The Bubble of American Supremacy. Correcting the Misuse of American Power.
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George Soros, a foreign exchange dealer and philanthropist, who
has spent a considerable part of his life working on the theory and
practical implementation of an “open society,” has published
several books devoted to what he describes as the “reform of global
capitalism.” His latest work on the subject, entitled The
Bubble of American Supremacy. Correcting the Misuse of American
is a worthy continuation of that series.

Written at a time of heated confrontation between the liberal
and conservative forces in U.S. politics, this book is far more
aggressive (in the good sense of the word) than most of Soros’s
previous publications. In it, the author pours criticism on the
policies of the current Republican administration, reviews his own
achievements in promulgating the values of an “open society” and
offers a plan for reform that would help overcome the deepening
crisis within the system of international relations.

In the midst of the growing opposition to George W. Bush, who
has become something of a sitting duck for criticism, Soros’s book
stands out as a remarkably summarized, carefully argued and sharply
pronounced disapproval of the administration’s policies.

First, the author demonstrates that ideological stereotypes and
prejudices are impeding an impartial analysis of the U.S. present
policies. “Ideology has come to play an abnormally large part in
deciding government policy, and the discrepancy between perceptions
and the actual state of affairs has also grown abnormally wide” (p.
184). This is the root cause of most miscalculations by the
incumbent U.S. administration.

Second, Soros argues that President Bush and his team have been
reluctant, or unable, to realize that “although the loss of three
thousand innocent lives [in the September 11 terrorist attack] is
an enormous tragedy, it does not endanger our existence as a
nation” (p. 29) and for this reason did not require a full-scale
military response.

The author’s claim that “by declaring war on terrorism President
Bush has played right into the terrorists’ hands” (p. 13) sounds
very convincing. Moreover, the terrorists “wanted us to react the
way we did, perhaps, they understood us better than we understand
ourselves” (p. 181) and this alone is a reason for concern.

Third, having fallen into a trap, says Soros, the Bush
administration was reckless enough to declare a senseless “war on
terrorism” instead of hunting down terrorists. Soros maintains,
quite reasonably, that the war on terrorism cannot be won, because
modern militaries have no idea how to fight against an
unidentifiable enemy (pp. 18-19). The “war on terrorism is more
likely to bring about a permanent state of war… setting up a
vicious circle of escalating violence” (p. 26; for more detail see
pp. 20-21). “The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush
administration has actually increased the terrorist threat” (p.
70). For the Russian reader, the strength of these arguments grows
manyfold. Replace America with Russia, and the name Bush with
Putin, and the arguments are equally applicable to the Russian

Fourth, Soros points to the extreme risks of U.S. actions in
Iraq, which directly stem from ‘the war on terrorism’ concept. “I
would consider Iraq the last place to choose for a demonstration
project [to establish democracy] (p. 58).” America’s inevitable
debacle in Iraq will foment anti-American sentiments in the region
and “prevent future efforts at nation building” (p. 65). As for
Soros’s opinion on the economic backlash of the Iraqi adventure of
the United States and the rest of the world, I shall discuss this
topic further.

In a nutshell, Soros is certain that the incumbent U.S.
administration is leading the nation up a blind alley. Is this
policy due to the foolishness of certain fanatics in this

Soros believes the answer is no. He lists several objective
prerequisites that caused the neo-conservative policy to prevail.
He points to the United States’ unparalleled power, especially in
the military sphere, the inability of any single country or bloc of
countries to catch up with it (p.p 10-11) and the weakness of
international institutions which are actually impeding a concerted
multilateral approach to pressing issues. It is noteworthy that the
author is very skeptical about the ability of the United Nations,
in its present form, to improve international relations. He
unequivocally points to “a great unresolved problem: how to protect
the common interest in a world consisting of sovereign states that
habitually put their own interests ahead of the common interest”
(pp. 80-81). The UN Security Council has also discredited itself by
its resolutions concerning the former Yugoslavia, by the refusal of
its members to intervene in Rwanda, and by the heated controversies
that surfaced during the debates on Iraq. The Americans’ unilateral
actions have no justification, but they do contain certain

The more formal explanations and opportunities the United States
has for unilateral action, the more difficult it will be to bring
about a new world order consonant with Soros’s ideas. He believes
there are two things to be done: Bush’s re-election for a second
term must be prevented, and the next administration must be offered
a clear plan for building a safer world (pp. 74, 188).

The details of this plan constitute the greater part of the
book. Just as in many other works, Soros’s analysis of the current
state of affairs is exceptionally convincing. However, his plan of
action seems somewhat utopian since the assumptions he proceeds
from are rather disputable.

As usual, Soros starts his analysis with an economic aspect of
the problem, using the phenomenon of globalization as the point of
departure. In contrast to his previous works, however, this time he
presents a very narrow interpretation: “For the purposes of the
present discussion, I shall take globalization to mean the
development of global financial markets, the growth of
transnational corporations and their increasing domination over
national economies” (p. 83).

In this sense, says Soros, “globalization as defined here is a
relatively recent phenomenon that distinguishes the present from
fifty or even twenty-five years ago” (p. 85). He also makes a
distinction between the contemporary “global capitalist system” and
“international capitalism” of the early 20th century (pp. 83 and

Such a view on globalization is indicative of the author’s wish
to protect it from increasing criticism, and to emphasize the idea
that the existing world order is far from ideal, since it is unable
to eliminate even the traditional negative traits. Speaking about
global wealth inequality and the disastrous position of the poor
countries, Soros says: “These conditions were not necessarily
caused by globalization, but globalization has done little to
redress them” (p. 95). In his opinion, the appalling degradation of
the poor countries that have largely lost the properties of
statehood is the most dramatic problem of our time. Soros’s remark
that those territories form “an underclass of the global
capitalist system” (p. 97) deserves to become a political

Alas, the author’s ideas about how to amend the situation are
not very new. Soros sees a way out of the current situation by
increasing aid to the poor countries and eliminating the well-known
flaws in the methods of providing this aid (pp. 128-129). The one
new proposal he presents is to diversify the channels by which the
aid is provided. Soros believes it would be more expedient to
direct the aid to non-governmental agencies within the countries,
as opposed to the governments themselves: “The less democratic the
recipient country, the more aid should flow through nongovernmental
civil society” (p. 144).

Far more remarkable are Soros’s ideas about reforming the modern
world. He sees the underlying cause of world chaos in the
traditional sovereignty doctrine, because “the principle of
sovereignty protects repressive regimes from external interference”
(p. 100). The question remains open, though, about the mechanism to
be used for making decisions on such interference and on how it
correlates with the tasks and goals of enforcing a “common

Thus far the author’s arguments and conclusions have looked
convincing enough. Thereafter, his theories arouse many

It is surprising that the author, so critical of the Bush
administration for pursuing the abstract universal principles of
social Darwinism (pp. 178-179), proceeds from no less abstract
(although slightly different) universal principles.

Soros argues that “sovereignty belongs to the people; the people
are supposed to delegate it to the government through the electoral
process” (p. 102). To back up this assumption, not quite obvious,
Soros recalls the French Revolution, in which “the king was
overthrown and sovereignty was taken over by the people” (p. 100).
However, the fact that monarchy was overthrown in France fails to
prove that “popular sovereignty” is an embodiment of the ideal of
sovereignty, let alone the postulate that the will of one people
reflects the aspirations of all others. It is hard to imagine that
the will of the French people, expressed (far from unanimously) two
hundred years ago, can and must be used today to determine the
basis of political and social structures of, say, Saudi Arabia,
whose people have nothing (and apparently are reluctant to ever
have anything) in common with the French, who abolished monarchy in
their own country.

A closer look at the Bush doctrine and the Soros doctrine shows
that they differ in the aspect of permissible methods, rather than
proclaimed objectives. Bush, who says democracy is the paramount
value, advocates unilateral interference in the affairs of
countries, even if they hold differing opinions about democracy.
Soros, who postulates that sovereignty inherently belongs to the
people, likewise advises “to penetrate into the nation-state to
protect the rights of its people” (p. 103).

On this point, Soros’s doctrine appears to be far more
controversial than Bush’s crude and straightforward doctrine. Soros
believes that the way to implement his doctrine is to divide all
countries of the world into those recognizing the “democratic way
of development” from all of the others. In his opinion, the first
step along these lines was made in 2000, when 107 democratic
countries put their signatures to the Warsaw Declaration that
proclaimed; “It is in the interest of all democratic
countries taken as a group to foster the development of democracy
in all other countries” (112). The next move to be made is
“the formation of an influential democratic bloc of nations” that
“would change the character of the United Nations,” making it more
effective in influencing its member states, especially as
“repressive regimes would be excluded from active decision-making”
(p. 120).

It is hard to imagine what emotions such an arrangement may
arouse with the American people. Personally, I immediately thought
of the incumbent Russian State Duma, in which an overwhelming
“democratic” majority has already barred various “inconsistent
democrats” from the decision-making process. One should also
remember that France (which, according to the author, provided the
world with a new sovereignty doctrine) is the sole democratic
country that refused to sign the Warsaw Declaration. And this – by
no means a casual coincidence – casts a good deal more light on the
Soros doctrine than all of the author’s own theoretical

What opportunities will the Soros doctrine create? It provides
the opportunity to declare illegitimate any regime and any ruler
not elected by the people. However, in many countries the
sovereigns nowadays conduct liberal policies, while in others true
dictators readily call plebiscites to confirm their powers. This
doctrine may empower a “new majority” in the United Nations to hold
a democratic vote in order to determine if a country is
undemocratic and thus eligible for sanctions. And so on and so

What is the moral and ethical basis of such measures? The author
quotes a report by the United Nations International Commission on
Intervention and State Sovereignty, postulating the so-called
‘responsibility to protect’ as the moral duty of the advanced
countries. In his book, Soros reproduces this document practically
in full (pp. 104-108). For instance, the commission argues that
intervention is permissible in case of a “large-scale loss of life,
actual or apprehended, with genocidal intent or not, which is the
product either of deliberate state action, or state neglect or
inability to act, or a failed state situation or large-scale ethnic
cleansing, actual or apprehended, whether carried out by killing,
forced expulsion, acts of terror or rape” (p. 106). No one would
object to such postulates. However, the report says nothing about
the infringement on people’s sovereignty, or the undemocratic
nature of this or that regime.

In my opinion, Soros’s position is explainable not so much by
his longing for a fundamental reform of the system of international
relations along the principles of an “open society,” as by his
desire to carefully ease pressure inside the bubble of American
supremacy. This is precisely why his “popular sovereignty concept”
develops into rather telling statements, such as: “Another major
area where the principle of the people’s sovereignty has important
implications is revenues from the exploitation of natural
resources” (p. 146). This implies that, should these principles be
consistently applied, large-scale investment in countries freed
from dictatorial regimes would not be so crucial as they are, for
example, in Iraq (for this purpose, such countries will be told to
establish a special regime of “transparency of their incomes from
the use of mineral resources” (pp. 154-155). All these proposals
correlate well with the author’s evaluation of the U.S. current
economy as a “stop/go economy” (p. 73), if not directly stem from

Soros points to the most glaring flaws in the current U.S.
administration’s policies – heavy ideological bias, unilateral
decision-making, growing isolation of the United States in the
United Nations and the world in general, and the heavy burden on
American taxpayers. The author’s objective is declared in the
book’s title – correcting the misuse of American power. To do this,
says Soros, policies must be de-ideologized and made more rational,
and a coalition of democratic countries must be created to share
the responsibility for interfering in the affairs of other
countries. Also, majorities in the United Nations and other
international organizations supporting the new U.S. policies must
be formed. Finally, legitimate sources of financing must be found
for peacekeeping operations. This would ease the tax burden on the
population of industrialized countries.

After Afghanistan and Iraq, the West will be more cautious in
using force in peripheral regions around the globe. In similar
situations, the implementation of the Soros doctrine may humanize
international relations and reduce the risk of repeating the Iraqi
scenario. However, it is doubtful that it will help the developing
countries acquire a better understanding of the West’s goals.

Whatever effects the hypothetical implementation of Soros’s
ideas in international relations may have, his book proves that the
search for new approaches to building a world order is becoming a
mainstream trend of our time. The emergence of a paradigm that is
devoid of inner contradictions and worthy of being put into
practice is only a matter of time.

Vladislav Inozemtsev