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The Bubble Of American Supremacy: Correcting The Misuse Of American Power Hardcover – December 15, 2003
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Proving that exorbitant wealth and allegiance to the Republican Party do not necessarily go hand in hand, billionaire George Soros offers a sharp critique of the neoconservative philosophy that he sees guiding the George W. Bush administration. In The Bubble of American Supremacy, Soros warns that American efforts to be the ultimate global superpower will not only be unsuccessful but will make America and the world infinitely more unstable. Bush and company, he says, have callously used the events of September 11th for their own political gain and misled the world about the threat posed by Iraq. In previous American presidential elections, billionaires Steve Forbes and Ross Perot have tried to run for president themselves to address the country's problems, but Soros--while no less zealous about his convictions--sees his role a little differently. "I have made it my primary objective to persuade the American public to reject President Bush in the upcoming elections," he writes, "We have been deceived." The arguments he makes and the evidence he presents are interesting enough, although there really isn't anything here that hasn't been written in scores of other anti-Bush books released around the same time. What sets Soros's book apart from all the others is the recurring presence of Soros himself, frequently citing previous books he's written, speeches he's made, and highlights of his career. The pronoun "I" is never far away. Granted, it's been an interesting career; his financial success coupled with his passionate political convictions would make for a terrific memoir, but at times in this book Soros's ego gets almost comically in the way. Referring to his long-held support for open societies, he says this philosophy "could almost be called the Soros doctrine" only to renounce propriety over it a page later. Soros is a capable writer and a clear thinker, and he ably articulates his views. Readers interested in criticisms of Bush and company have several options but readers interested in George Soros will find plenty to satisfy them here. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
Soros has made it his "primary objective to persuade the American public to reject President Bush in the forthcoming elections." This aspiration is immediately clear from the outset of his new book. The founder of Soros Fund Management (and author of The Crisis of Global Capitalism, etc.) gives sweeping critiques of the current administration and shows how its post-9/11 policy has pointed the country in a direction that he believes will lead to ruin. The book's major shortcoming is that it fails to add anything particularly new to this project, and is not always convincing. It's not clear, for instance, why a pact of signatories to the Warsaw Declaration for the development of democracy would be more effective than the U.N. in getting nations to put the common good above national interest. To his credit, Soros accurately presents the important dimensions of the "Bush Doctrine" foreign policy and its vision of America's role in the world. He is able to incorporate his expertise in areas of international finance and to give some interesting and unique insights, such as seeing American supremacy as the boom part of a boom-bust cycle. But neither simple explication nor periodic nuggets of wisdom make this a particularly good read. Overall, the book is clear, but it will do little to persuade an attentive American audience that they should vote Bush out in 2004.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
Just as Mr. Soros has spent $500 Million a year for more than a decade trying to relieve suffering and increase opportunity any where in the world that needs it, he has also spent many hours writing a series of books that explain a clear way to look at future needs and the tools to develop the International Policies that will meet those needs.
I can't recommend this or any other of Mr. Soros efforts strongly enough, you'll never look at the world the same way again.
Soros's thesis is that US hegemony has gone too far. Our pernicious methods have all but guaranteed exponential growth in international problems unless we do something to curtail our powerful military actions. The response to 9/11 should have been more of a police investigation --not a military action. On these points Soros is absolutely correct. Epuration of Hussein is something upon which Soros seems to be indifferent; but he offers a very good analysis of the Bush administration's failure to adequately understand, plan, and accomplish a "war on terror." The Bush administration has failed miserably due to an emotional reaction driven by fundamentalist beliefs. The result is a tremendously misguided use of our military overseas. At home, civil liberties and social engineering in America have become easy targets for the Bush administration's didactic homeland security thugs.
Sadly, Soros readily accepts the Democratic party line and its candidates as an oscitant alternative. While he is somewhat critical of the United Nations he is all too ready to accept the UN as a legitimate governing body over international issues. The fact is Democrats will just throw my hard earned money down a rat hole faster then the Republicans. The UN is a corrupt joke with absolutely no legitimacy. Furthermore, Soros offers no criticism toward others in the G7. In fact, he fawns over the European nations morphing into a French apologist half way through the book. Students of history know that the Europeans created much of this gerrymandered mess and now we are forced to deal with the aftermath.
Soros rejects the notion of the moral imperative. Instead Soros is motivated by the Popperian idea that absolute right and wrong cannot be known. He calls it the "human uncertainty principle." (197) Based on that Soros humbly suggests that he may be wrong, but he is willing to take one for the team in an effort to open up the dialogue and stop the insanity. While I admire his effort and do agree that the Bush administration is clearly out of control, moral imperatives do exist and do not necessarily have to be based on religious foundations. Soros instead suggests a more subversive methodology for achieving open societies and ridding the world of dictators and other leaders who stand in the way. His critique of the US policy toward the states of the former Soviet Union, for example, is right on the money. However his attack on a state's right to protect sovereignty is way off base and he loses a lot of points by constantly revisiting this idea. Cultural differences alone make this an insane idea, let alone the multitude of metaphors acted upon as truth in the world.
I think George Soros is a good American who means well. He cares deeply about nurturing freedom and open societies. He understands that we are clearly playing a zero sum game in Iraq. This book offers an excellent critique of the failures built into US policy. He likens it to a bubble economic condition where the result can be "quite catastrophic, similar to a bubble's bursting." (203) Soros offers some weak solutions in chapter seven, but I think his goal is less solution based and more focused on stopping the freight train to destruction. Soros does underestimate the fact the there are still really bad people in the world that need to be eliminated before his utopia can be realized. Strangely, Soros offers no detail on how to finance his ideas beyond suggesting that the US tax payer continue to foot the bill. Wrong answer George. While this book is by no means a quietus (Soros even says it is not its function), it is worth your time regardless of your politics. The Republicrats have become homogenized talking heads and we need more meaningful rhetoric like the material presented in this book.
I take one star off because he is not putting his money where his books says it needs to be. I begin with this comment, actually my last observation, to set the stage for the other comments below, all of which revolve around the point he makes in the beginning, but a point that he is doing nothing to fund the correction of: "The gap in perceptions between America and the rest of the world has never been wider." This is correct, but the $15M plus that he has donated to ACT and other minor organizations is not funding the re-education of America, it is funding minor-league politicization and mobilization likely to fail given the 20 year neglect of the Democratic precincts, and the fact that neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties are capable of assembling a true informed majority.
His early analysis in the book, on the dangers of supremacist ideologies and the curious alliance between religious fundamentalists (zealots who know nothing of the real world) and market fundamentalists (immoral capitalists who care nothing of the real world) is spot on. He is articulate and effective in writing about the manner in which this extremist ideology, "we are always right, they are always wrong", in endangering not just American ideals, but American survival.
He touches on but fails to capitalize on the urgency of splitting the moderate Republicans (I am one of them) from the extremist base, perhaps by funding the foundation of a new party, the Fiscal Conservatives (moderate Republicans and Southern conservative Democrats).
His chapter on the "war" on terror and his condemnation of treating terrorism as a war, with the wrong tools, wrong approach, and wrong effects from our well-intentioned but uninformed behavior is also powerful in its common sense. He notes that this "war" (I have called it a six-front hundred-year war that *we* started in reaction to 9-11, without thinking strategically) has killed more civilian bystanders than the attack on the World Trade Center, and simultaneously super-charged anti-American sentiment around the world--including among the British!
He is subtly but scathingly critical of Congress for abdicating its responsibility to balance the power of the Executive, and documents the careless manner in which the Patriot Act was brought about (Bush can also confiscate pleasure boats with Cuban charts on thsm).
The middle of the book examines, with a capitalist's critical eye, the wasted hundreds of billions on Iraq, and how that money might have been better used to address the complex emergencies in Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia (one might also add the tri-border region in Latin America, which is about to explode).
Soros is, I believe, in error, when he concludes that the forthcoming election provides an opportunity to deflate the bubble of American supremacy. First off, the Republicans are taking the election seriously, the Democrats are not. Second off, the Kerry team has proven completely incapable of devising a shadow government, a coalition cabinet, and a balanced budget within which to make policy deals with moderate Republicans and others such as Independents and Greens.
In the next section Soros illuminates with a mix of previously state ideas, i.e. the political institutions needed to protect the common good have not kept up with the marketplace (Kissinger agrees), and new thoughts, among which I found the emphasis on restoring the definition of sovereignty to mean sovereignty of the people, not the state, to be the most compelling and also the most consistent with the many other books I have reviewed for Amazon, among which Jonathan Schell's book, "Unconquerable World" stands out.
Soros' other remarkable idea, which I think he should seek with $10M if he can spare the change, is that there is an urgent need for a D6 of developing countries to counter the G8 of First World industrial powers. He identifies Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and South Africa. I would add China and Argentina and make it D8 instead.
Finally, he concludes with a strong indictment of how foreign aid is administered today, less than 45% of it actual reaching needy recipients (versus 85% for his own programs), he touches on the importance of ensuring that the people, not the corrupt elite, get the benefits of any nation's natural resources, and that only an open society, in which citizens can and *must* (are *required to*) think for themselves, is a potentially prosperous and secure society.
So, concluding this review, I have to say, Bravo, Soros, but why isn't your money where your book suggests it should be? Let's Talk, America, for example, or the National Budget Simulation Project, or the Co-Intelligence Institute, or any of hundreds of bottom-up efforts to shed light on public policy, to create public intelligence that can both inform citizens and hold officials accountable for betraying the public trust--why are they not being noticed by Soros?
American has been radicalized by the Bush Administration, which will probably win in 2004 and further radicalize both America and the world. There will be multiple variations of 9-11, including at least one hijacked Pakistani submarine firing a missile into Australia. We don't need mobilization, we need education. We need a National Intelligence Council in the "seven tribes, seven standards, seven issues" sense, one that relies on open sources of information to ensure that every American understands what is at stake here, and how their ignorance not only feeds terrorism, it feeds the supremacist ideology of neo-conservativism that is terrorism's best friend.
Soros has come full circle, and now stands with Thomas Jefferson, who said "A Nation's best defense is an informed citizenry." So, when does school start?
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