Tomorrow (Thursday), I have organized a meeting in the U.S. Senate for an eclectic group of foreign policy thinkers, writers, and activists. Although we have about 50 people attending, I am working with a number of collaborators to try and prop up some worthy new thinking in the foreign policy sandbox and to get more progressive and centrist thinkers pulling partly the same way.
To kick things off, I have asked former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski to share their thoughts on what they think a road map for American engagement with the world ought to look like.
As I have written previously, I was quite taken by both Brzezinski’s and Scowcroft’s respective op-eds highlighting new opportunities for America’s efforts in the Middle East, in Transatlantic relations, and elsewhere. I am attaching both op-eds as a file here.
What is really interesting though is that I’m pretty sure that tomorrow will be Brent Scowcroft’s first public, on-the-record comments since his tenure as Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board was not continued, as most had expected would be the case.
Some are saying that Scowcroft was “fired” by Bush for his disloyal comments — but Scowcroft’s staff are reporting that his appointment was not renewed. The bottom line is that with Scowcroft outside the bounds of Bush’s informal and formal control, there are no remaining senior former Bush I loyalists in Bush II’s inner circle — and Brent Scowcroft may be freer to speak right now.
Sidney Blumenthal masterfully describes Bush’s purge of those who question his infallibility in this piece in the Guardian:
The transition to President Bush’s second term, filled with backstage betrayals, plots and pathologies, would make for an excellent chapter of I, Claudius.
To begin with, Bush has unceremoniously and without public acknowledgement dumped Brent Scowcroft, his father’s closest associate and friend, as chairman of the foreign intelligence advisory board.
The elder Bush’s national security adviser was the last remnant of traditional Republican realism permitted to exist within the administration.
And Chris Nelson follows up with his own version of the ‘totality’ of the purge in his newsletter, The Nelson Report. Here is the preamble to his piece:
BUSH CONTINUES DISSENT PURGES…
SCOWCROFT LOST TO INTEL BOARD
SUMMARY: technically, it is true that neither Secretary of State Powell nor former National Security Advisor Scowcroft have been “fired” from their positions. Technically.
But it’s also true that both had expectations of being asked to stay on, a few months in Powell’s case, and for another term on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, in Scowcroft’s.
The real difference is that Powell’s replacement by Condi Rice put everyone “on notice” what Bush 2 would look…and sound…like. But if Scowcroft was not surprised to be dumped, the policy community is shocked and worried as the trend continues…Bush, Rice and Cheney are purging anyone who’s stood up to them in any way.
Being right is the kiss of death, it turns out. From now on, there will be, by design, no adult supervision.
I will report on what General Scowcroft and Dr. Brzezinski share with us tomorrow as well as with good notes, and my own comments on the ensuing discussion.
— Steve Clemons