Saturday, February 03, 2007

George Soros and the Neocons

One thing I have grown to dislike about neoconservative ideologues is the pretense that they had some worthwhile ideas about bringing democracy to the Middle East while refusing to deal with the impact of issues likes Abu Ghraib. George Soros, no friend of neoconservatives, is a worthy critic of the Bush Administration and has said some interesting things from time to time; I would quote him more but I'm not always comfortable with his language and analogies. But Steve Clemons of The Washington Note reminds us that methods of helping other countries achieve democracy has existed in several peaceful forms:
Soros is worth something around a couple or few tens of billions of dollars and donates through his charities half a billion dollars a year, most of this to help cultivate civil society development in former Soviet bloc countries. Recently, he has broadened his arena of concerns -- particularly in the area of global warming/climate change and doing something to help shore up global resistance to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He has also invested a lot in trying to help us to get rid of or to get beyond the Bush presidency.

But the right wing hates George Soros. And the NeoCons (on the right or the left) hate him more.

I just don't get it though because he has actually helped change societies successfully and is a hero in much of the world. The necons too have wanted to change the world -- albeit with guns, while Soros did it through education and political and civil institution buildng. One must surmise then that they are both jealous of his success and have a counterproductive obsession with military-driven social change, something that rarely if ever works.

Inattention to the balance between means and ends can have profound consequences as we are witnessing every evening as we watch the news coming out of Iraq. At the end of the day, the neoconservatives are nothing more than what they always were: Cold War intellectual warriors looking for a new fight to exercise their military and foreign policy fantasies on.

As Clemons reminds us, the intellectual neoconservative movement isn't purely a Republican or conservative movement. In his first two years, Bill Clinton had James Woolsey working for him as the head of the CIA; and Woolsey, when it comes to international issues, is sometimes as neoconservative as they come and apparently, if something I read recently is accurate, a Democrat. Few neoconservatives pushed the notion of WMDs in Iraq more than Woolsey, despite evidence to the contrary. I highly recommend reading Scott Ritter more closely. Without question, the Republicans are primarily responsible for the fiasco in Iraq but there are threads going back into the 90s that suggest that both Republicans and Democrats were inattentive to a number of foreign policy issues and how those issues were manipulated in the media (mainly by the Republican Noise Machine) until they became 'conventional wisdom.'

There's no question both sides of the aisle need to do a better job of working together—and working together is important—but a calculated bipartisanship is worthless if it allows—unchallenged—false assertions, false analysis and false stories. I don't think we've heard the end of this saga that more or less began with the fall of the Soviet Union. If we're to understand the failures of our post-Cold War foreign policy, at some point we're going to have to take a look at the years before George W. Bush's failed presidency. I'll leave that for another day—or to someone else.

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