 2:13 AM

Well certainly nothing has troubled Mr. Scowcroft's serenity.

Posted by: tefta at October 27, 2005 8:21 AM

The Scowcroft/Fukuyama/Kerry/Kissinger mentality: a few thousand deaths here and there are nothing, so long as its nobody you've ever met that does the dying.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 27, 2005 10:09 AM

brent is my kind of man! gwhb sure knew how to pick em...what a dunce.

Posted by: ward churchill at October 27, 2005 10:19 AM

Can any of you identify and single country in the Middle East who's government has taken military action against the United States, and who is currently being dealt with in the War on Terror?
Can any of you point in the direction of any evidence that Iraqi's were behind any of the terrorist attacks you've mentioned, on American Embassies and other territories?

Will anyone please admit that Iraq has nothing to do with making American safer, in the War on Terror, and please stop making faulty connections between terrorists attacks against the US and the war we are currently in now.

Posted by: Anon at October 27, 2005 3:37 PM

Anon: I wouldn't use my name either if I were prone to hijacking comment threads by going WAY off topic, and doing it with such trite talking points at that. :)

Posted by: kevin whited at October 27, 2005 3:42 PM


Syria. Palestine. I'd list Afghanistan and Iraq, but those governments no longer exist. The former aided Al Qaeda directly and substantively, and the latter invaded a US ally. What was your point again?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 27, 2005 4:59 PM

"Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" only makes sense in criminal matters because the state has such an overwhelming advantage. In all other aspects of life, when dealing with equals or near equals, from countries to people, only fools operate under that assumption. Maybe Iraq wasn't technically guilty, but it acted like it, and it wanted people to believe it, and that's more than a good enough reason.

(And aint it great how the people who say we've got to give evil, murderous dictators like Saddam Hussein "the benefit of the doubt" have at the same time tried, convicted, and in the case of Cheney, impeached and removed, a huge chunk of the administration based on the lies of one man, Joseph Wilson.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 27, 2005 6:25 PM

Hey folks, I take second place to no man in being annoyed at Scowcroft's current stance. But before you completely write off his historical role, and the rest of GHWB's team, please check out what Philip Bobbitt has to say about their masterful handling of the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. IMO, the real problem with Scowcroft and his buddies is that they haven't moved beyond that moment.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at October 28, 2005 1:36 AM