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« Poseur | Main | My Credibility »

If He's So Rich, Why Ain't He Smart?

George Soros has a cliche-ridden wrong-headed polemic against the Bush administration in today's Puppy Trainer. This is hardly surprising, because he's openly declared war on this administration, vowing to spend as many of his millions as necessary to end it this fall. But it demonstrates that, just as being smart doesn't necessarily make one rich, the corollary is apparently true as well--Mr. Soros doesn't seem to be very smart, at least not about anything other than making money.

The Bush administration is in the habit of waging personal vendettas against those who criticize its policies, but bit by bit the evidence is accumulating that the invasion of Iraq was among the worst blunders in U.S. history.

Hmmmm...a "habit"? Can he cite the innumerable examples of this to justify this statement? In fact, I can't think of a single instance of "waging personal vendettas." The only ones that I can think of that Mr. Soros and his ilk might come up with are Valerie Plame and Richard Clarke, but in neither case do these meet the "personal vendetta" threshold.

In the case of the former, while the matter remains under investigation, the simplest explanation to me is that, rather than having the intent of harming Mr. Wilson's wife, the intent was simply to explain to Mr. Safire why the administration made the dumb decision to send the ambassador to Niger to sip sweet mint tea, instead of making a serious effort to investigate the possibility of yellowcake sales.

As for Mr. Clarke, I hardly think that pointing out inconsistencies in public statements, and conflicts of interest, when under attack, constitute a "personal vendetta." Yes, they helped damage his credibility, but they were only helping him damage his own--in his apparent mission to attempt to rewrite history, he was much more active in that goal than anyone else.

And as to "one of the worst blunders in American history," like "the worst economy in fifty years," such hyperbole might be rhetorically effective with people unfamiliar with American history (which Mr. Soros, not being native born, may very well be), but to those more informed, it sounds more like shrill volume is being used to compensate for a lack of solid argument.

And that's just the first graf. protect ourselves against terrorism, we need precautionary measures, awareness and intelligence gathering all of which ultimately depend on the support of the populations among which terrorists operate. Declaring war on the very people we need to enlist against terrorism is a huge mistake.

What people did we declare war on? The only people we declared war on were the people running brutal regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The people who were being subjugated by those organized crime syndicates know that we not only didn't declare war on them, but rather that we took great pains to avoid making war on them, spending much more than it would have cost otherwise, and putting our own soldiers more at risk. The Iraqi people may not be happy with being occupied, but they're smart enough to know that we didn't make war on them, even if Mr. Soros isn't.

On Sept. 11, the United States was the victim of a heinous crime, and the whole world expressed spontaneous and genuine sympathy. Since then, though we Americans are loath to admit it, the war on terrorism has claimed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than were lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The comparison is rarely made in the U.S.: American lives are valued differently from the lives of foreigners, but the distinction is less obvious to people abroad.

Now this is both odious and disingenuous--or stupefyingly dumb.

I'm not "loath to admit" that more innocent civilians were lost in Afghanistan and Iraq than in New York and Arlington (and Shanksville). What I'm loath to admit is that this is a meaningful comparison, and it's not because American lives are worth more than Afghan or Iraqi lives.

Such thinking stems from a continual misunderstanding on the part of the war opponents about our purposes (often heard also in the form of the straw man "...but Saddam had nothing to do with Al Qaeda," as though the claim had ever been made that he did). They assume that the purpose of going into Afghanistan was vengeance.

Equating the number of American civilian deaths with the number of Afghan and Iraqi deaths is to revert to the primitive (perhaps appropriate, since we're talking about Babylon here) notion of "an eye for an eye," or in this case, a life for a life. Everyone, even Europe, favored our going into Afghanistan, because, apparently, everyone thought that a war for revenge was just peachy. They then, absurdly, attempt to place themselves on a higher moral plane than the American "cowboys."

But of course, the Bush policy has, appropriately, never been about revenge. It is about preventing future deaths, not just of Americans, but also those in other nations, including other Arab and Middle Eastern nations, where human life does indeed seem to be held less dear than here, and in which a depressingly large segment of the population does seem to worship death over life, with many proclaiming so loudly and proudly.

Here's a much more sensible comparison, Mr. Soros. Look at how many innocent civilians were dying in those countries before we removed their foul leadership.

How many children were dying from starvation and disease in Iraq under a corrupt UN sanctions regime which padded the bank accounts of bureaucrats so that Saddam could build palaces? How many were being starved and tortured under the tyranny of the Taliban?

How many new mass graves do you expect to appear in an Iraq under US occupation?

Agree or disagree about the war, Mr. Soros, but spare me your faux concern for the Iraqi people. By any rational measure, we've saved far more than we killed, and one can only pretend to moral superiority by ignoring this fact.

One more point. The comparison of civilians killed with deliberate intent by madmen who hate the west with civilians killed as a tragic side consequence of liberating nations, in the face of vast treasure and risk to avoid such a consequence, is despicable, but it's what I've come to expect from moral midgets such as you.

Accordingly, I hope that your own vendetta against the White House founders this fall, and leaves you considerably poorer, if not smarter.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 04, 2004 11:37 AM
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"If He's So Rich, Why Ain't He Smart?"

As Bullwinkle once observed, "For the world's most powerful magnate, he sure don't pick up things too well."

Posted by lmg at April 4, 2004 01:10 PM

Up to some date -- which could not have been later than Sept. 11, 2001, but may well have been earlier, the United States had a moral opportunity to do something about the Islamic assaults on civilization.

It was an opportunity not taken.

After Sept. 11, 2001, if not before, it became a moral obligation.

Soros doesn't get that.

Posted by Harry Eagar at April 4, 2004 01:10 PM

A tragic aspect is that George Soros has been very smart indeed in the past. His investment acumen made him a billionaire. I've read two of his books; they're excellent. He's rightly celebrated for his well-planned charitable efforts which helped overcome the Soviet domination of Europe.

Given this background, his descent into moronic Bush hatred is even more striking.

Posted by David at April 4, 2004 02:33 PM

Rand, I think you must be thinking about a different Soros. After all, his byline for that article reads (in full), "George Soros heads Soros Fund Management and is the founder of a global network of foundations dedicated to supporting open societies. His most recent book is 'The Bubble of American Supremacy.'" I mean, if the Times were to include an opinion-page article by an admitted partisan, they would surely not forget to mention that among his credentials, right?

... Hey, why is everyone laughing?

Posted by Dave at April 4, 2004 04:03 PM

Good points all: but I think you do make one mistake where you indicate that no one had ever claimed that Saddam and Al Qa'eda were involved with each other. I think that that claim was indeed made, though the depth of the involvement was left unspecified. The fabricated claim that I think you're probably referring to, which is still popular in certain impervious-to-fact circles, is that Iraq was behind the September 11 attacks. Even if this was believed by some percentage of the public, it was not a claim that the administration ever made.

Posted by SGW at April 4, 2004 05:33 PM

My point is that it was never an official justification for the war. I do in fact believe that there was cooperation between Saddam and Al Qaeda (including the first WTC attack in 1993), but that was not an argument put forth by the administration, and to claim that there wasn't doesn't weaken the case for finally completing the war against Saddam that started thirteen years ago.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 4, 2004 05:38 PM

This arrogant jerk has publicly stated that he personally intends to buy the presidency for the Democrats, and the "mainstream" media say nothing. Had a rich Republican said and done the exact same thing regarding a Democratic President, the media would never shut up about it. Which is further proof that (1) the media are fronts and fellow travellers for the DNC and (2) for the Democrats, nothing matters but getting and keeping power - not so they can do something good for the country and the people, but just so they are in power, which they somehow think is their birthright. And the rest of us "little people" can just shut and take it, since they obviously know what's best for us, no matter what we may (mistakenly) think.

These people are both disgusting and frightening. The best thing that could happen to this country in November is a landslide for Bush, i.e., a crushing defeat of the Democrats and their far-left liberal loony policies. Then maybe Democrats who still belong to the party of Harry Truman, instead of the insane far-left Socialist party it has morphed into, will take it back.

I don't agree with a lot of the Republican platform, but I see no other choice but to vote for Bush if I want the country to survive against the war being waged against us by religious zealots. At least he acknowledges that we are in fact at war. He'll take the fight to the enemy, and will make some attempt to keep the government out of my pocket. Which is more than can be said for the present crop of Dems.

Posted by Barbara Skolaut at April 4, 2004 05:56 PM

I've never seen Soros talking about Open Society efforts in the Middle East. This is the area of the world that needs it the most. Why can't he duplicate the efforts he has made in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucus regions. Is he jealous of Bush's Democracy Initiatives?

Keep in mind that he is not just criticizing Iraq. He's arguing against attacking the Taliban too.

Posted by John in Tokyo at April 4, 2004 09:53 PM

In the same way, that US trade and reparations policy, v Germany, had a role in the development
of the Arrow Cross, who was the SS's auxiliary;
along with the assistance of Haj Amin Husseini,
who recruited Moslems all over the world for the
SS Handschar Division; who was (wait for it)Arafat's uncle. Really, one expects more from
the kin of Tivadar Soros; who if the US had a
more 'unilateral & preemptive policy" circum
stances might have been different, for all involved

Posted by narciso at April 4, 2004 10:35 PM

I'd like to ask the known and admitted manipulator of currencies if he's long any crude oil futures. Do you think it's beneath him to manipulate oil prices for political purposes? Are these astronomic oil prices mere coincedence?

Hey, just asking, y'know?

Posted by spongeworthy at April 5, 2004 05:48 AM

Soros's attacks begs the question: What's in it for him?

I'd like nothing better than to see him blow his millions and the President get reelected anyway. Sweet!

Posted by Bill OH at April 5, 2004 06:00 AM

But the Clinton's did listen to Clarke...about ignoring the genocide taking place in Rwanda.

Posted by hudson at April 5, 2004 10:06 AM

did iran bring 900+ el quida terrorists to iraq? did the kurds bring 900+ el quida terrorists to iraq?maybe the turks! we all know it was saddam! so why all the stupid excuses from the politicians and the media? i quite frankly don't give a damm why, i just want war! saddam was a de-facto ally of el quida, and that was the justification for war. as for soros and his ilk, wasn't a cancelled pipeline through afghanistan his reason for hating bush. 15,000,000 to defeat bush, maybe 100,000,000 to bribe the taliban, and most likely a billion to the oil futures market!

Posted by bryan o'connor at June 1, 2004 11:29 PM

did iran bring 900+ el quida terrorists to iraq? did the kurds bring 900+ el quida terrorists to iraq?maybe the turks! we all know it was saddam! so why all the stupid excuses from the politicians and the media? i quite frankly don't give a damm why, i just want war! saddam was a de-facto ally of el quida, and that was the justification for war. as for soros and his ilk, wasn't a cancelled pipeline through afghanistan his reason for hating bush. 15,000,000 to defeat bush, maybe 100,000,000 to bribe the taliban, and most likely a billion to the oil futures market!

Posted by bryan o'connor at June 1, 2004 11:29 PM

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