The Force Is with Obama's Yoda

Why Obama turns to Brent Scowcroft, the foreign policy wise man Bush the Younger has largely ignored

Photo-illustration by Stephen Kroninger for TIME; Obama: AP; Scowcroft: Hyungwon Kang — Reuters

Eight years ago, at the brackish dawn of the second Bush era, TIME offered a list of potential national-security wise men. One was Brent Scowcroft. "Yoda of Dad's foreign policy team, will consult unseen in son's White House," we predicted, inaccurately. Instead, Scowcroft proved a demure scold. He opposed the Iraq invasion, publicly, in the Wall Street Journal. He scorned the neoconservatives and hard-power nationalists who controlled George W. Bush's foreign policy. In return, Scowcroft's brand of low-key "realism" was derided as milquetoasty by the neocons. The nickname stuck, however, among his associates at the Scowcroft Group: Yoda, he...

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