One of America’s foremost experts on international affairs says that President Obama’s new policy of “opening to the world has been an enormous success.” General Brent Scowcroft, a widely-respected former national security advisor who served under US Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, tells VOA’s Carol Castiel and senior news analyst Gary Thomas, that Obama has so far “done a terrific job of changing the mood inside the United States and towards the United States.”
Nonetheless, General Scowcroft, who vocally opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, cites enormous diplomatic challenges facing the Obama administration – in Afghanistan, Iran, Russia and North Korea.
Scowcroft says that trying to create a modern state in Afghanistan will be much harder than it has been in Iraq. But he endorses the new US counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan – improving security by gaining the allegiance of the local people to support the war effort. On Iran, General Scowcroft notes that the disputed presidential election is a symptom of the divide among the Iranian clerics.
Responding to those who initially criticized President Obama for not overtly siding with the protestors, Scowcroft says that the President handled the crisis “just about right.” He says US core interests revolve around Iran’s behavior rather than the make-up of its government. In that vein, he asserts that the top US priority is in preventing a surge of nuclear proliferation in the region.
Scowcroft applauds the recent agreement to decrease US and Russian nuclear arsenals and other efforts to “reset” the troubled relationship. He says that the roots of current US-Russian tensions over Georgia and NATO expansion date back to the end of the Cold War. Scowcroft faults the United States for never fully grasping the depth of Russian humiliation at the collapse of the former Soviet Union. In contrast, General Scowcroft says China has been the most successful US foreign policy venture within the last 30 to 40 years.
He adds that the US and Chinese economies are inextricably tied together. North Korea is another point of convergence as both countries share an interest in containing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. China does not want to have chaos on its border with North Korea nor does it want to see Japan or South Korea reassess their positions regarding the acquisition of nuclear weapons.Click here to listen to the full interview with Brent Scowcroft on VOA’s Press Conference USA.
General Scowcroft is President of the Scowcroft Group, a Washington-based international consulting firm. He is the co-author, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski, of the recently published book, “America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy.”