Fw: [What's Left] When a billionaire's buying elections is called "promoting democracy"

Raymond Chase r_chase at sympatico.ca
Mon Nov 17 16:01:17 MST 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: stephen gowans
To: sr.gowans at sympatico.ca
Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 6:59 PM
Subject: [What's Left] When a billionaire's buying elections is called
"promoting democracy"

What's Left
November 11, 2003
When a billionaire's buying elections is called "promoting democracy"
By Stephen Gowans
Today's Washington Post says "George Soros, one of the world's richest men,
has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet
bloc, Africa and Asia." ("Soros deep pockets vs. Bush).
Saying Soros promotes democracy is kind of like saying Augusto Pinochet
restored democracy to Chile -- it works, if you're willing to really stretch
and allow a certain laxity in the use of the word "democracy." Otherwise,
the claim is pure nonsense.
Soros doesn't promote democracy. He spends money to get his favored
candidates elected, usually ideologues who will implement "free market
reforms" to allow Soros to add to his growing billions.
Naturally, the recipients of this electoral largesse are expected to return
the favor, by ripping up anti-privatization laws, auctioning off state
assets, selling off state-owned companies, and opening up public services to
private control -- whatever will help Soros, and investors like him, find a
home for their surplus capital.
These days Soros has set his sights on ousting George Bush in the next
presidential election, an ambitious objective Soros hopes to achieve by
signing over a king's ransom to such liberal groups as MoveOn.Org and
America Coming Together (ACT), hoping they'll help get out the anti-Bush --
that is, the pro-Democrat -- vote come next November. (Soros says Bush's
rhetoric reminds him of the Nazis.)
Predictably, the Republicans are outraged, complaining that "George Soros is
trying to create a more open society by using an unregulated,
under-the-radar-screen, shadowy, soft-money group to do it."
Christine Iverson, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee,
charges that Soros is "buying the Democratic Party."
Under normal circumstances, the Republicans would outspend the Democrats.
This time around it seems the gap won't be so large, though Soros's
bankrolling of the anti-Bush forces won't put the billionaire in the
position he's accustomed to: being able to confer an enormous electoral
advantage on his favored candidate. Bush still has a whole whack of money
behind him.
Not too many years ago, Soros was pitch-forking money into the pockets of
anti-Milosevic forces in Yugoslavia. The immediate beneficiaries were the
Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), a collection of opposition parties
that had coalesced under a single banner at the behest of the US State
Department. Soros was to be the downstream beneficiary.
DOS was committed to the kind of economic policies Soros liked:
privatization, an end to subsidies, tax cuts, the whole gamut of indulgent
to foreign capital, harsh to the domestic population policies called "free
market reforms."
In fact, Soros was using "unregulated, under-the-radar-screen, shadowy,"
means to oust the incumbent under the guise of promoting an open-society --
in effect, what the Republicans complain he's doing to Bush.
Except, back then, the Republicans weren't complaining. And neither were a
lot of other people. When it was revealed that Soros and the US State
Department were working behind the scenes, bankrolling, training and
advising DOS, and the student resistance group, Otpor, the revelations were
ignored, even by influential members of the American Left. Where massive
outside interference in the elections that saw Nicaragua's Sandinistas swept
from power had spurred Leftists in the US to speak out in outrage, outside
meddling in Yugoslavia's elections was greeted with silence.
To the Left, Milosevic was far from the sympathetic character Daniel Ortega
and his Sandinista comrades were, and so the beleaguered president was left
out to dry, an act tantamount to springing to the defense of a falsely accus
ed murderer of glowing attributes, while leaving one who isn't your cup of
tea to the hangman.
Soros's involvement in the Balkans doesn't end there. He's also bankrolling
the Hague Tribunal, the kangaroo court set up by NATO to try Milosevic, and
other (mostly Serb) figures of the recent conflicts in the Balkans,
conflicts the West itself had a hand in sparking.
So why is Soros trying to buy the outcome of the next US presidential
election? The answer may have a lot to do with Bush's form, as opposed to
his substance.  Bush is far more inclined than any president in living
memory (with the possible exception of Reagan) to adopt the kind of
strutting, macho, go-it-alone, style that rankles opponents and inspires
opposition. Plus, he's irretrievably connected to big oil.
Soros, one suspects, was much happier with Clinton. Clinton was widely seen
to be the humanitarian president, who kept major allies on side, and
intervened in Yugoslavia, to stop a genocide.
By comparison, Bush comes across as a madman who lies liberally to justify
wars waged for oil, undertaken in brazen violation of international law and
over the objections of major allies. It's easy to picture Bush sporting a
short moustache, dreaming of world conquest. Clinton's more likely to be
seen dreaming of conquests of an altogether different -- and sexual --
That's the perception, anyway, but Bush and Clinton are not so different,
Bush's dreams of world conquest and Clinton's dreams of intern conquest,
Clinton trampled international law to attack Yugoslavia and lied boldly
about his reasons for doing so.  A genocide was in progress, he said, but
when forensic pathologists scoured Kosovo looking for evidence of the
genocide, they found none. Many left, complaining bitterly that they'd been
deceived by Clinton's "war propaganda." (Before there were claimed weapons
of mass destruction that couldn't be found, there was a claimed genocide
that couldn't be found.)
And Clinton, who sent cruise missiles hurtling toward Sudan, Afghanistan and
Yugoslavia without UN authorization,  and who ordered the bombing of Iraq
without a UN imprimatur, was as contemptuous of international law -- and
world opinion -- as Bush is. Clinton's genius, however, was that he was able
to behave exactly as his successor would, without inspiring a lot of
opposition, and startlingly, managing to enlist the backing of liberals.
Soros says he supports Democratic presidential contenders John Kerry,
Richard Gephardt and retired General Wesley Clark, his comrade in the battle
to oust Slobodan Milosevic. Clark led NATO's 78-day air war on Yugoslavia.
The retired warrior's conduct as head of NATO forces was far from exemplary.
Dubbed an antiwar candidate by his backers, Clark was known to jump from his
chair during the Kosovo campaign, slap his fist on the table, and shout,
"I've got to get the maximum violence out of this campaign -- now!"
(Washington Post, September 21, 1999).
Human Rights Watch, the watchdog connected to the US foreign policy
establishment, complained that Clark's forces committed grave breaches of
humanitarian law. Read: they committed war crimes, at Clark's behest.
But you don't need Human Rights Watch to flesh out Clark's career as a war
criminal. The deliberate bombings of factories, electrical power stations,
bridges, and even a radio-TV building were all amply covered by the media.
It's curious then that the real butcher of Belgrade, should be backed by
Soros in the presidential race, while the alleged butcher of Belgrade is on
trial for war crimes before a Soros bankrolled tribunal.
But then Clark's charm, good looks, and Rhodes scholar CV make him the kind
of candidate Soros can back: ready, like Clinton, to do his part in opening
up societies for Soros to invest in, while being deft enough not to make the
same mistake Bush has made -- looking too much like a Nazi while doing so.
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