Problems with American Supremacy (Part 1)

George Soros has written an incredible book called The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power. It’s actually two books in one: Part 1 is A Critical View and Part 2 is A Constructive View.

Soros starts of by clearly explaining the Bush Doctrine. “First, the United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy and, second, the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action. Taken together, these two pillars support 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 Bush doctrine. This is reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (p.11).

Soros links the Bush Doctrine to the 1997 neoconservatives statement of principles of the Project for the New American Century signed by a host of familiar characters including Elliott Abrams, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

The theme is clear and incredibly well-reasoned (this should not be a surprise to anyone that has either followed or read other writings of George Soros). Soros states that “Under the Bush administration, the United States has also become a victim-turned-perpetrator, although the American public would be loath to recognize it. On September 11, America was the victim of a heinous crime and the whole world expressed spontaneous and genuine sympathy. Since then, the war on terrorism has claimed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than have the attacks on the World Trade Center. That comparison is rarely made at home: American lives are valued differently than the lives of foreigners, but the distinction is less obvious to people abroad.” (p.22)

Soros then makes his case in strong, clear, and straightforward detail. While I can imagine that someone could come up with an argument against it, I can’t.

As you would expect from his warm up, he concludes strongly with “All in all, at no other time has America’s position declined as dramatically in as short a period as it has since George W. Bush became president. The swing in our international position matches the swing in our budget deficit. Whatever the flaws in the ideology that has guided the Bush administration, the practical results have been nothing short of disasterous. … The forthcoming elections provide an excellent opportunity to deflate the bubble of American supremacy. But it is not enough to defeat President Bush. America must also adopt a different vision for its role in the world. The rethinking has to be quite profound. It is not only the supremacist ideology of the New American Century that needs to be rejected. There were shortcomings in the policies followed by the United States prior to September 11; otherwise, they could not have ben carried to the extremes that have been reached under the Bush administration. What a more positive vision for America’s role in the world entails will be the subject of the second part of this book.” (p.74-75)

This is what I love about Soros. It’s easy to be critical on a grand stage (and he’s earned the right through his amazing work with the Open Society Institute to get up on his soapbox), but Soros doesn’t stop there. Part 2 (which I’ll comment on later) lays out his view of the constructive action that the United States should take to repair the situation we have created for ourselves.

  • Dave Jilk

    I have not read the book, but Soros’ questioning of the ideology as stated is complete nonsense, whether it is a “Bush Doctrine” or not. Let’s consider the alternatives:

    1. “The United States will not do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy.” In other words, if another country threatens to exceed our military supremacy in some way, we should not necessarily respond to this. Let’s see… despite the fact that the United States makes plenty of mistakes in the use of its military power, is it better for us, and frankly for the world, that we have military supremacy, or that some other country does? Do we trust other countries more than ourselves to use that military power wisely? Have we not invested tremendous blood, sweat, tears, and brainpower in building our ability to defend our country, and given the state of the world today, was that some kind of error?
    2. “The United States waives a right to preemptive action.” How can anyone with an interest in our freedom and lives argue this? We have been attacked, will be attacked, and know that these attacks are supported in an essential way by other sovereign states. We support Israel, which clearly utilizes preemptive attacks, maintained a policy of pre-emptive attack during the Cold War through MAD (which, for all its flaws, seems to have resulted in our continued existence) over liberal and conservative Presidents alike. Preemptive action must be used cautiously and wisely, but that doesn’t mean that as a sovereign state we should not have a right to use it where we see fit (and to accept the consequences for doing so).

    Further, Soros appears not to understand the concept of “sovereignty.” Indeed, sovereignty does take precedence over international agreements and treaties. That’s part of what the word means. And although it would not be sensible to ignore our international agreements willy-nilly, again because of future consequences, there are nonetheless times when we must do so, just as sometimes an individual must break the law to do what is right. But this is exactly Soros’ problem: if I am not mistaken he is a “one-worlder” who believes that somehow all the people of the world should come together in peace and harmony under one international government. Great plan: people can’t even get along with their spouses, let along Serbs and Croats, Jews and Arabs, Irish Catholics and Protestants… we have to face the reality that people out there hate each other and many of them hate US for exactly that which we value: freedom, life, and wealth of a variety of kinds. If we weaken our defenses and just let things be, they WILL do their best to take those values away from us – to think otherwise is to evade seeing what is happening in the world.

    No, it isn’t the “ideology” that is the problem. It is Bush’s horrible execution of the ideology. His confused reasonings and strategies, his “pragmatism” in attacking one supporter of terrorists (Iraq) and cozying up to probably their most blatant supporter (Saudi Arabia), his “WMD” rationalization for a war that almost certainly is based on vengeance rather than ideology… this is the problem. In the 1988 election, Mike Dukakis said “It’s not about ideology, it’s about competence.” As he learned, it’s about both. In Dubya’s case, if his ideology is as Soros states it, then he’s stating an obvious ideology for anyone who values their life and their freedom. It is competence where he is falling down horrendously.

    Soros further shows his confusion by comparing the innocent civilians in Afghanistan killed in conflict with those in New York and Washington. The issue is not whether American lives are more “valuable” than those in other countries, it is who is to blame for the deaths. The Americans killed on September 11 were killed intentionally, in cold blood. The innocents killed in Afghanistan were killed as a result of our attempt to defend ourselves. We are not to blame for the deaths in either case, it is the original perpetrators who are to blame, and those who defended them. Just as the police are not to blame (assuming reasonable care) when they kill a hostage by accident, neither are we to blame when the Taliban put their civilians at risk by protecting the terrorists we seek. Instead of seeing that the US has sunk to the level of the terrorists, we should see that the Afghan deaths ADD TO the horror of what has been committed by the terrorists.

  • http://madeleines.typepad.com Jerry

    The atacks against Soros are the thing that’s insane.
    Take a look at this link. Media Matters, by the way, is terrific.

  • Dave Jilk

    Conspiracy theories are a good indicator of ineptitude on the part of both the theorist and the alleged conspirator.

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