George Soros in The Atlantic:" American Supremacy resembles a financial bubble..."
Edward Shevernadze, the ousted Georgian President has accused US billionaire
George Soros of being responsible for financing and manipulating his ouster.
Now George Soros has sets his sights on George Bush and has stated he will
fund the defeat of Dubya. Let us see how this challenge unfolds. In the mean
time, Soros has written this piece for the Atlantic Magazine where he hints
the bubble bursting on US world supremacy.
Read and reflect.
The Bubble of American Supremacy:
A prominent financier argues that the heedless assertion of American power
in the world resembles a financial bubbleand the moment of truth may be
by George Soros
The Atlantic Monthly
It is generally agreed that September 11, 2001, changed the course of
history. But we must ask ourselves why that should be so. How could a single
event, even one involving 3,000 civilian casualties, have such a
far-reaching effect? The answer lies not so much in the event itself as in
the way the United States, under the leadership of President George W. Bush,
responded to it.
Admittedly, the terrorist attack was historic in its own right. Hijacking
fully fueled airliners and using them as suicide bombs was an audacious
idea, and its execution could not have been more spectacular. The
destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center made a symbolic
statement that reverberated around the world, and the fact that people could
watch the event on their television sets endowed it with an emotional impact
that no terrorist act had ever achieved before. The aim of terrorism is to
terrorize, and the attack of September 11 fully accomplished this objective.
Even so, September 11 could not have changed the course of history to the
extent that it has if President Bush had not responded to it the way he did.
He declared war on terrorism, and under that guise implemented a radical
foreign-policy agenda whose underlying principles predated the tragedy.
Those principles can be summed up as follows: International relations are
relations of power, not law; power prevails and law legitimizes what
prevails. The United States is unquestionably the dominant power in the
post-Cold War world; it is therefore in a position to impose its views,
interests, and values. The world would benefit from adopting those values,
because the American model has demonstrated its superiority. The Clinton and
first Bush Administrations failed to use the full potential of American
power. This must be corrected; the United States must find a way to assert
its supremacy in the world.
This foreign policy is part of a comprehensive ideology customarily referred
to as neoconservatism, though I prefer to describe it as a crude form of
social Darwinism. I call it crude because it ignores the role of cooperation
in the survival of the fittest, and puts all the emphasis on competition. In
economic matters the competition is between firms; in international
relations it is between states. In economic matters social Darwinism takes
the form of market fundamentalism; in international relations it is now
leading to the pursuit of American supremacy.
Not all the members of the Bush Administration subscribe to this ideology,
but neoconservatives form an influential group within it. They publicly
called for the invasion of Iraq as early as 1998. Their ideas originated in
the Cold War and were further elaborated in the post-Cold War era. Before
September 11 the ideologues were hindered in implementing their strategy by
two considerations: George W. Bush did not have a clear mandate (he became
President by virtue of a single vote in the Supreme Court), and America did
not have a clearly defined enemy that would have justified a dramatic
increase in military spending.
September 11 removed both obstacles. President Bush declared war on
terrorism, and the nation lined up behind its President. Then the Bush
Administration proceeded to exploit the terrorist attack for its own
purposes. It fostered the fear that has gripped the country in order to keep
the nation united behind the President, and it used the war on terrorism to
execute an agenda of American supremacy. That is how September 11 changed
the course of history.
Exploiting an event to further an agenda is not in itself reprehensible. It
is the task of the President to provide leadership, and it is only natural
for politicians to exploit or manipulate events so as to promote their
policies. The cause for concern lies in the policies that Bush is promoting,
and in the way he is going about imposing them on the United States and the
world. He is leading us in a very dangerous direction.
The supremacist ideology of the Bush Administration stands in opposition to
the principles of an open society, which recognize that people have
different views and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. The
supremacist ideology postulates that just because we are stronger than
others, we know better and have right on our side. The very first sentence
of the September 2002 National Security Strategy (the President's annual
laying out to Congress of the country's security objectives) reads, "The
great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism
ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedomand a single
sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free
The assumptions behind this statement are false on two counts. First, there
is no single sustainable model for national success. Second, the American
model, which has indeed been successful, is not available to others, because
our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the
global capitalist system, and we are not willing to yield it.
The Bush doctrine, first enunciated in a presidential speech at West Point
in June of 2002, and incorporated into the National Security Strategy three
months later, is built on two pillars: the United States will do everything
in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy; and the United
States arrogates the right to pre-emptive action. In effect, the doctrine
establishes two classes of sovereignty: the sovereignty of the United
States, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations;
and the sovereignty of all other states, which is subject to the will of the
United States. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: all
animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated so starkly; it is shrouded in
doublespeak. The doublespeak is needed because of the contradiction between
the Bush Administration's concept of freedom and democracy and the actual
principles and requirements of freedom and democracy. Talk of spreading
democracy looms large in the National Security Strategy. But when President
Bush says, as he does frequently, that freedom will prevail, he means that
America will prevail. In a free and open society, people are supposed to
decide for themselves what they mean by freedom and democracy, and not
simply follow America's lead. The contradiction is especially apparent in
the case of Iraq, and the occupation of Iraq has brought the issue home. We
came as liberators, bringing freedom and democracy, but that is not how we
are perceived by a large part of the population.
It is ironic that the government of the most successful open society in the
world should have fallen into the hands of people who ignore the first
principles of open society. At home Attorney General John Ashcroft has used
the war on terrorism to curtail civil liberties. Abroad the United States is
trying to impose its views and interests through the use of military force.
The invasion of Iraq was the first practical application of the Bush
doctrine, and it has turned out to be counterproductive. A chasm has opened
between America and the rest of the world.
The size of the chasm is impressive. On September 12, 2001, a special
meeting of the North Atlantic Council invoked Article 5 of the NATO Treaty
for the first time in the alliance's history, calling on all member states
to treat the terrorist attack on the United States as an attack upon their
own soil. The United Nations promptly endorsed punitive U.S. action against
al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. A little more than a year later the United States
could not secure a UN resolution to endorse the invasion of Iraq. Gerhard
Schröder won re-election in Germany by refusing to cooperate with the United
States. In South Korea an underdog candidate was elected to the presidency
because he was considered the least friendly to the United States; many
South Koreans regard the United States as a greater danger to their security
than North Korea. A large majority throughout the world opposed the war on
September 11 introduced a discontinuity into American foreign policy.
Violations of American standards of behavior that would have been considered
objectionable in ordinary times became accepted as appropriate to the
circumstances. The abnormal, the radical, and the extreme have been
redefined as normal. The advocates of continuity have been pursuing a
rearguard action ever since.
To explain the significance of the transition, I should like to draw on my
experience in the financial markets. Stock markets often give rise to a
boom-bust process, or bubble. Bubbles do not grow out of thin air. They have
a basis in realitybut 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.
Exactly when the boom-bust process enters far-from-equilibrium territory can
be established only in retrospect. During the self-reinforcing phase
participants are under the spell of the prevailing bias. Events seem to
confirm their beliefs, strengthening their misconceptions. This widens the
gap and sets the stage for a moment of truth and an eventual reversal. When
that reversal comes, it is liable to have devastating consequences. This
course of events seems to have an inexorable quality, but a boom-bust
process can be aborted at any stage, and the adverse effects can be reduced
or avoided altogether. Few bubbles reach the extremes of the
information-technology boom that ended in 2000. The sooner the process is
aborted, the better.
The quest for American supremacy qualifies as a bubble. The dominant
position the United States occupies in the world is the element of reality
that is being distorted. The proposition that the United States will be
better off if it uses its position to impose its values and interests
everywhere is the misconception. It is exactly by not abusing its power that
America attained its current position.
Where are we in this boom-bust process? The deteriorating situation in Iraq
is either the moment of truth or a test that, if it is successfully
overcome, will only reinforce the trend.
Whatever the justification for removing Saddam Hussein, there can be no
doubt that we invaded Iraq on false pretenses. Wittingly or unwittingly,
President Bush deceived the American public and Congress and rode roughshod
over the opinions of our allies. The gap between the Administration's
expectations and the actual state of affairs could not be wider. It is
difficult to think of a recent military operation that has gone so wrong.
Our soldiers have been forced to do police duty in combat gear, and they
continue to be killed. We have put at risk not only our soldiers' lives but
the combat effectiveness of our armed forces. Their morale is impaired, and
we are no longer in a position to properly project our power. Yet there are
more places than ever before where we might have legitimate need to project
that power. North Korea is openly building nuclear weapons, and Iran is
clandestinely doing so. The Taliban is regrouping in Afghanistan. The costs
of occupation and the prospect of permanent war are weighing heavily on our
economy, and we are failing to address many festering problemsdomestic and
global. If we ever needed proof that the dream of American supremacy is
misconceived, the occupation of Iraq has provided it. If we fail to heed the
evidence, we will have to pay a heavier price in the future.
Meanwhile, largely as a result of our preoccupation with supremacy,
something has gone fundamentally wrong with the war on terrorism. Indeed,
war is a false metaphor in this context. Terrorists do pose a threat to our
national and personal security, and we must protect ourselves. Many of the
measures we have taken are necessary and proper. It can even be argued that
not enough has been done to prevent future attacks. But the war being waged
has little to do with ending terrorism or enhancing homeland security; on
the contrary, it endangers our security by engendering a vicious circle of
The terrorist attack on the United States could have been treated as a crime
against humanity rather than an act of war. Treating it as a crime would
have been more appropriate. Crimes require police work, not military action.
Protection against terrorism requires precautionary measures, awareness, and
intelligence gatheringall of which ultimately depend on the support of the
populations among which the terrorists operate. Imagine for a moment that
September 11 had been treated as a crime. We would not have invaded Iraq,
and we would not have our military struggling to perform police work and
getting shot at.
Declaring war on terrorism better suited the purposes of the Bush
Administration, because it invoked military might; but this is the wrong way
to deal with the problem. Military action requires an identifiable target,
preferably a state. As a result the war on terrorism has been directed
primarily against states harboring terrorists. Yet terrorists are by
definition non-state actors, even if they are often sponsored by states.
The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush Administration cannot be won. On
the contrary, it may bring about a permanent state of war. Terrorists will
never disappear. They will continue to provide a pretext for the pursuit of
American supremacy. That pursuit, in turn, will continue to generate
resistance. Further, by turning the hunt for terrorists into a war, we are
bound to create innocent victims. The more innocent victims there are, the
greater the resentment and the better the chances that some victims will
turn into perpetrators.
The terrorist threat must be seen in proper perspective. Terrorism is not
new. It was an important factor in nineteenth-century Russia, and it had a
great influence on the character of the czarist regime, enhancing the
importance of secret police and justifying authoritarianism. More recently
several European countriesItaly, Germany, Great Britainhad to contend with
terrorist gangs, and it took those countries a decade or more to root them
out. But those countries did not live under the spell of terrorism during
all that time. Granted, using hijacked planes for suicide attacks is
something new, and so is the prospect of terrorists with weapons of mass
destruction. To come to terms with these threats will take some adjustment;
but the threats cannot be allowed to dominate our existence. Exaggerating
them will only make them worse. The most powerful country on earth cannot
afford to be consumed by fear. To make the war on terrorism the centerpiece
of our national strategy is an abdication of our responsibility as the
leading nation in the world. Moreover, by allowing terrorism to become our
principal preoccupation, we are playing into the terrorists' hands. They are
setting our priorities.
A recent Council on Foreign Relations publication sketches out three
alternative national-security strategies. The first calls for the pursuit of
American supremacy through the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action.
It is advocated by neoconservatives. The second seeks the continuation of
our earlier policy of deterrence and containment. It is advocated by Colin
Powell and other moderates, who may be associated with either political
party. The third would have the United States lead a cooperative effort to
improve the world by engaging in preventive actions of a constructive
character. It is not advocated by any group of significance, although
President Bush pays lip service to it. That is the policy I stand for.
The evidence shows the first option to be extremely dangerous, and I believe
that the second is no longer practical. The Bush Administration has done too
much damage to our standing in the world to permit a return to the status
quo. Moreover, the policies pursued before September 11 were clearly
inadequate for dealing with the problems of globalization. Those problems
require collective action. The United States is uniquely positioned to lead
the effort. We cannot just do anything we want, as the Iraqi situation
demonstrates, but nothing much can be done in the way of international
cooperation without the leadershipor at least the participationof the
Globalization has rendered the world increasingly interdependent, but
international politics is still based on the sovereignty of states. What
goes on within individual states can be of vital interest to the rest of the
world, but the principle of sovereignty militates against interfering in
their internal affairs. How to deal with failed states and oppressive,
corrupt, and inept regimes? How to get rid of the likes of Saddam? There are
too many such regimes to wage war against every one. This is the great
unresolved problem confronting us today.
I propose replacing the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action with
preventive action of a constructive and affirmative nature. Increased
foreign aid or better and fairer trade rules, for example, would not violate
the sovereignty of the recipients. Military action should remain a last
resort. The United States is currently preoccupied with issues of security,
and rightly so. But the framework within which to think about security is
collective security. Neither nuclear proliferation nor international
terrorism can be successfully addressed without international cooperation.
The world is looking to us for leadership. We have provided it in the past;
the main reason why anti-American feelings are so strong in the world today
is that we are not providing it in the present.