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"Why me must not re-elect George Bush." An appeal from George Soros

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Why me must not re-elect George Bush A Personal message from George Soros Wall Street Journal Advertisement http://www.georgesoros.com/soros_doc_wsj_ad.pdf
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 7, 2004
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      Why me must not re-elect George Bush
      A Personal message from George Soros

      Wall Street Journal Advertisement
      http://www.georgesoros.com/soros_doc_wsj_ad.pdf

      This is the most important election of my lifetime. I have never
      been heavily involved in partisan politics but these are not normal
      times. President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital
      interests and undermining American values. That is why I am
      publishing this message. I have been demonized by the Bush campaign
      but I hope you will give me a hearing.

      WE FACE A VICIOUS CIRCLE OF ESCALATING VIOLENCE

      President Bush ran on the platform of a "humble" foreign policy in
      2000. If we re-elect him now, we endorse the Bush doctrine of
      preemptive action and the invasion of Iraq, and we will have to live
      with the consequences. As I shall try to show, we are facing a
      vicious circle of escalating violence with no end in sight.But if we
      repudiate the Bush policies at the polls, we shall have a better
      chance to regain the respect and support of the world and to break
      the vicious circle.

      I grew up in Hungary, lived through fascism and the Holocaust, and
      then had a foretaste of communism. I learned at an early age how
      important it is what kind of government prevails. I chose America as
      my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and
      an open society. When I had made more money than I needed for myself
      and my family, I set up a foundation to promote the values and
      principles of a free and open society. I started in South Africa in
      1979 and established a foundation in my native country, Hungary, in
      1984 when it was still under communist rule. China, Poland and the
      Soviet Union followed in 1987. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I
      established foundations in practically all the countries of the
      former Soviet empire and later in other parts of the world and in
      the United States. These foundations today spend about 450 million
      dollars a year to promote democracy and open society around the
      world.

      A FULL AND FAIR DISCUSSION IS ESSENTIAL TO A DEMOCRACY

      When George W. Bush was elected president, and particularly after
      September 11, I saw that the values and principles of open society
      needed to be defended at home. September 11 led to a suspension of
      the critical process so essential to a democracy - a full and fair
      discussion of the issues. President Bush silenced all criticism by
      calling it unpatriotic.When he said that "either you are with us, or
      you are with the terrorists," I heard alarm bells ringing. I am
      afraid that he is leading us in a very dangerous direction.We are
      losing the values that have made America great.

      The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was
      such a horrendous event that it required a strong response. But the
      President committed a fundamental error in thinking: the fact that
      the terrorists are manifestly evil does not make whatever counter-
      actions we take automatically good.What we do to combat terrorism
      may also be wrong. Recognizing that we may be wrong is the
      foundation of an open society. President Bush admits no doubt and
      does not base his decisions on a careful weighing of reality. For 18
      months after 9/11 he managed to suppress all dissent.That is how he
      could lead the nation so far in the wrong direction.

      President Bush inadvertently played right into the hands of bin
      Laden. The invasion of Afghanistan was justified: that was where bin
      Laden lived and al Qaeda had its training camps. The invasion of
      Iraq was not similarly justified. It was President Bush's unintended
      gift to bin Laden. War and occupation create innocent victims. We
      count the body bags of American soldiers; there have been more than
      1000 in Iraq.

      The rest of the world also looks at the Iraqis who get killed daily.
      There have been 15 times more. Some were trying to kill our
      soldiers; far too many were totally innocent, including many women
      and children. Every innocent death helps the terrorists' cause by
      stirring anger against America and bringing them potential recruits.
      Immediately after 9/11 there was a spontaneous outpouring of
      sympathy for us worldwide. It has given way to an equally widespread
      resentment.

      There are many more people willing to risk their lives to kill
      Americans than there were on September 11 and our security, far from
      improving as President Bush claims, is deteriorating. I am afraid
      that we have entered a vicious circle of escalating violence where
      our fears and their rage feed on each other. It is not a process
      that is likely to end any time soon. If we re-elect President Bush
      we are telling the world that we approve his policies - and we shall
      be at war for a long time to come.

      There is a widespread belief that President Bush is making us safe.
      The opposite is true. I realize that what I am saying is bound to be
      unpopular.We are in the grip of a collective misconception induced
      by the trauma of 9/11, and fostered by the Bush administration.

      No politician could say it and hope to get elected. That is why I
      feel obliged to speak out. There is a widespread belief that
      President Bush is making us safe. The opposite is true. President
      Bush failed to finish off bin Laden when he was cornered in
      Afghanistan because he was gearing up to attack Iraq.And the
      invasion of Iraq bred more people willing to risk their lives
      against Americans than we are able to kill - generating the vicious
      circle I am talking about.

      President Bush likes to insist that the terrorists hate us for what
      we are - a freedom loving people - not what we do.Well, he is wrong
      on that. He also claims that the torture scenes at Abu Ghraib prison
      were the work of a few bad apples. He is wrong on that too. They
      were part of a system of dealing with detainees put in place by
      Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and our troops in Iraq are paying
      the price.

      How could President Bush convince people that he is good for our
      security, better than John Kerry? By building on the fears generated
      by the collapse of the twin towers and fostering a sense of
      danger. At a time of peril, people rally around the flag and
      President Bush has exploited this. His campaign is based on the
      assumption that people do not really care about the truth and they
      will believe practically anything if it is repeated often enough,
      particularly by a President at a time of war.

      There must be something wrong with us if we fall for it. For
      instance, some 40% of the people still believe that Saddam Hussein
      was connected with 9/11 - although it is now definitely established
      by the 9/11 Commission, set up by the President and chaired by a
      Republican, that there was no connection. I want to shout from the
      roof tops:

      "Wake up America. Don't you realize that we are being misled?"

      President Bush has used 9/11 to further his own agenda which has
      very little to do with fighting terrorism. There was an influential
      group within the Bush administration led by Vice President Dick
      Cheney that was itching to invade Iraq long before 9/11. The
      terrorist attack gave them their chance. If you need a tangible
      proof why President Bush does not deserve to be re-elected, consider
      Iraq.

      IRAQ WAR MISCONCEIVED FROM THE START

      The war in Iraq was misconceived from start to finish - if it has a
      finish. It is a war of choice, not necessity, in spite of what
      President Bush says. The arms inspections and sanctions were
      working. In response to American pressure, the United Nations had
      finally agreed on a strong stand. As long as the inspectors were on
      the ground, Saddam Hussein could not possibly pose a threat to our
      security.

      We could have declared victory but President Bush insisted on going
      to war.

      We went to war on false pretences. The real reasons for going into
      Iraq have not been revealed to this day. The weapons of mass
      destruction could not be found, and the connection with al Qaeda
      could not be established. President Bush then claimed that we went
      to war to liberate the people of Iraq. All my experience in fostering
      democracy and open society has taught me that democracy cannot be
      imposed by military means. And, Iraq would be the last place I would
      chose for an experiment in introducing democracy - as the current
      chaos demonstrates.

      Of course, Saddam was a tyrant, and of course Iraqis - and the rest
      of the world - can rejoice to be rid of him. But Iraqis now hate the
      American occupation.We stood idly by while Baghdad was ransacked. As
      the occupying power, we had an obligation to maintain law and order,
      but we failed to live up to it. If we had cared about the people of
      Iraq we should have had more troops available for the occupation
      than we needed for the invasion.We should have provided protection
      not only for the oil ministry but also the other ministries,museums
      and hospitals. Baghdad and the country's other cities were destroyed
      after we occupied them.When we encountered resistance, we employed
      methods that alienated and humiliated the population.The way we
      invaded homes, and the way we treated prisoners generated resentment
      and rage. Public opinion condemns us worldwide.

      SITUATION IN IRAQ IS DIRE, DESPITE BUSH CAMPAIGN SPIN

      The number of flipflops and missteps committed by the Bush
      administration in Iraq far exceeds anything John Kerry can be
      accused of. First we dissolved the Iraqi
      army, then we tried to reconstitute it. First we tried to eliminate
      the Baathists, then we turned to them for help.First we installed
      General Jay Garner to run the country, then we gave it to Paul
      Bremer and when the insurgency became intractable, we installed an
      Iraqi government. The man we chose was a protégé of the CIA with the
      reputation of a strong man - a far cry from democracy. First we
      attacked Falluja over the objections of the Marine commander on the
      ground, then pulled them out when the assault was half-way through,
      again over his objections. "Once you commit, you got to stay
      committed," he said publicly.More recently, we started bombing
      Falluja again.

      President Bush admits no doubt and does not base his decisions on a
      careful weighing of reality. The Bush campaign is trying to put a
      favorable spin on it, but the situation in Iraq is dire. Much of the
      Western part of the country has been ceded to the insurgents. Even
      the so-called Green Zone (a small enclave in the center of Baghdad
      where Americans live and work) is subject to mortar attacks. The
      prospects of holding free and fair elections in January are fast
      receding and civil war looms.

      President Bush received a somber intelligence evaluation in July but
      he has kept it under wraps and failed to level with the electorate.
      Bush's war in Iraq has done untold damage to the United States. It
      has impaired our military power and undermined the morale of our
      armed forces. Before the invasion of Iraq, we could project
      verwhelming power in any part of the world.We cannot do so any more
      because we are bogged down in Iraq. Afghanistan is slipping from our
      control. North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and other countries are
      pursuing nuclear programs with renewed vigor and many other problems
      remain unattended.

      INVASION HAS ENDANGERED OUR SECURITY, AND OUR TROOPS

      By invading Iraq without a second UN resolution, we violated
      international law. By mistreating and even torturing prisoners, we
      violated the Geneva conventions.

      President Bush has boasted that we do not need a permission slip
      from the international community, but our actions have endangered
      our security - particularly the security of our troops. Our troops
      were trained to project overwhelming power. They were not trained
      for occupation duties. Having to fight an insurgency saps their
      morale. Many of our troops return from Iraq with severe trauma and
      other psychological disorders. Sadly, many are also physically
      injured. After Iraq, it will be difficult to recruit people for the
      armed forces and we may have to resort to conscription.

      There are many other policies for which the Bush administration can
      be criticized but none are as important as Iraq. Iraq has cost us
      more than 150 billion dollars so far - an enormous sum. It could
      have been used much better elsewhere. The costs are going to mount
      because it was much easier to get into Iraq than it will be to get
      out of there.

      President Bush has been taunting John Kerry to explain how he would
      do things differently in Iraq. John Kerry has responded that he
      would have done everything differently and he would be in a better
      position to extricate us than the man who got us in there. But it
      won't be easy for him either, because we are caught in a quagmire.

      IRAQ QUAGMIRE PREDICTED BY MILITARY AND OTHER EXPERTS

      It is a quagmire that many predicted. I predicted it in my book, The
      Bubble of American Supremacy. I was not alone: top military and
      diplomatic experts desperately
      warned the President not to invade Iraq.But he ignored their
      experienced advice.

      He suppressed the critical process. The discussion about Iraq
      remains stilted even during this presidential campaign because of
      the notion that any criticism of our Commander-in-Chief puts our
      troops at risk. But this is Bush's war, and he ought to be held
      responsible for it. It's the wrong war, fought the wrong way. Step
      back for a moment from the cacophony of the election campaign and
      reflect: who got us into this mess? In spite of his Texas swagger,
      George W. Bush does not qualify to serve as our Commander-in-Chief.

      There is a lot more to be said on the subject and I have said it in
      my book, The Bubble of American Supremacy, now available in
      paperback. I hope you will read it.

      You can download the chapter on the Iraqi quagmire free from
      www.GeorgeSoros.com. If you find my arguments worth considering,
      please share this message with your friends.

      I would welcome your comments at www.GeorgeSoros.com. I am eager to
      engage in a critical discussion because the stakes are so high.
      —-----------------------------------
      George Soros is Chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC.He was born in
      Budapest in 1930. He survived the Nazi occupation and fled communist
      Hungary in 1947 for
      England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics.He
      then settled in the United States, where he accumulated a large
      fortune through an international investment fund he founded and
      managed.Mr. Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979,
      when he began providing funds to help black students attend Capetown
      University in apartheid South Africa.He has established a network of
      philanthropic organizations active in more than 50 countries around
      the world. These organizations are dedicated to promoting the values
      of democracy and open society. The foundation network spends about
      $450 million annually to promote these goals. Mr. Soros is the
      author of eight books including, most recently, The Bubble of
      American Supremacy: The Costs of Bush's War in Iraq. His articles
      and essays on politics, society, and economics regularly appear in
      major newspapers and magazines around the world.
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