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George Soros in The Atlantic:" American Supremacy resembles a financial bubble..."

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Friends, Edward Shevernadze, the ousted Georgian President has accused US billionaire George Soros of being responsible for financing and manipulating his
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2003

      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.

      Tarek Fatah
      December 2003

      The Bubble of American Supremacy:
      A prominent financier argues that the heedless assertion of American power
      in the world resembles a financial bubble—and 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 freedom—and 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 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.

      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 problems—domestic 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
      escalating violence.

      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 gathering—all 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 countries—Italy, Germany, Great Britain—had 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 leadership—or at least the participation—of the
      United States.

      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.
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