May 17 2004

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.