The Billionaire Trader Has Become Eastern Europe's Uncrowned King and the Prophet of "The Open Society". but Open to What? (Profile)
Clark, Neil, New Statesman (1996)
George Soros is angry. In common with 90 per cent of the world's population, the Man Who Broke the Bank of England has had enough of President Bush and his foreign policy. In a recent article in the Financial Times, Soros condemned the Bush administration's policies on Iraq as "fundamentally wrong" -- based as they were on a "false ideology that US might gave it the right to impose its will on the world".
Wow! Has one of the world's richestmen--the archetypal amoral capitalist who made billions out of the Far Eastern currency crash of 1997 and who last year was fined $2m for insider trading by a court in France -- seen the light in his old age? (He is 72.) Should we pop the champagne corks and toast his conversion?
Not before asking what really motivates him. Soros likes to portray himself as an outsider, an independent-minded Hungarian emigre and philosopher-pundit who stands detached from the US military-industrial complex. But take a look at the board members of the NGOs he organises and finances. At Human Rights Watch, for example, there is Morton Abramowitz, US assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research from 1985-89, and now a fellow at the interventionist Council on Foreign Relations; ex-ambassador Warren Zimmerman (whose spell in Yugoslavia coincided with the break-up of that country); and Paul Goble, director of communications at the CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (which Soros also funds). Soros's International Crisis Group boasts such "independent" luminaries as the former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Richard Allen, as well as General Wesley Clark, once Nato supreme allied commander for Europe. The group's vice-chairman is the former congressman Stephen Solarz, once described as "the Israel lobby's chief legislative tactician on Capitol Hill" and a signatory, along with the likes of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to a notorious letter to President Clinton in 1998 calling for a "comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime".
Take a look also at Soros's business partners. At the Carlyle Group, where he has invested more than $100m, they include the former secretary of state James Baker and the erstwhile defence secretary Frank Carlucci, George Bush Sr and, until recently, the estranged relatives of Osama Bin Laden. Carlyle, one of the world's largest private equity funds, makes most of its money from its work as a defence contractor.
Soros may not, as some have suggested, be a fully paid-up CIA agent. But that his companies and NGOs are closely wrapped up in US expansionism cannot seriously be doubted.
So why is he so upset with Bush? The answer is simple. Soros is angry not with Bush's aims -- of extending Pax Americana and making the world safe for global capitalists like himself -but with the crass and blundering way Bush is going about it. By making US ambitions so clear, the Bush gang has committed the cardinal sin of giving the game away. For years, Soros and his NGOs have gone about their work extending the boundaries of the "free world" so skilfully that hardly anyone noticed. Now a Texan redneck and a gang of overzealous neo-cons have blown it.
As a cultivated and educated man (a degree in philosophy from the London School of Economics, honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Yale, Bologna and Budapest), Soros knows too well that empires perish when they overstep the mark and provoke the formation of counter-alliances. He understands that the Clintonian approach of multilateralism -- whereby the US cajoles or bribes but never does anything so crude as to threaten -- is the only one that will allow the empire to endure. Bush's policies have led to a divided Europe, Nato in disarray, the genesis of a new Franco-German-Russian alliance and the first meaningful steps towards Arab unity since Nasser.
Soros knows a better way -- armed with a few billion dollars, a handful of NGOs and a nod and a wink from the US State Department, it is perfectly possible to topple foreign governments that are bad for business, seize a country's assets, and even to get thanked for your benevolence afterwards. …