On June 25, General Brent Scowcroft, former US national security advisor and current opened the Atlantic Council’s conference on NATO in an Era of Global Competition with remarks on NATO’s continued importance and the need for the Alliance “to adjust to a world that is endlessly and rapidly changing, beset by forces we’ve never really had to deal with before.”
In a moderated discussion with Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, General Scowcroft outlined priorities for NATO as the Alliance moves into the Wales summit. General Scowcroft emphasized the need for “an innovative blend of strategy, force capability, and exercise,” as well as the imperative of interoperability, proper resources, and continuing the Alliance’s proven record at adjusting to fundamental geopolitical shifts. General Scowcroft also argued the need to adjust the rules of unanimity in NATO decision-making so to better enable those countries willing and able to go forward with NATO missions.
General Scowcroft also discussed challenges emanating from Ukraine and from instability across the Middle East. He argued that the United States was “sound asleep” in Ukraine until it became a crisis, neglecting the unique and delicate history between Ukraine and Russia. On the increasing instability in the Middle East, he warned Iraq and Syria pose very serious challenges and that “disillusionment [with] the nation-state system in the Middle East is something we have to recognize, and we are totally unprepared…to deal with that.”
General Scowcroft serves as president of The Scowcroft Group and a board director of the Atlantic Council. He served as the national security advisor to both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, the only individual in US history appointed to the position under two different presidents. From 1982 to 1989, he was vice chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm. His twenty-nine-year military career began with graduation from West Point and concluded at the rank of lieutenant general following service as the deputy national security advisor. Out of uniform, General Scowcroft has continued in a public policy capacity by serving on various Presidential commissions, cabinet advisory boards, and corporate and nonprofit boards.