Philanthropist Under Fire
You probably know George Soros as the wealthy financier that the Bush cartel has targeted. In the eyes of the Bush oligarchy, Soros is a dangerous traitor. What are Soros' sins?
Well, he believes in democracy, positive international relations and effective strategies to reduce poverty, among other things. All of these concepts are considered highly dangerous and subversive to the Bush-Cheney ruling elite.
What's more, Soros backs up his beliefs with money he earned in the financial markets. And now he has committed millions of dollars to defeat George W. Bush. That makes him a class traitor to the corporate crony contributors who keep the Bush regime afloat.
Which brings us to "The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power," a recently released book by none other than George Soros. We highly recommend you buy this critical analysis of the Bush cartel's neo-con fantasy. An edited extract in "The Guardian" offers an opportunity to preview the book. Take for instance this excerpt:
"And we have been deceived. When he stood for election in 2000, President Bush promised a humble foreign policy. I contend that the Bush administration has deliberately exploited September 11 to pursue policies that the American public would not have otherwise tolerated. The US can lose its dominance only as a result of its own mistakes. At present the country is in the process of committing such mistakes because it is in the hands of a group of extremists whose strong sense of mission is matched only by their false sense of certitude.George Soros has written a book that brings a sane, humane, articulate vision to American foreign policy. So the Bush cartel detests Soros for two reasons: He is an articulate visionary who makes the neo-cons running the country seem like bumbling intellectual pygmies -- and because he cares about the needs of others more than he cares about the gluttonous appetite of the Bush "Pioneers."
This distorted view postulates that because we are stronger than others, we must know better and we must have right on our side. That is where religious fundamentalism comes together with market fundamentalism to form the ideology of American supremacy."
In your book, "The Bubble of American Supremacy," you make the analogy that foreign policy under the Bush administration is similar to the bubble dynamics of a stock market phenomenon. Can you explain that a bit more?
George Soros: Stock market bubbles don't grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality -- but reality as distorted by a misconception. Under normal conditions, misconceptions are self-correcting, and the markets tend toward some kind of equilibrium. Occasionally, a misconception is reinforced by a trend prevailing in reality, and that is when a boom-bust process gets under way. Eventually the gap between reality and its false interpretation becomes unsustainable, and the bubble bursts.
In financial markets, the reversal is often catastrophic. For instance, look at the Internet bubble. There was a surge of investment. But that proved to be overinvestment, without regard for realistic considerations. Investment increased rapidly, and then became unsustainable... expectations became unattainable. Then the trend reversed.
Now look at the ideology of American supremacy. It has a solid foundation in reality; namely, the United States is the dominant power in the world. The current government believes the United States ought to use this dominant position to impose its will on the world. That is the misconception. This approach is not what made America great. America did not arrive at its dominant position by imposing its will on the world. But the confluence of a bunch of ideologues in Washington with the September 11 attack allowed this theory to gain acceptance and to become the ideology that guided the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks.
It led to the Bush Doctrine, which, as I explain in the book, is based on two pillars: maintaining military superiority globally -- in every region of the world -- and the right to take preemptive military action. The Bush Doctrine was put to practical test in Iraq, and that's when it went too far. The decision to go to war in Iraq represents the lack of -- or the suspension of -- the deliberative, openly debated process that has been at the core of American democracy. After Sept. 11, Bush wrapped himself in the flag. He could not be criticized without the critic being branded unpatriotic. This lack of political process that allowed the administration to go off the rails -- demonstrated by its attack on Iraq.
You described the phenomenon of the bubble in the economic markets, particularly the stock market, and then the collapse. You indicate this somewhat in your book, but could you explain -- what is the logical result of the bubble approach, the might-makes-right approach now and the Bush Doctrine? What do you foresee happening when that bubble collapses?
George Soros: If the misconception survives the collapse, it is reinforced. If it doesn't survive, then a correction ensues. If Bush survives the Iraq invasion and is reelected, then the misconceptions that have guided him in the first term are reinforced.
This is why I consider the forthcoming election so important, because if we endorse the Bush Doctrine, then we have to accept the consequences, i.e. hostility and resentment toward the United States throughout the world. If we reject the Bush Doctrine in November, then we can write it off as a temporary aberration.
When you look at the history of the United States, we have had many temporary aberrations -- the internment of the Japanese Americans in the Second World War, the McCarthy era, Watergate, and so on. We went on to greater and better things. If we now reject Bush, I think we can resume our place in the world as a powerful but peace-loving nation. If we endorse him by giving him another four years, then we are losing ourselves to something that I find extremely scary.
I think that we might end up in a permanent state of war, because the war against terror -- it doesn't need to come to an end. The Bush approach facilitates terrorism, re-energizing itself by creating more terrorists.
You described in the appendix of your book something that's been key to your moral center and your political perspective -- the "Open Society" concept. And there's a sentence here I want to read to you, on page 195. "An open society calls itself open to improvement. It is based on the recognition that people have divergent views and interests, and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth." In the short section in which you describe your definition of the open society -- which again seems essential in your other writings and speeches about your view of democracy -- you describe the role model of American democracy, at least in our opinion, as it should be viewed around the world, and as it should be offered to other people. Not imposed upon them, we should note, but offered to them, as you propose in this book.
Why would the Bush administration, which says that it champions democracy, be so hostile to you and find you such a threat, when what you articulate at the core is the export of a true and voluntary and open democratic concept to other countries?
George Soros: Well, they consider me a threat. Oddly enough, we both recognize that America has a special role in the world -- that being a powerful nation brings with it the responsibilities of leadership. The difference is that the supremacists believe that "might is right," and since America is mighty, the American way is the only way and the rest of the world must follow. My position is that America is great precisely because it is an open society, and an open society recognizes that nobody is the ultimate arbiter -- and that we may be wrong at times, even if we are powerful. We must be open to criticism and respect divergent and different views and interests.
Now we both take our lead from the Declaration of Independence. It starts with the statement "We consider these truths to be self-evident." The supremacists start from that initial statement, and they believe that they're in possession of the ultimate truth, self-evident truth...and a certain set of intractable principles that follow. That is a fundamentalist position.
The open society view is that the freedom and a division of powers, and all the democratic institutions are needed exactly because nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. And that leads to the concept of human rights, which is alien to the Bush administration.
Let's look at Iraq and play devil's advocate for a moment. Despite the proven lies about why we went in there -- specifically, as most recently revealed once again by David Kay, the lies about weapons of mass destruction -- the Bush administration keeps falling back on that it was still right to displace Saddam Hussein and allow Iraq to become a democratic country. What is wrong with the concept, as the way they followed that through?
George Soros: This stumps me really. I find the idea that you can introduce democracy by military force a very quaint idea. Moreover, if I wanted to choose a testing ground for doing it, Iraq would be the last nation I would choose. I feel that this is sort of a subterfuge for invading Iraq, where we have other motives, and those motives really undermine the effort to promote an open society and democracy.
Now, I'm delighted that Saddam has been toppled, and he has been captured. I think that one of the great, unsolved problems of our global political system is: How do you deal with the likes of Saddam? In the book, I discuss at length what could be done about the Saddams of the world. The invasion of Iraq, however, makes it more difficult to solve this problem.
One of the underlying assumptions that we make at BuzzFlash, and that you make in your book, about the might-makes-right theory, is that ultimately, as appealing as it may sound to many Americans who say, "well, we have a President who's standing up for us because he's going out and shooting the bad guys" and so forth, is that it is the wrong strategy. In your book, you bring up a concept of constructive intervention. Can you flesh out that concept a little?
George Soros: Basically, we have certain lopsidedness in our globalized world. We have global markets -- which make us extremely interdependent -- so that what goes on within individual countries is of consequence to us all. But our political arrangements remain based on the sovereignty of states, a principle that rejects intervening in the internal affairs of other countries.
Most of the poverty and misery in the world is due to bad government, lack of democracy, weak states, internal strife and so on. We do need to intervene, to improve political and economic conditions inside countries that have bad governments, where people are suffering.
One way of doing this, without violating sovereignty, is through constructive actions -- reinforcements and incentives for countries that are moving in the right direction, toward an open society, a market economy, et cetera. That is what I'm advocating. I'm advocating preventive action of a constructive nature. And I would use military force only as the very last resort, when nothing else works.
Now you have become personally engaged in this year's political campaign, providing MoveOn.org with funds, for example. Ed Gillespie, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has personally attacked you for doing that, as have many other sorts of spokespersons for the Bush administration. Do you think they regard you as a betrayer of your class, because you're wealthy and you're not siding with the Republicans?
George Soros: Before I answer that question, I just want to continue a little bit on the previous one because -
George Soros: In my foundation work, I have been engaged in many of these constructive actions, some of which have worked, and some of which haven't. I develop this idea of constructive intervention at some length in the book. This isn't just word. It's born out of practical experience.
And you have a large network of foundations related to the open society concept.
George Soros: Right, I discuss this in the book in greater detail. Now, coming back to your question about why the Bush administration has targeted me. It's in order to discourage me and others from actively opposing the election of President Bush. I think that the excuses they offer for their criticisms are disingenuous, because I am not doing anything that they are not doing on a larger scale.
What do you mean by that?
George Soros: I am supporting so-called 527 organizations, especially America Coming Together, a voter registration and mobilization effort and the MoveOn.org Voter Fund. I didn't create these organizations. They were there. And I have contributed to them. The Republicans actually contribute more to conservative 527s than I have contributed, even though the Bush administration has a huge advantage in collecting direct political contributions with the so-called Pioneers and Rangers who bundle $2,000 contributions into $100,000 or $200,000 packages. The big difference between me and the Pioneers and Rangers is that they are looking for access and special consideration for special interests, corporate interests mostly. I have no such interests; I'm acting on the basis of my support for open society.
This may be a little redundant, but let's put it this way: Here you are, an extremely wealthy American, an immigrant to this country, a model of how America's immigrants have enriched the society and helped it grow economically. You believe in exporting the concept of democracy. You've put great financial wherewithal through your foundations behind the concept of an open society and laying the seeds for democracy around the world. You of course believe in financial markets and open financial markets as we know it in a capitalist society. You believe in entrepreneurship.
That sounds to me like what many Republicans used to espouse. I mean, that is truly what America is supposed to be doing, and yet the Bush administration has really perverted all of that. What went wrong somewhere? The Republicans see what you're doing -- or at least the Bush cartel does -- as hostile. And the Democratic Party embraces it, the ethos of a democracy that leads by example. Why is that such a threat to the current Republican Party leadership?
George Soros: I think that the Republican Party has been captured by a group of extremists who believe that they are in possession of the ultimate truth, and who don't believe in the system of democracy as we know it.
In general, our system of democracy has been based on two parties competing for the center. Today, one of the two major parties has been pushed to an extremist position and that has shifted the entire discourse very far in their direction. This has really brought into question the survival of open society in the United States. Now the situation may not be as dire as it sounds, because it is in the nature of an open society that it is always endangered. In the end, it's up to the electorate to protect our open society, and I am confident that that will happen. Since the large majority of people are not extremists, they will reject an extremist ideology.
Focusing on that, what, in the Bush administration extremism, makes them reject a person who's done what you've done? You're a person who gives of yourself and your fortune toward democracy, the free market system, creativity and entrepreneurialism -- 99.9 percent of Americans would say that is wonderful; that is what America stands for. Why do the extremists in the Bush administration say that there's something wrong with that -- and something wrong with George Soros? You back up what you're fighting for with financial support and give of yourself, even though you just get political grief for it.
George Soros: Yes, but they describe me as some kind of a dangerous extremist, which is totally false, and which reflects their ideology, not mine. Let me just give one example. They have said that I've called Bush a Nazi. I didn't call Bush a Nazi. I wouldn't call Bush a Nazi because I know the difference between a totalitarian regime and a democracy.
You personally fled the Nazis.
George Soros: Right. This is from personal experience. What I said was that when Bush says that those who are not with us are against us, I'm alarmed and I'm reminded of the Germans. That is not calling Bush a Nazi. However, the fact that they use this to make the accusation is exactly what alarms me about them. They have little regard for the truth.
Thank you, George.
George Soros: It's been a pleasure.
This interview originally appeared in BuzzFlash.