Krauthammer on Realism, Oppression and Scowcroft

Charles Krauthammer hits another home run with this zing on Bush 41 National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft:

Realists prize stability above all, and there is nothing more stable than a ruthlessly efficient dictatorship. Which is why Scowcroft is the man who six months after Tiananmen Square toasted those who ordered the massacre; who, as the world celebrates the Beirut Spring that evicted the Syrian occupation from Lebanon, sees not liberation but possible instability; who can barely conceal a preference for Syria’s stabilizing iron rule.

Even today Scowcroft says, ‘I didn’t think that calling the Soviet Union the ‘evil empire’ got anybody anywhere.” Tell that to Natan Sharansky and other Soviet dissidents for whom that declaration of moral — beyond geopolitical — purpose was electrifying, and helped galvanize the dissident movements that ultimately brought down the Soviet empire.

It was not brought down by diplomacy and arms control, the preferred realist means for dealing with the Soviet Union. It was brought down by indigenous revolutionaries, encouraged and supported by Ronald Reagan, a president unabashedly dedicated not to detente with evil, but its destruction — i.e., regime change.

For realists such as Scowcroft, regime change is the ultimate taboo. Too risky, too dangerous, too unpredictable.

About six months after the fall of the Berlin Wall I toured parts of Eastern Europe. Returning, I was invited to the White House (not me alone — a group) for a discussion about the arms control negotiations that then were occurring with the Soviet Union. It quickly became apparent that the Bush 41 national security officials present were treating Eastern Europe as a continuing part of the Soviet Empire. I contested this and was rebuffed several times, politely but firmly. To them, the world stood as it had in previous decades. I persisted, to no effect, except that in my frustration at the horror that the Soviet Union was ending and the White House appeared not to be noticing, I began to cry. This quite unintentional action mortified me, but such was the passion of the moment, and it had the effect upon the Administration people present (gentlemen all) that the sight of a woman crying always has. I give them high marks for their solicitations (“It’s okay, ma’am! Really, it will be fine!”), but on the issue of the Cold War ending, they remained unmoved and unseeing.

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