George Soros's Long Strange Trip : A Philanthropist Defies Drug War Orthodoxy

By Baker, Russ | The Nation, September 20, 1999 | Go to article overview

George Soros's Long Strange Trip : A Philanthropist Defies Drug War Orthodoxy


Baker, Russ, The Nation


One thing about George Soros everyone can agree on: He isn't worried what people think of him. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad blamed the American billionaire for nearly ruining Malaysia's economy with massive currency speculation. Hard-core Russian nationalists decried as "meddling" his funding of progressive newspapers and institutions in post-Soviet Russia. Now, it's a prickly domestic cause-drug policy-that has folks taking aim at this hard-nosed financier and controversial philanthropist.

Soros is the "Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization," says Joseph Califano Jr. of Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Clinton Administration drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey won't speak directly about Soros, but McCaffrey's spokesman, Bob Weiner, was typically biting in his assessment of the Lindesmith Center, a Soros-backed institution that serves as a leading voice for Americans who want to decriminalize drug use: "I'm sure Lindesmith's desire to take us into nihilism and chaos and to jam our hospital emergency rooms with more users has some valid purpose." Out on the lunatic fringe, anti-Semitic cult leader Lyndon LaRouche has labeled Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew, the mastermind behind a global drug cartel.

As a creative philanthropist, Soros is perhaps best known for his largesse to causes in Central and Eastern Europe (last year alone he gave away half a billion in places like Bosnia and Kazakhstan). When in 1994 he chose, as one of his first domestic programs, to fund efforts to challenge the efficacy of America's $37-billion-a-year war on drugs, he seemed intent on proving that he was either a fool or a visionary. It's still too early for a final judgment. But one thing is clear: He's touched a lot of raw nerves in challenging a long-entrenched view that the best way to fight drug abuse is through the criminal justice system.

That tendency was vividly apparent when in June 1998, at the United Nations' second conference on drugs, General McCaffrey was handed a perfectly timed two-page advertisement that had just run in the New York Times. The banner headline read: the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself. Eyewitnesses recall the general fuming. And no wonder: The ad, brainchild of Lindesmith's director, Ethan Nadelmann, was an open letter signed by a spectacular array of opinion- makers, including numerous Nobel Prize laureates, former presidents, prime ministers and former UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Soros's efforts to change the terms of the drug dialogue in America-from exhortation and punishment to treatment and rehabilitation-have ranged from such grand PR gestures as the Times open letter to the less glamorous tasks of research and grassroots advocacy. He has funded methadone- treatment and needle-exchange programs, supported a spate of successful medical-marijuana ballot initiatives and provided an institutional home in Lindesmith for Nadelmann, a man whom opponents tag as America's most unabashed proselytizer for legalization of drugs. Over the past six years Soros has given some $30 million to drug reform-just 7 percent of his overall domestic giving, but nonetheless a significant sum in the circumscribed world of drug policy advocacy.

In an interview with The Nation, Soros argued that his interest in shaking up the conventional wisdom about the war on drugs-and challenging political leaders to look beyond the zero-tolerance military model-is entirely consistent with his vision of an "open society." The parent organization of his worldwide philanthropic operation, the Open Society Institute (OSI), is founded upon the philosophical premise that nobody has a monopoly on the truth and that originally well-intentioned government efforts often turn repressive. "When I started looking to do something in the United States, [I saw that] one of the areas where policy has unintended adverse consequences is drug policy," Soros says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

George Soros's Long Strange Trip : A Philanthropist Defies Drug War Orthodoxy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.