Scowcroft and Brzezinski Skeptical on Iraq Vote

Scowcroft Skeptical on Iraq Vote (Ron Brownstein, LAT)

The election scheduled this month in Iraq could further inflame the country’s conflict and increase the risk of civil war, Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to President Bush’s father, said at a forum Thursday. Rather than leading to stability, Scowcroft said, he feared that the election would further alienate Iraq’s Sunni Muslim population and that it had “a great potential for deepening the conflict.” “Indeed, we may be seeing an incipient civil war [in Iraq] at the present time.”

In one sense, the comments from Scowcroft, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, were not surprising: He has long been a critic of the Iraq war. But his stark warning about potential civil war marked one of the most ominous assessments about the implications of the upcoming election from a high-ranking former official.

Scowcroft made his comments at a luncheon sponsored by the New America Foundation, a centrist, nonpartisan Washington think tank. At the forum, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security advisor, also offered a grim prognosis for Iraq. Brzezinski said the United States should meet its goals of producing a reasonably stable Iraqi government “if we are willing to put in 500,000 troops, spend $200 billion a year, probably have the draft and have some kind of wartime taxation.”

I’ve already outlined my views on the civil war prognosis and don’t see any reason to change my mind at this stage. I respect Scowcroft’s judgment, but think he overstates the Sunni problem. That a minority that once reigned will not like being ruled by the majority with the onset of democracy is a given. It has never proven dispositive, however. The South Africa case is one example of a succesful transition. Latin America provides dozens of others. A power sharing arrangement can be put into place, along with a certain degree of regional autonomy.

While Brzezinski is a brilliant student of world affairs, his credentials as a military man are minimal. Other countries, most of them far poorer than Iraq, seem to manage to govern themselves without an occupation force the size of our Desert Storm deployment and a budget that exceeds the GDP of most countries.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. reliapundit says:

    Here’s what I blogged about these two turkeys last month:


    Bush Critics are Bankrupt

    In this post (“The impoverished diplomacy of Bush’s critics” –, POWERLINE makes short work of Brzezinski and Scowcroft’s criticisms of Bush, and of their suggestions to Bush on the Middle East (while easily dispatching with the awful Robin Wright of the decent Wash Post).

    I would only add this when it comes to the oft quoted 2 “old wise men:”

    Zbig and Brent were BOTH abject FAILURES:

    with Zbig, we abandoned a key ally in the Shah and got Khomeini – and the horrible hostage crisis. Also on his watch – the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, and the ascension of Saddam – and all 4 of these DISASTERS were met with absolutley NO effective response.

    With Brent we got the unfinished business from the unfinished Gulf War version 1991 – and let’s not forget he allowed Saddam to put down the Shia uprising (in what amounted to genocide) – in spite of the fact that he and Bush Sr. had initially encouraged them to rise up against Saddam and overthrow him.

    More than any other two national security advisors, Zbig and Brent are responsible for the mess we’re in today.

    Only Clinton’s 8 years of repeated failures in the face of Jihadoterror (Khobar, the 1993 WTC bombing, the African embassy bombings, Somalia, the Sudan, and the USS Cole) are worse.

    We should no more take foreign policy advice from Zbig or Brent than we should take a lesson in military honor & loyalty from Kerry.

    ADDENDUM: Scowcroft has charged “Ariel Sharon has Bush wrapped around his little finger” and I witnessed Brzezinski concur joyfully in a joint appearance they made on TV. IMHO, this is as serious and realistic a critcism of Bush as the one we hear from the Moore-types: that “Bush is a tool of the House of Saud.” These mutually exclusive charges are nothing more than LUDICROUS “tin-foil hat” ravings, and they say more about those who utter them than they do about Bush. It’s just further proof that Scowcroft and Brzezinski – and Michael Moore – are inane as-h-les who have descended into irrelevance via “B.D.S.” THEY SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

  2. DC Loser says:

    There you have it, it’s Clinton’s fault!

  3. reliapundit says:


    9/11 wasn’t planned on 9/10.

    The world changed on 9/11.

    Those who were asleep AT THE WHEEL before 9/11, and who’ve shown no sign of waking up are the LAST people we should look to for wisdom or guidance now.

    That means losers like Brent and Zbig and Clinton and Berger.

    But, hey: it’s a free country, and if you want to listen to people whose failed policies got us here – fine, go ahead.

    I prefer those who recognize that the pre-0/11 status quo was actually bad, and that we all had a false sense of security.

    I prefer bold leaders who think anew and seek to leverage our power in new ways in order to remake the world – “run the table” – and defeat the enemy, rather than those who would trade victory’s sweets for a bland plate of status quo — as Scowcroft and Bush 41 did in 1991, and as Clinton did from 1992-2001.

    SO: there’s plenty of blame to go around: Reagan failed in this regard (by not retaliating after the Beirut attack and by trading with the Mullahs); Bush 41 failed; and Clinton failed too (as my earlier post outlined).

    That does not make me a partisan. But it makes your snide retort both partisan and shallow.

    Have a nice weekend.

  4. DC Loser says:

    Nah. It just makes you resentful and spiteful.

  5. DC Loser says:

    Oh yeah, and I forgot to add…

    Lighten up, Francis.

  6. DC Loser says:

    Why not go back further, maybe FDR for taking us off the gold standard? How about Wilson and his 14 points? Heck, maybe ol’ Honest Abe or George Washington didn’t do enough and got us where we are?

  7. reliapundit says:

    DC: You’ve proved my point about yourself better than I did – or ever could, thanks!

    Have a good one!

  8. DC Loser says:

    Nice comeback!