Friday, February 13, 2004
Soros and the Bush bubble
Posted by David Smith at 10:51 AM
Category: David Smith's other articles

The most commented-on piece on this site continues to be "George Bush's scorched-earth economic policy", posted in November. I don't know what reactiion I'll get to this review of George Soros's The Bubble of American Supremacy:

George Soros is known in Britain as the man who brought down the Bank of England. By aggressively betting against the pound in 1992, he used the might of the markets against Britain’s fast-disappearing currency reserves, changed the face of British politics by destroying the the Tory party’s reputation for economic competence, and made a lot of money in the process.

In his new book his aim is more directly political, and it is clearly stated. He wants to be the man who brings down George W.Bush and is spending several million dollars to do so. This book, a plemic, is part of that process. “I have made it my primary objective to persuade the American public to reject President Bush in the forthcoming elections,” he writes. Does he make a convincing argument for them to do so?

Soros’s argument is straightforward. When Bush campaigned for election four years ago, he promised a “humble” foreign policy. There were doubts about whether he would extend his gaze beyond America’s shores, so domestically-orientated did he seem. Instead we have the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive action against foreign states. September 11, of course, provided the trigger for the transition between the two policies. It also, which worries Soros as a Jew who grew up in Hungary during the Second World war, sparked a dangerous “you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” mentality.

Soros has several criticisms of the Bush doctrine. The argument that the neo-cons hijacked September 11 and used it to pursue their Iraq agenda is not original but it is forcefully stated. He goes further. The Bush administration has deliberately exaggerated the terrorist threat for its own purposes. Few object when suspects are rounded up and held without charge. The climate of fear, he says, achieves as much as the terriorists themselves could hope to. And, instead of pursuing a genuine war on terror, it has used Al-Qaeda as an excuse for for fighting conventional wars, most notably to settle old scores with Iraq.

None of this is new, as Soros would no doubt admit. This is a short book, written in a measured way, but unlikely to make much impact against more strident, and bestselling critiques, from Michael Moore, Molly Ivins and Kevin Phillips.

Soros’s particular gripe is that the Bush doctrine has trampled on his vision of open societies. Having worked, and given money, to ensure the delicate flowering of democracy in former communist countries he is affronted by the administration’s determination to impose American values on other countries and by its clumsy nation-building eforts in Iraq.

Why is it a “bubble” of American supremacy? Soros, coming from the financial markets, likens the build-up of America’s current position to the various stages of a stock market bubble. Bubbles, he notes, do not grow out of thin air. Biases build on misconceptions. America, unchecked by another superpower and only slightly constrained by Al-Qaeda, grows its bubble of dominance and supremacy. When does the bubble burst? Soros is unclear. But we will know by November whether he has succeeded.

The Bubble of American Supremacy, By George Soros, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, £12.99.

From The Sunday Times, February 8 2004


"The delicate flowering of Democracy" vs. "the imposition of American values and clumsy nation building in Iraq". Gee, it's no contest, I'll go with the delicate flowering over imposition and clumsy nation building any time.

I'm not sure that ten people if asked to put some meat on these language bones would say anything other than it tastes like chicken. But that's really the point. The ulitmate destination between the delicate flowering of democracy and clumsy nation building is likely the same.

It's an argument over style points on the left. It's an arguement over life and death and the way the world really works on the right.

Posted by: Gary Bezowsky at February 15, 2004 12:37 AM
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