Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush,
was highly critical of the current president’s handling of foreign policy
in an interview published this week, saying that the current President Bush
is “mesmerized” by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, that Iraq is a
“failing venture” and that the administration’s unilateralist approach has
harmed relations between Europe and the United States.

Scowcroft’s remarks, reported in London’s Financial Times, are unusual
coming from a leading Republican less than three weeks before a highly
contested election. In the first Bush administration, Scowcroft was a
mentor to Condoleezza Rice, the current national security adviser, and he
is regarded as a close associate of the president’s father.

Scowcroft declined a request for an interview yesterday. When asked if he
had been quoted correctly, his office responded with a statement: “He has
been and is a supporter of President Bush and thinks he is the best
qualified to lead our country.”

Scowcroft’s remarks to the Financial Times reflect a sense of unease among
some GOP foreign policy experts about the White House’s handling of foreign
policy — especially those who, such as Scowcroft, are considered part of
what is called the realist wing. Realists, in contrast to those who are
called neoconservatives, prefer to deal with other nations on their own
terms, whether they are democracies or not, and were skeptical that a war
in Iraq would help make democracy blossom throughout the Middle East.

Generally, such concerns have been muted and voiced privately, but
Scowcroft’s interview was blunt, especially over Bush’s handling of the
Arab-Israeli conflict.

“Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger,” Scowcroft told the
Financial Times. “I think the president is mesmerized.” He added: “When
there is a suicide attack [followed by a reprisal] Sharon calls the
president and says, ‘I’m on the front line of terrorism,’ and the president
says, ‘Yes, you are”¦’ He [Sharon] has been nothing but trouble.”

Although both Bush and Kerry have been very supportive of Sharon’s plan to
withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Scowcroft said he warned Rice that this is a
ruse to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

“When I first heard Sharon was getting out of Gaza I was having dinner with
Condi and she said: ‘At least that’s good news,'” Scowcroft recounted. “And
I said: ‘That’s terrible news”¦Sharon will say: ‘I want to get out of Gaza,
finish the wall [the Israeli security barrier] and say I’m done.’


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