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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The road map of a brighter future for America, 19 Jan. 2004
Theodore A. Rushton (PHOENIX, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power (Hardcover)
If you think the foreign policy of President George Bush is inept and leading America into a quagmire, then you'll love this book; Soros offers an intelligent business alternative to the soggy quicksand of conservative ideology.
Consider the background of Soros and Bush. Soros survived the Nazis and Communists in Hungary, got to the US in 1956 and had enough business acumen to become a billionaire. Bush is the son of Old Establishment money and political patronage who never earned a cent in his life, always relying on his Daddy's wealthy friends to hand him lucrative deals. Soros became rich by understanding the motivations and actions of others; Bush became president because political advisers Karl Rove and James Baker saw him as a pliant puppet.
Does that make either man a foreign affairs expert? No.
Soros' foreign expertise comes from the $500 million he donates every year to support genuine democracy around the world. Bush's policy comes from a narrow group of American Supremacist reactionaries who advocate a unilateralist approach to which other nations may humbly bow down but not offer influence. Therein lies the difference: Bush offers America First isolation, Soros advocates cooperative international solutions.
Who is right? Well, in the world of business, the idea of cooperation instead of confrontation works well. Soros outlines his approach with an articulate skill in this book, criticizing the Bush mistakes and saying other nations can offer invaluable help. Soros is the modern equivalent of President Woodrow Wilson who created the League of Nations, a brilliant idea which failed due to American isolationism and its refusal to counter aggression. Like Wilson, Soros believes in rational people making intelligent decisions.
In brief, it is the essence of his book. I recently re-read 'Common Sense' by Thomas Paine, the 1776 book that was the intellectual foundation for the American Declaration of Independence. Soros has written the modern international equivalent, as well-reasoned, eloquent and impassioned as Paine. However, there is a difference. Paine faced King George III, who may have been nuts but was obviously very astute. Today, America faces an amorphous irrational terrorism based on an utterly insane religious fundamentalism.
Events in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Mid-East countries will have an impact on the 2004 election. One choice is American Supremacist 'follow us or fight us' ultimatums offered by Bush. Soros offers a road map of a brighter future for America based on American Leadership with a 'we'll respect your views' type of consultation and cooperation.
Soros has been there. As a Jew in his native Budapest, he survived in the impact of the "Germany Above all Others" policy. He survived the utterly irrational communist fundamentalism. America made him vastly rich. He has been funding democratic programs in Europe since the 1980s. It's an incredible personal schooling on which to base his views.
The 2004 election debate will likely be on the economy, with foreign policy as the runner-up. Much of the talk show debate involves extremists screaming at each other; Soros offers an intelligent alternative to the current quagmire.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soros Invests in Reason, 3 Feb. 2004
Mr. T. G. Rose "Tim G Rose" (London UK) - See all my reviews
George Soros is not a man that your average anti-capitalist or socialist can agree with, he is an extraordinarily wealthy and a driven man who "broke the Bank of England", but also man who's past is steeped in the history of Nazi occupation, and is driven by insight and compassion, he is also one of the worlds great philanthropists. If he has gone to the trouble of writing a book, "The Bubble of American Supremacy" about the recent direction of America, in it's war against terror and it's stance on democracy and the "free world", it is probably worth a read.
Indeed if you are at all clued up about the election of George Bush Junior and the history behind the war on terror, you will find a lot here to agree with. Indeed why bother? However, the book is well written and very accessible. Anyone that found Gore Vidal's recent lyrical "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: ..." hard going, or Michael Moore's "Hey Dude Where's My Country" too biennial, should take this book and pick up on the subject again with adult yet non-pretentious language.
The book is also well researched with many references and web links if you start to get a bit curious, and due to Soros's past, full of fresh insights into how the current political rhetoric on a war against unseen and unproved terror has worrying overtones, and why the American public (and probably us Brits too) are in denial over the situation. Soros skirts too briefly around the real reasons for the occupation of Iraq, why we went to war with no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, however, this reflects some of the issues which our political leaders have not discussed publicly, although Soros does elude to them.

George Soros has written this in a hurry, due to the imminence of the US Elections, and his desire to influence the result based upon reason. There does not seem to be a political angle, and he certainly is no normal conspiracy theorist, and probably no recent convert on this topic. He is simply an alarmed billionaire with a very rational outlook.
Yet for all the gaps, it is a well thought out book, highly readable and a surprising topic for a man of his stature, although I think many will end up agreeing with his concerns and his reasons for writing such a book.
To anyone who is concerned about current regime in the Whitehouse and the war against terror, read it to reassure yourself that great and apparently sane minds are on the case. To those who are not fearful of the Bush regime, I implore you to read it and find out why you should be. If a free market capitalist is worried for the stability of the world, and the epicentre of this instability is the USA, something is going badly wrong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Investing In Change, 31 Aug. 2010
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power (Hardcover)
Anyone committed to facile Marxist doctrines of "finance capitalism" will be disappointed by this book. Soros, once dubbed the man who broke the Bank of England, is the last person who would be expected to oppose the foreign policy of the United States. Yet, historically, Wall Street has rarely favoured conflict in pursuit of profits. Soros himself is motivated by what he calls The Open Society, a reference to Karl Popper's critique of historicism and totalitarianism set out in The Poverty of Historicism and The Open Society and Its Enemies. Soros suggests that his investment policies are based on a conceptual framework which incorporates Popper's ideas.

Soros believes reality "remains just beyond our range forever" largely because reality includes a natural divergence between reality and understanding. Thus, unlike Marxists who contend they can never be wrong, Soros takes the view that human beings "are bound to be wrong in some way or another, although the extent and nature of our misunderstanding may vary." It is on this foundation - that truth is always provisional and needs constant re-examination - that Soros builds his Open Society. Markets enable people to pursue their private interests while wider common interests are determined by political institutions. He rejects the idea that material conditions determine the ideological superstructure as false, a falsehood he attributes to the nineteenth century roots of neo-Marxism, neoconservativism and market fundamentalism. In economic terms markets do not tend to equilibrium but should be viewed as an ongoing but unpredictable historical process.

Soros argues that Bush's response to the atrocity of 9/11 was to implement a radical foreign policy which predated what happened. He claims this originated with neoconservatism whose statement of intent had surfaced in 1997 as the Project for the New American Century. The project leaders considered American could and should take a global leadership role. This would involved increased military spending, increasing democratic ties, challenging hostile regimes, promoting the cause of politicial and economic freedom abroad while preserving and extending the existing international order. Soros argues this is a supremacist ideology claiming posession of ultimate truth and cuts across the principles of the Open Society.

It's at this point Soros allows his political purpose (the defeat of George W Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election) to get the better of his commitment to the Open Society. If he doesn't quite wander into conspiracy theory he gets very close to the polemics of Popper's attacks on historicism. Which is unfortunate because his observations on the cycle of victims of violence turning into perpetrators are accurate. In addition, he is right in suggesting that the war on terrorism is more likely to bring about a state of permanent war rather than peace in our time. He expresses concern about the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act suggesting they breach the civil liberties of the law abiding citizen. In this respect his opinion is no more valid than any other observer.

Soros has his own agenda, using his approach to Open Society policies as a model which would produce more positive results in terms of democratic responses than the futile war on terror. He believes America can lead a Community of Democracies in reforming the world economic system by making it fairer, not based on outdated ideological paradigms, but on the principles which Soros himself applies through his Democratic Foundations. It needs to be remembered that Soros is not a free market capitalist but someone who believes the inevitable peaks and troughs can be smoothed out with different economic policies than those pursued by the Republican Party. He has no doubt that the communist model of centralised economic planning failed but considers the free market alternative needs to be regulated against self-interest and in favour of the common interest.

Soros has predicted the collapsed of the current economic system on several occasions over the past decade and has yet to be proved right. It has been suggested that his economic assistance to Eastern European countries helped facilitate the collapse of Communism by funding dissidents. However, in terms of American politics, Soros moved from a central position to one of open support for the Democratic Party, largely through soft donations. In political terms despite the $15.5 million he gave towards trying to defeat Bush, Soros proved to be as relevant to American politics as Ross Perot and even less successful.

More recently Soros has been criticised for moving his headquarters to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles outside the jurisdiction of the United States and on an island which has been cited as a major trafficker of Latin American drug money. Soros understands the meaning of self interest (after all it's how he made his money at the expense of others). What he doesn't understand is that politicians assume that being elected gives them the right to take political decisions and that they will find there's checks and balances which are designed to prevent a democratic dictatorship. Soros's critique has a broad validity even if his interpretation of events is too political and self-promoting to be objective. Worth four stars.
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