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Brent Scowcroft, RIP

August 7, 2020

The death of Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft closes an interesting chapter in American foreign policy that featured the success of a Republican “war Party” over the ministrations of a realist foreign policy.

On one side was Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger and President George H. W. Bush and on the other Michael Gerson, Paul Wolfowitz and President George W. Bush.

There are limits placed on great powers and when violated reality imposes penalties.

Committed to a modern form of Wilsonian democratic idealism, George W. Bush burst those limits to a breaking point and destroyed the balance of power in the Middle East by invading Iraq.

Brent Scowcroft, a national security professional who respected those limits, spoke openly against that invasion. Always counseling restraint, Scowcroft guided our defense of Kuwait by repelling Saddam Hussein even while allowing him to limp back to Iraq.

For all his evil intent, Iraq under Saddam was a useful counter to Iran. After the loss of 130,000 civilian lives at a cost of $3 trillion, for all his unnecessary bluster, President Trump has honored his commitment to reduce our troop levels in that region.

Unfortunately, none as sagacious an advisor as Brent Scowcroft has taken his place.

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