After delivering a detailed analysis on the current state of world politics, former National Security Agency Adviser Brent Scowcroft left the audience in the Ford Presidential Library with these words: The next president is going to have a hell of a time.
The focus of Scowcroft’s speech was the dramatic change in the international climate since the Cold War.
“The Cold War represented an intense period of rival nations overhung by a threat of nuclear war,” Scowcroft said. “While today’s problems are much less overwhelming, the enemy is harder to identify and a different approach to war is required.”
He discussed the growing resentment the rest of the world harbors for the United States’s supremacy.
“We have a sense of our power and what we are after, and we think others ought to agree with us,” Scowcroft said.
The library staff embraced the opportunity to have Scowcroft speak.
“General Scowcroft’s appearance will help the Ford Library have a more visible presence with the University and the Ann Arbor community,” supervisory archivist Dave Horrocks said. “He is very deeply respected by people of many different views.”
Horrocks said the speech came at an ideal time: 10 days after the opening of a permanent exhibit at the library titled “Art of Diplomacy.”
“General Scowcroft spoke very knowledgeably,” history teacher Bob Storteboom of Grand Rapids said. “He really laid out how the world has changed since his tenure.”
Scowcroft said the University has a vital mission to accomplish in terms of national security.
“The University needs to work to prepare young people to assume responsibility in national security,” Scowcroft said. “Students need to learn about the world and its complexities and how they can make a world that is better not only for America, but for all people.”
Scowcroft’s lecture was the seventh William E. Simon lecture on Public Affairs, sponsored by the Ford Foundation. Simon was secretary of the treasury during the Nixon and Ford administrations. He founded the lecture series in 1988.
Scowcroft served as the national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Today he is president and founder of the Scowcroft Group and a prominent commentator on international policy.
“President Ford was a very special person to me,” Scowcroft said. “I would come at any opportunity to pay homage to him and his great work.”