Brent Scowcroft, a pre-eminent foreign policy expert who helped shape America’s international and strategic decisions for decades as the national security adviser to Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George Bush and as a counselor to seven administrations, died on Thursday August 6 2020 at his home in Falls Church, Va. He was 95.
Mr. Scowcroft was a principal architect of American policy toward post-communist Russia, a leading Republican voice opposing the American-led invasion of Iraq after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a voice in President Barack Obama’s selection of a national security team after the 2008 elections.
He also wrote books, taught at universities and counted among his many protégés Condoleezza Rice and Robert M. Gates, both national security experts who became secretaries of state and defense for President George W. Bush.
After leaving government in 1993, Mr. Scowcroft headed the Washington-based Scowcroft Group, a consulting firm for international businesses.
Brent Scowcroft was born on March 19, 1925, in Ogden, Utah, the son of James and Lucile (Ballantyne) Scowcroft. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1947, joined the Air Force and envisioned life as a fighter pilot.
In 1951, he married Marian Horner. She died in 1995. He is survived by their daughter, Karen Scowcroft, and a granddaughter.
Mr. Scowcroft earned a master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University in 1953. He taught Russian history for four years at West Point, studied Slavic languages at Georgetown University in 1958 and, from 1959 to 1961, used his Serbo-Croatian skills as an assistant air attaché at the American Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He taught political science at the Air Force Academy in Colorado in 1962-63.
Mr. Scowcroft accompanied Nixon on his historic trip to China to establish diplomatic relations after decades of estrangement. Fluent in Russian, he next went to Moscow to prepare for Nixon’s spring visit there, a delicate task because America was bombing North Vietnam, a Soviet ally. Impressed, Henry A. Kissinger, then head of national security, chose him as his deputy in 1973. That fall, Mr. Kissinger became secretary of state, and Mr. Scowcroft ran Security Council meetings in his absence.