WASHINGTON (Nov. 23)
Brent Scowcroft, whom President-elect George Bush appointed Wednesday as his national security adviser, does not have an extensive public record on the Middle East.
Scowcroft, who will be returning to the position he held in the last two years of the Ford administration, is better known for his expertise on arms control and the Soviet Union.
Officials involved in pro-Israel causes say privately that while he is not anti-Israel, he might lean more toward the Arab countries. In 1981, he was one of 16 former top-ranking government officials who publicly supported the sale of AWACS survellance planes to Saudi Arabia.
Scowcroft, who now works for Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, has been a consultant for businesses dealing with the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia.
However, as in the case of Secretary of State-designate james Baker, who also does not have a well-known record on Israel, pro-Israeli sources are crossing their fingers that Scowcroft will abide by Bush’s stated intention of continuing the Reagan administration’s strategic alliance with Israel.
Bush’s appointment of the 63-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant general was expected and was touted even before Bush’s election.
“Brent is a trusted friend and he understands the White House, he understands the military, the State Department (and enjoys) the respect of many of our nation’s leaders on both sides of the aisle,” Bush said before leaving for the Thanksgiving weekend. “He also has earned the respect of world leaders around the globe.”
If Bush, as expected, next week names former Sen. John Tower of Texas as secretary of defense, he will have appointed two of the three members of President Reagan’s special review board on the Iran/Contra affair. The other member was former Secretary of State Edward Muskie, once a Democratic senator from Maine.
The review board recommended that the national security adviser have direct access to the president without having to go through the chief of staff or anyone else, something Bush stressed Scowcroft will have.