Former US national security advisor Scowcroft dies, aged 95

Brent Scowcroft, the respected national security advisor to two Republican presidents and a Washington heavyweight who served administrations from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, has died aged 95, the George H.W. Bush Foundation announced Friday.

An outspoken critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq, Scowcroft was a member of the Republican foreign policy establishment who nevertheless endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 White House campaign won by President Donald Trump. He died of natural causes, a statement from the foundation said.

“No individual has provided as many commanders-in-chief as much national security advice –- irrespective of party lines,” the statement continued.

The current national security advisor under Trump, Robert O’Brien, called Scowcroft “one of the most distinguished individuals to serve” in the post.

“Scowcroft set the standard for effective leadership and defined the modern role of the NSA,” O’Brien said in a statement.

“My goal since taking office has been to follow the ‘Scowcroft Model’.”

Born in 1925 in Ogden, Utah, Scowcroft went on to graduate from West Point military academy in 1947, rising through the ranks to become a lieutenant general in the air force while collecting degrees in international relations along the way.

He served as military assistant to Nixon, and later resigned from the Air Force to become President Gerald Ford’s national security advisor. He went on to perform the same role for George H.W. Bush, becoming the first man to serve two presidents in the role.

Scowcroft “recognized the essential -– though not limitless -– role US power and leadership could play in making the world a safer and more prosperous place,” the Bush foundation statement said.

It added that, despite a military background, Scowcroft believed that “although military force is an important tool of statecraft, it is not a substitute for policy and diplomacy.”

He argued against invading Iraq in 2003 as it took the focus off the fight against Al-Qaeda.

And he endorsed Clinton in 2016 based on her experience as Secretary of State under Barack Obama, reportedly arguing that she had “deep expertise” and a “sophisticated understanding” of international affairs that was “essential” in a president. 

“His thinking, which placed a premium on strategy, was guided by key principles, including the importance of history in shaping international affairs, the necessity of strong US international leadership … the importance of gaining domestic and international support for US leadership, and the utility of working through allies, coalitions, and international institutions,” the foundation said.

His funeral will be held privately, it added.