What will be the historical summary of Brent Scowcroft, a Utah native son? One approach is to think of him as the adult in the room.
This pragmatic realist and “honest broker” may seem out-of-step in the fading glow of George W. Bush’s neorealism even as voices of isolationism dot the party today (Think Paul and Cruz). But Scowcroft’s steadfast approach to “preserving order” and the overall strategy did have an impact:
In the final years of the Cold War, Scowcroft’s conservative focus on order may have been sufficient: Progress was on his side. But today, at a time when the international system is changing, for better or worse, the imperatives have become more complicated, less clear-cut. Scowcroft acknowledged later that once the Cold War ended, “we were confused, befuddled. We didn’t know what was going on, and we didn’t think it mattered much.” Or as Sparrow puts it, he does not try to “alter the nature of the game; . . . he plays the game set before him.” It was Scowcroft who helped momentarily push and then retract the widely derided concept of “the new world order.”
Scow croft possessed to notable qualities, according to the author Bartholomew Sparrow, as noted in the WSJ: “his mastery of the day-to-day process of formulating strategy” and the “ability to balance the need to use power assertively, on the one hand, and to temper that assertiveness with prudence, on the other .”