Brent Scowcroft, the mild-mannered, multi-talented, cool and decisive man George Bush has chosen as his national security adviser, is, in his own words, "easy to get along with."
Despite being tapped for an amazing array of panels, commissions and blue-ribbon task forces dealing with controversial areas of national security in the past couple of decades, Scowcroft has few known enemies.Most recently, Scowcroft was on the Tower Commission, appointed by President Reagan to look into the Iran-Contra scandal. The commission concluded Reagan engaged in an arms-for-hostages swap and criticized his management style. Of Bush, the commission said almost nothing, except to note that he was present at key White House meetings.
Scowcroft was the one who went to Reagan after the Tower Commission report to say Reagan had to be more in command of the White House to "staunch the flow" of negative news stories. He continues to believe the United States suffered "a real blow" with the perception that Reagan "gave in to terrorists."
Deceptively quiet, modest and self-effacing, Scowcroft has a formidable command of the nation's security and intelligence problems. He is no shrinking violet when it comes to presenting his opinions. In picking him, Bush noted that Scowcroft will be the man to "shake me and wake me" if there is a post-midnight crisis.
Bush also said Scowcroft will not be a policy maker but an "honest broker" in presenting various points of view to him for decisions. Bush made clear that his secretary of state, James Baker, will be the policy man.
The national security adviser "remains the creature of the president." The positon will be largely what he wants it to be.
Scowcroft, who is a consultant with Henry Kissinger Associates, said Wednesday he is pleased with the changes made in the National Security Council after the Iran-Contra scandal, saying it will be "a joy" to work with the staff now.
Scowcroft, 63, was a brigadier general when he first gained the public eye in 1972, when he headed the advance party to Moscow to prepare for Richard Nixon's historic visit. Reporters at the time noted that Scowcroft spoke Russian, Croatian and Serbian; held a number of high-level Pentagon planning jobs; skiied; played golf, tennis and squash, swam; and was a crack shot with a pistol.