George Soros Has It Right on America’s History and Accountability Problem: NeoCons Brew Storm to Distract from Their Complicity in Today’s Disaster

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George_Soros.jpg
George Soros’s words often kick up storms. And another storm has hit.
This time it’s about comparing America today and Nazi Germany — and how states deal with their not-so-pleasant pasts. Just for the record, Soros also included Turkey and Japan in his mix of history-denying countries that faced obstacles in approaching their futures in a healthy way.
Soros is sort of like a less careful Alan Greenspan whose wrinkled brow, or the length of pause before he spoke, or a small wink could generate political and economic tsunamis.
Soros is worth something around a couple or few tens of billions of dollars and donates through his charities half a billion dollars a year, most of this to help cultivate civil society development in former Soviet bloc countries. Recently, he has broadened his arena of concerns — particularly in the area of global warming/climate change and doing something to help shore up global resistance to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He has also invested a lot in trying to help us to get rid of or to get beyond the Bush presidency
But the right wing hates George Soros. And the NeoCons (on the right or the left) hate him more.
I just don’t get it though because he has actually helped change societies successfully and is a hero in much of the world. The necons too have wanted to change the world — albeit with guns, while Soros did it through education and political and civil institution buildng. One must surmise then that they are both jealous of his success and have a counterproductive obsession with military-driven social change, something that rarely if ever works.
If there was a person in the United States or the world who better reflected a “transformational diplomat,” a person concerned with checks and balances inside governments and who telegraphed a concern for basic human rights in everything he funds and animates, I don’t know who the person is.
So, what exactly did George Soros say. Here, is is a recap from the New York Post that adds to an original item written by Floyd Norris’s “Davos Diary” for the New York Times:

After asserting that the United States is recognizing the error it made in Iraq, Soros said, “To what extent it recognizes the mistake will determine its future.”
He went on to say that Turkey and Japan are still hurt by a reluctance to admit to dark parts of their history, and contrasted that reluctance to Germany’s rejection of its Nazi-era past.
“America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany,” Soros said. “We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process.”
Soros spokesman Michael Vachon told Page Six: “There is nothing unpatriotic about demanding accountability from the president. Those responsible for taking America into this needless war should do us all a favor and retire from public office.”

Martin Peretz in The New Republic under a small header “The Madness of King George” (more aptly applied to the current occupant of the White House) and a subsequent title, “Tyran-a-Soros” has written the most vile depiction of the Soros commentary :

George Soros lunched with some reporters on Saturday at Davos. He talked about spending $600 million on civil society projects during the 1990s, then trying to cut back to $300 million, and how this year it will be between $450 and $500 million.
His new projects aim, in Floyd Norris’s words, to promote a “common European foreign policy” (read: an anti-American foreign policy) and also to study the integration (or so he thinks) of Muslims in eleven European cities.
He included among his dicta a little slight at Bill and Melinda Gates, who “have chosen public health, which is like apple pie.” And then, after saying the United States was now recognizing the errors it made in Iraq, he added this comment, as reported by Norris in The New York Times’ online “Davos Diary”: “To what extent it recognizes the mistake will determine its future.”
Soros said Turkey and Japan were still hurt by a reluctance to admit to dark parts of their history and contrasted that reluctance to Germany’s rejection of its Nazi-era past. “America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany. We have to go through a certain deNazification process.”

American arrogance is tough enough for the world to handle — but arrogance after botching up a war that has resulted in the deaths many tens of thousands and displaced millions while U.S. citizens at home enjoy a comfy life of tax cuts and Desperate Housewives — is even more over the top.
Martin Peretz is part of the crowd that pounded a drumbeat for the Iraq War and has been complicit with the other Chief Ideology Officers of the neocon movement — folks such as Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Bill Kristol, and Charles Krauthammer — in engaging in a broad denial of the idiocy of this military action and are today ignoring lessons that could be learned from our Iraq debacle as they encourage yet another disastrous clash — this time with Iran.
Soros properly and appropriately referred to de-Nazification because that was a process that assured that there was accountability for the deadly, barbarous, and horrible actions taken by the government of Germany. Like in Japan, political and military leaders — and some social, educational, and business leaders — were purged from their offices in order for those of different political ilk to come into positions of power.
Soros is referring to political accountability and political change after what many conservatives are calling a series of the worst political and military strategic mistakes in modern American history. He is referring to those in the White House and in American politics who turned a blind eye after Abu Ghraib, who did nothing when people were shut up — some mistakenly — without legal counsel in Guantanamo. He is referring to those who sat on information related to the Haditha horror until it was exposed.
Peretz is lambasting Soros because of the temerity of comparing anything that the United States might do in the world with the horrors of what Nazi Germany did — and these were horrors. Peretz and others seem to think that they have some kind of monopoly in drawing on metaphors that related to German war crimes in the mid-part of last century, particularly when it comes to the Holocaust and to Jewish issues. (though he might not realize how utterly offensive and inappropriate the comparison of “King George” is to someone who has done more than anyone in history to finance the cultivation of systems of checks and balances around the world.)
Soros might have used Japan’s case to make his point — but he knows Japanese history less well and intimately than that of Europe and Germany’s role. Soros is talking about those who place ideology over empirical rationality, those who have positions of power and did awful, terrible things in our own government — and now need to be “purged” from our system.
I agree with Soros and understand the metaphor he was using. I have the sense of context and I think the maturity to know that Soros was not implying that America is on the same moral plain of a German state that exterminated six million Jews. Of course Soros is not saying that — and Peretz and the other critics that have tried to ride this wave know it too.
They are manipulating Soros’s comments to try and pin on him some notion of moral equivalence while missing the key issue that Soros is saying that we have gone through the worst erosion in the fundamentals of American democracy since the domestic internment camps of Japanese-Americans since World War II, and perhaps even before that.
Soros has a strong and compelling point — and I think it should be heard for what it is, untarnished by the likes of Martin Peretz who have twisted from Soros’s comment the important value it should have for our discussions in this country about the character of our future political course.
Martin Peretz, to my knowledge, has engaged in little to no self-scrutiny about the role that his own influential commentary had on the buildup to the Iraq War. He, to my knowledge, has not exposed his close personal relationship with Ahmed Chalabi — whom I met at The New Republic at a meeting organized by Peretz for editors of the magazine. I emphasize to my knowledge.
Peretz helped sell Chalabi — and helped sell the Iraqi National Congress — to official Washington. Chalabi, whose intelligence chief later defected to Iran, and Chalabi who himself allegedly passed on information he was getting from his American contacts to Iranian sources.
There is a corruption and self-censorship that hit Washington and blinded many in responsible political positions and government roles and allowed the U.S. to launch a war that should not have been launched — and to spend a great deal of time and resources punishing those who were speaking out against it.
The Europeans tried to intervene and stop us from invading Iraq — and they were right — but still we punish them for their “disloyalty.”
The administration and its fans of the “war of choice against Iraq,” as Zbigniew Brzezinski stated recently, have also spent a great deal of time trying to punish and ridicule Soros — anything to cast attention away from their own complicity in this disaster and their own mistakes. . .and their own disloyalty to the national interests of the United States of America.
We do need a political purge in this country. We need accountability — and we need to face up to the terrible mistakes and — yes — the horror in some cases that our actions have unleashed.
Soros is right.
— Steve Clemons
Update: This thoughtful email came in from a knowledgeable TWN reader and should be added to the record:

The ugliest allegation in Peretz’s screed is that George Soros was a Nazi collaborator.
This is simply untrue. Soros was a 13-year-old boy when the Nazis entered Budapest. His father hid him with an official from the Ministry of Agriculture (whose Jewish wife was also in hiding). Soros posed as his godson to avoid being murdered by the Germans.
Soros’s father managed to hide his wife and other son as well, and helped many others escape. While Soros was in hiding with the official, a Mr. Baumbach, the official was assigned to inventory the estate a wealthy Jewish family that had fled to Lisbon — leaving their property behind as the Nazis required. Baumbach spent three days inventorying the estate.
Rather than leave the child alone in Budapest, Baumbach brought Soros along. This is documented in Michael Kaufman’s 1998 biography of Soros George Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire.
As for the 1998 60 Minutes interview, Pertez, like conservative Sinclair broadcasting before him, deceptively quotes Steve Kroft’s conversation with Soros. As is clear to any one watching the excerpt, Soros does not say he participated in confiscation.
In fact he states earlier in the piece: “I had no role in taking away property.” The notion that Soros in any way collaborated with the Nazi is nothing more than a neocon canard. Any commentator with the least bit of integrity should recognize this.

Powerful material.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

51 comments on “George Soros Has It Right on America’s History and Accountability Problem: NeoCons Brew Storm to Distract from Their Complicity in Today’s Disaster

  1. SANJAYA says:

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    Reply

  2. SANJAYA says:

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    Allohumma Sholli Alaa Rudi (Pentil) Kamma Sholaita Alaa Syech Abdul Khodir Jailani
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    Oleh Sanjaya
    Hp: 0811962150

    Reply

  3. David N says:

    Steve:
    Your comments as well as those of Soros are welcome. They are also, to those of us in the bloggosphere, old news. Friends of mine have posted many, many analyses comparing Bush, Rove, etc. to the Nazis. It’s a no-brainer. Bush himself revealed his debt to Goebbels when he said that the hardest part of being president is repeating things over and over until they “become the truth.”
    Of the many parellels, their use of lies and propaganda are the most telling.
    Soros is also right, by the way, in his criticism of Gates. This comes from the poll last week in which experts decided that the most important public health progress in history was sewers and clean water. Gates is doing nothing about that. In Africa, no one is.
    One is heartened by reading the many posts from so many people in fora like this that clearly recognize the threat Bush poses to our country. One is less heartened by reading and watching the main-stream outlets that ignore everything we talk about and continue to spout conventional nonsense.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  4. Gray says:

    Imho Steve’s update thoroughly debunks your ‘blame the victim’ attack, Marc. Did you post before it was online?

    Reply

  5. Marc Schulman says:

    Read these words from the 60 Minutes interview slowly and carefully:
    Soros: “Well, of course, … I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was—well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in the markets—that is I weren’t there—of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would—would—would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the—whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the—I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.”
    The issue isn’t what he did as a child; it is his lack of guily, remorse, and regret as an adult. I doubt that Soros knew much about “the markets” when he was 14. The “market” to which he refers as an mature man is a market of peoples’ lives.

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  6. Pissed Off American says:

    Posted by Sage
    “Sage”, huh? Gee Winnipeger, I would say Den pretty well closed the door to you using THAT screen name.

    Reply

  7. Carroll says:

    Posted by Sage at February 4, 2007 03:11 PM
    >>>>>>>>>
    Unfortunately for you Sage, the majority of Americans do think like I do and that includes the majority of Jews who know the difference between American and Israeli interest. The most prominant “liberal” jews have bashed the hell out of AIPAC and the nutcase zionist, as well they should. Trolls like you want everyone to think they speak for the jews, you don’t, so take your pitiful little threats elsewhere.

    Reply

  8. Sage says:

    Carrol, I am glad I live in a country where wackos like you can spew your hate as an exercise in free speech, and I am also glad that I live in a country where a lot fewer than 98% of Americans think like you.

    Reply

  9. featherfamily says:

    Uh, sorry, when I complimented UnMask911 above I hadn’t actually read every word of his post, and now that I have read those words, there is a little too much glee in his denunciation of all Zionism for my taste.
    Is right-wing Zionism a huge world/historical problem? Yes, it is. Is American Imperialism an even bigger world/historical problem? Yes it is.
    If you want, I’d be glad to post a few hundred words of my considered views as a historian on the roots of the Arab/Zionist wars, the copy function doesn’t seem to transfer between my other writng files and here. Briefly, is it a TERRIBLE TRAGEDY. Both sides suffer. Both sides are to blame. Both sides need to back off before they kill all progress in the world (if they have not done so already).
    However, it’s only one side that has a dis-proportionate lock on power and discourse is this country … and that side is not the Arab side.
    So we need to organize firmly to oppose neo-con and right-wing Zionist power in this country … but please, please WITHOUT emotions of hatred against ANY large social/ethnic/national groups of people.
    I congratulate Steve on acknowleging his past ssociation with the New Republic, while still being able to call Peretz’s attack on Sosros a “screed.” A few more cubic miles of that kind of integrity in DC would go a long way.

    Reply

  10. Carroll says:

    If you want to keep turning Jewish liberal Democrats into Lieberman Independents, and maybe even McCain or Giuliani Republicans, by all means keep it up.
    Posted by Sage at February 4, 2007 08:31 AM
    >>>>>>>>>
    How stupid.
    You threaten us with votes?… you threaten the dems if all dems don’t support the zionist?
    Get real, no one gives a rat’s ass who the 1% hard core zionist of the 2% jewish population votes for. Take your Israel plank and shove it up you know where…we are all tired of it.
    Sincerely,
    The 98% American majority

    Reply

  11. Kathleen says:

    Let the de-NeoNutzification begin!!!!

    Reply

  12. Zathras says:

    If you don’t want to be thought of as comparing the United States with Nazi Germany, don’t make analogies to de-Nazification. This is not a complicated proposition.
    There are it is true people with the sense of context and vast maturity needed to understand that de-Nazification doesn’t have anything to do with Nazis, but it seems unlikely to me that those who have attained this exalted state of mind can be many in number.

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  13. Michael Bryan says:

    Seems that we should have a public black list dossier on those neocons who pushed and participated in administering the Iraq war. Unless these people are made more infamous, they will inevitably sneak back into positions of influence. Of course, I think the practice of post-term impeachments to prevent future holding of offices of public trust would be ideal. Perhaps a wiki of Iraq war fascists with a complete detailing of their involvement would be a good resource to start with.

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  14. Sage says:

    Unmask, thank you for laying bare the rank anti-Jew attitude that so many in the left field of the blogospehere –who lack your forthrightness- try to hide behind their artifice and cant. If you want to keep turning Jewish liberal Democrats into Lieberman Independents, and maybe even McCain or Giuliani Republicans, by all means keep it up.

    Reply

  15. my two cents worth says:

    I don’t think all the Iraqi dead – 650,000 and counting by some estimates – would care what word is applied to those that slaughtered them. Nazi is as good as any.

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  16. Easy E says:

    …feel free to add your favorite neo, think tank group or war industry to the list.
    Posted by: Carroll at February 4, 2007 02:02 AM
    Don’t forget Rupert Murdoch.
    http://scoop.epluribusmedia.org/story/2007/2/3/20443/36412
    as well as entire leadership and major financial supporters of AEI, AIPAC, JINSA, PNAC, etc., etc.

    Reply

  17. liz says:

    Get rid of think tanks. Purge the parties of the traitors and they are traitors ,people. And good heavens, this is why people do not like Soros. They are frightened of his sense……. and Americans like serving the powers that be. I am not surprised at the Dems in turn coats. But I think those Dems may be surprised at what happens on the next ballot if they continue to sell out the American people. Give the Neocons to Mexico… or Latin America… just get them out of America.And let’s do something and do it quickly and get this black spot off of our future

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  18. featherfamily says:

    Louis Vandenberg, well said! And with Unmask and Carrol, the movement begins to form …

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    To kick off the de nazification purge I suggest we start with these :
    Elliott Abrams
    Paul Wolfowitz
    Douglas Feith
    Dalck Feith
    Richard Perle
    Irving Kristol
    Bill Kristol
    Norman Podhoretz
    Midge Decter
    Robert Kagan
    Michael Ledeen
    Daniel Pipes
    Barbara Ledeen
    David Wurmser
    Meyrav Wurmser
    Frank Gaffney
    James Woosley
    Scooter Libby
    Steven Cambone
    Harold Rhodes
    Michael Rubin
    Stephen Bryen
    Randy Scheunemann
    Abram N. Shulsky
    Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Charles Krauthammer
    Max Boot
    …feel free to add your favorite neo, think tank group or war industry to the list.

    Reply

  20. UnMask911 says:

    “…..and their own disloyalty to the national interests of the United States of America.
    We do need a political purge in this country. We need accountability — and we need to face up to the terrible mistakes and — yes — the horror in some cases that our actions have unleashed”
    And out loud, publically, until heard say again and again that Zionist Israel’s interests are NOT part and parcel of the national interests of the US. Neocon is euphemism for Zionist and the disaster in the Middle East is directly attributable to Zionist meddling. And to mention Nazi Germany in any reference to the militaristic behaviors of the US is implying that Israel is deeply involved, and they are, in the very holocaust of which they claim sole propietorship as victim. And such mention might also lead to long overdue scrutiny of the war crimes and holocaust perpetrated by Zionist Israel against Palestine.
    It is not too far fetched to say that our entire federal political structure has been hijacked. Domestically by right wing Christians and foreign policy by Zionists. Dangerous extremists both. Whether Soros or anyone else, unmasking the zionist holocaust trump card or claiming any part of the Nazi “narrative” other than Jews-as-victim, as opposed to Israel/US as perpetrator, will, of course, bring the loudest howls from zionist plants like Peretz. We spend far too much time in a pretzel about Muslim extremism when our government is run by religious extremists walking us right to the brink of unimaginable catastrophe. It can get worse, and without a purge of these extremists, it most surely will and possibly very soon. With Fitzgerald blowing serious smoke up the VP’s butt, expect a desperate response soon. Very likely initiated by Israel, the holocaust whiners and the nation with the most flagrant and numerous violations of UN resoulutions.
    Exposing and purging the virulence of zionism from our govt will be an essential first step to correcting foreign policy and rebuilding any credibility and alliances with other nations. As for the faux Christians and domestic issues….I guess that’s a whole other chapter. We are a long way down a dark alley and it’s questionable whether we’ll make it out alive.

    Reply

  21. Louis Vandenberg says:

    Soros not only has the right, but the authority, to say what he says. He knows well of which he speaks. His life experience empowers him to recognize what is plainly obvious.
    The neocons have not merely helped to guide Bush into history’s compost heap, and this nation into the Iraq catastrophe, they have been misguided and wrong about everything for decades. And not just wrong–disastrously wrong, and malignant in their necrotic workings.
    I agree with Joseph Wilson’s take on them, that they have no place in the traditions of American politics, that they are parasites who have found a willing host in the Republican party. Through that party, they–in actuality a tiny nearly immeasurable minority of our population–have taken control of this nation. With that control, like the comic book villains they are, they dreamt of a world conformed to their delusions.
    But, reality shows us that they have brought shame and ruin to everything they have touched, except themselves, thus far. They have brought America to an historic nadir, destroying our power, militarily, economically, diplomatically and the power of our ideas, morals and traditions. They now want to push us into the abyss of a war on Iran, their geopolitical apocalyptic masterpiece of “creative destruction.” They are criminals, miscreants and lunatics. They have exploited American pluralism and openness, via their Leninist “power of audacity” to corrupt our systems and safeguards and turn the United States to what is plainly a dark purpose, in democratic evangelical drag. Again, Soros knows whereof he speaks, and he is dead right.
    The psychological forensics on the neocons are fertile with disorders, flush with projection, reaction formation, narcissism, authoritarianism, paranoia and much more–a formidable stew of pure poison. Their ideological pedigree, acknowledged and not, belongs to another time, when their soul-brethren drank in the reptilian creed, with its timeless and defining characteristics of greed, arrogance, dehumanization, cruelty, racism, fear and hate, and moved nations, with fanatic conviction, to murder and suicide.
    What kind of people make torture a practice and policy? Who brought that disgrace upon us? The neocons are just the current face of a recurring theme in human history.
    For years, I’ve been using the term “de-neofication” for what Soros is communicating. You can say it in a variety of ways. But the truth is that American democracy and neocon ideology are incompatible. They are pathology. Soros is correct, absolutely correct. The neocons have got to go, from politics, from the press, from all of it. How to do it? Oppose, push-back and expose them. Full transparency. Daylight and common sense are the enemies of the neocon. And also, let their criminality know the law and meet its just consequences. They must not prevail.

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  22. Jon Stopa says:

    A de-Neoconification process! I have been looking for the right word. Maybe we can have the trials in Nuremberg. These people must be driven from public life for ever. No more President Nixon type pardons.
    I found your comments on Japan very interesting and informative (elsewhere), having spent a year there in ’59-’60. At the time I kept wondering how Nobusuke Kishi got into power.
    So far Wesly Clark is my man.

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  23. km4 says:

    > We do need a political purge in this country. We need accountability…
    Great post Steve Clemons !
    On that note Wes Clark is least likely to be ‘influenced’ by lobbyists i.e. Corporate and Political (like AIPAC ). Just saying what would be implicit not explicit with respect to other candidates whose ‘careers’ have been built on corporate donors and politics rather than ‘hands on’ operational experience and leadership.
    I’m tired of platitudes and rhetoric in speeches. I want substance that’s put into practice. Wes Clark ‘walks the talk’ with superior leadership and experience.

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  24. John says:

    Kudos to George Soros and Steve for advocating for a purge. A truth and reconciliation commission would be a welcome development, too: exempting Bush, Blair and their acolytes from prosecution for war crimes in return for telling the truth.
    The problem with the Soros program is that it does not go far enough. It needs to acknowledge the root causes of the fiasco. Reed Hundt quotes “a former general who while on active service ran an army engaged in conflict with a major Muslim nation.” This general states that “the Vice President’s essential thesis [is that] the American military must be firmly installed in the Middle East until the end of oil, and until anti-American Islamic fervor fades away, no matter how long that may take. He sees American dependence on Middle Eastern oil lasting at least 60 to 80 years, notwithstanding the impact on the environment, not to mention the current account deficit.”
    Neo-cons have much to atone for, as they aggressively created an intellectual cover for oil occupation by turning it into a “noble cause”: freedom, democracy, WMD, and the rest of the BS. Realists also have much to atone for, as they refused to acknowledge the reality of “vital strategic interests” being code words for “oil and natural gas.” Most of the rest have much atone for, for we were content to remain ignorant to the inter-related issues of global warming and fighting for oil.
    There is much truth and reconciliation to be done. We can start by talking frankly about the future of energy and forcing those in power to talk about it as well. This includes you, Steve.

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  25. Kevin Hayden says:

    Mullah Comic (transposed). It took me a sec to realize that was satire. My Tel Aviv masters? Actually, mine work the Borscht Belt in the Catskills.

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  26. Kevin Hayden says:

    Thanks, Ben Fox. As I have a longtime friend who worked for years in the prison system, indeed, he tells me how isolation breeds mental illness. It is as criminal there as it is in Guantanamo.
    And Steve, I well understand how people kneejerk when ‘Nazi’ gets introduced into any topic, even when done benignly so, as Soros did.
    But had he made any analogy besides that, would it have made a difference to the pompious asses of hubris, who seem so sociopathic in their unconcern for the real lives they’ve destroyed?
    I seriously doubt it. Moral suasion doesn’t work with those who lack the capacity to feel shame. At best, you can establish a cost-benefit ratio that they ‘get’ so they’ll reform out of self-interest.
    I would add that Victor Frankl is another great force that arose from the ashpile of the Nazi contribution. He taught how to change the world within; Soros tries to teach it sociologically.
    Fortnately Soros seems to have sufficiently thick skin to not dwell on the moral mosquitoes flitting by. But it’s important that others do as you have done, and compel us to look at the truth.
    Soros’ isn’t motivated now by greed, nor political purpose. He is motivated by a desire to advance peaceful conditions for greater numbers of people.
    His detractors never even get to that essence, because their POV is so narrow.
    Thanks for addressing this so well.

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  27. Mullah Cimoc says:

    Mullah Cimoc say ameriki now punished so much for killing muslims for beneift of the israeli and neocon.
    History so obvious for invaders of babylon. babylon eat armies so many times. Even tamerlane descendants run away.
    This war message from bible for ameriki people. Each slaughter and killing of iraki or destroying lives of innocent people ameriki just destroy themself. Each day more ameriki woman take the LBT (low back tatoo)kick man from house with protective order from lesbian judge and family destroy. now ameriki have no more children. ameriki society is infertile. This like field of wheat now dead forever.
    All this for obey and be odedient slave (like dog) of masters in tel aviv.

    Reply

  28. Steve Clemons says:

    DCPolicyWonk — You ask me to make public our own funding relationships between the New America Foundation and George Soros’s foundations. It is a matter of public record that the New America Foundation wireless program, social contract program and some other activities are recipients of grants from the Open Society Institute. My own writing about Soros and his work far preceded any connection with him or his foundations whatsoever.
    My much more robust relationship has been with The New Republic which employs many of our former fellows — and from which we have drawn fellows. We frequently publish in The New Republic — and from a depth and length of relationship perspective, the New Republic has far more profound links into the New America Foundation operation than George Soros’s philanthropy.
    I appreciate your note though and wanted to make clear both relationships. My own commentary was unaffected by these relationships one way or the other. I write about many people, issues, and institutions with which I have relationships — and with which I don’t.
    Thanks for acknowledging the sincerity of my post.
    best regards,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  29. Ben Fox says:

    By BEN FOX
    Associated Press Writer
    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) – Abdul Helil Mamut’s good behavior earned him a spot in a medium-security compound at the Guantanamo Bay prison, where he slept in a barracks, shared leisurely meals with other prisoners and could spend more than half the day in an outdoor recreation area.
    But in December, the detainee was among dozens transferred from Camp 4 to the maximum-security Camp 6, the newest section of Guantanamo Bay’s military prison.
    Now Mamut, an ethnic Uighur from China captured in Pakistan, spends all but two hours a day isolated in his cell. He eats and prays by himself. His only recreation comes in a concrete courtyard surrounded by high walls, separated from other prisoners by a chain-link fence.
    The U.S. government says the unit provides detainees with more private and comfortable quarters.
    But Mamut and other Uighur prisoners complain their days are now filled with “infinite tedium and loneliness,” said Sabin Willett, an attorney for the men, in an affidavit filed in a Washington court.
    “All expressed a desperate desire for sunlight, fresh air and someone to speak to,” Willett wrote after a January visit to the prison, located on the U.S. military base in southeastern Cuba, where the U.S. holds nearly 400 men suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.
    Wells Dixon, who also represents Uighurs held at Guantanamo, predicted the lack of human interaction in Camp 6 will cause detainees to lose their grip on reality.
    “It will very soon become an insane asylum,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview after he returned from the base in January.
    The military, however, says Camp 6 has improved the lives of detainees
    A guard at Camp 6, an Army sergeant whose name cannot be disclosed under military rules, insisted that the prisoners prefer the new air-conditioned cells and the privacy.
    “It’s kind of like having their own apartment,” he said.
    Camp 6 houses about 160 men – more than a third of the total at Guantanamo – and is similar to the highest-security U.S. prisons, even though no one at the prison has been convicted.
    When the first detainees arrived in the new unit in December, they found on their bunks two pieces of baklava – a sweet pastry common in the Middle East – to welcome them to their new quarters, according to one prison official.
    Originally, Camp 6 was going to be more like Camp 4, with detainees allowed to congregate in a common area and share meals. But the commander of the detention center, Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, said that plan changed after 10 detainees attacked guards in Camp 4 last May and three prisoners committed suicide in June in Camp 1.
    “Our understanding of the detainees improved and evolved,” Harris said.
    In Camp 6, guards handcuff detainees through a slot in the steel door before escorting them to the recreation area.
    “They never touch another living thing,” Willett said. “They never see, smell, or touch plants, soil, the sea or any creature, except insects.”
    Willett said he does not know why Mamut, who is about 30, or the other Uighurs were moved out of Camp 4. The military will not discuss individual detainees or decisions about their custody – but officials say tight security is warranted in all cases.
    “I firmly believe that the detainee population that we have right now is literally still at war with us,” said Army Col. Wade Dennis, the detention center warden. “We have to be constantly vigilant.”
    Willett believes Mamut does not deserve to be in a high-security section, saying he is among the more than 100 detainees slated for release or transfer from Guantanamo.
    Uighurs have been accused by China of leading a violent Islamic separatist movement in the western province of Xinjiang, though their supporters say Beijing uses claims of terrorism as an excuse to crack down on peaceful pro-independence sentiment.
    Under U.S. law, they cannot be deported to China because of concern they could face political persecution. Five Uighurs were sent to Albania last year, but other countries have been unwilling to accept the 17 or so remaining in Guantanamo.
    Camp 6 was built for $37 million by KBR, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton Co. The military has transferred prisoners there from other parts of the detention center, including from Camps 1, 2 and 3, where detainees were held in steel mesh cells that allowed them to easily communicate with each other but also left guards vulnerable to being spat upon or splashed with other bodily fluids.
    Another unit, Camp 5, is reserved for the least compliant and “high value” detainees, who are also kept in individual, solid-wall cells and also allowed outside for only 2 hours a day of recreation in an enclosed area.
    Camp 4, where detainees could spend 12-14 hours a day outside and could congregate freely, now holds about 35 prisoners, down from about 180 at the time of the attack on guards in May. Harris said it will never return to its previous size.

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  30. janinsanfran says:

    Good for Soros — but really who pays any attention to Peretz? He’s a tired old apologist for fascism. Yes, we need de-Nazification, if we aren’t too far gone, Dems as well as Reps. We’ll probably have to suffer on the home front before we get it.
    Poor world.

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  31. PW says:

    Juan Cole devoted a paragraph this morning to the advisers who are doing their damnedest to get us into Iraq. And who the latest Chalabi is. Very much worth a read.
    Of course, at the end of World War II and nasty truths began to emerge, the German people found that the country they feared the most was… Germany. Hence the stringent controls built into their law after 1946. I think there are many Americans — I’m certainly one of them — who fear America now more than any single nation. The Nazi mentality — “we can do anything we want and the fact that we’re doing it makes it okay” — is not just a feature of the Bush White House but seems to have quite a few voters in its grip. That’s the scary part of this.
    The worst loss next to what we’ve lost to “war of choice” has been the loss of reliable media. The truth would help turn many Americans around, but too many distrust the media. It’s too easy to dismiss unpalatable fact as bias thanks to a corrupt media on the right.

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  32. Carroll says:

    And furthermore…
    I don’t see how anyone could miss the nazi like tactics of this adm…staring with the holy grail of “protecting the Motherland” as an excuse for their agenda..and then demonizing the Muslims as the new jews on horseback…trying to control the media messages for their propaganda….bypassing the laws they don’t like and making new ones to suit their purpose..trying to expand US power by rolling into other countries with the military or the CIA….the only thing that has held back more people from calling a nazi a nazi is they are still under the delusion they live in a democracy.
    We don’t have to be EXACTLY like the nazis, we don’t have to have gone as far as the nazis eventually went to have the same nazi mentality…and it’s the “mentality” that counts.
    For the past several years I have been calling the US Uncle nazi and Israel the midget nazis and I stick by it unless someone can come up with a better term than nazi to describe both.

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  33. Robert Morrow says:

    The Republican party is split over the issue of immigration and the Democratic party is split over a neocon foreign policy and support for Israel.

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  34. Carroll says:

    Sorry, but while Soros is right about the monumental stupidity and arrogance of the people who brought us the war, he is a fool to use terms like de-Nazification process. Comparing the US to the Nazis does not play well with the kind of people we are trying to get to vote Democratic next time in places like Ohio. This kind of rhetoric only plays into the hands of people like Peretz. Just ask Dick Durbin.
    Posted by JHM at February 3, 2007 11:56 AM
    >>>>>>>>>
    I don’t want to be nasty but there is a vast body of poeple out here who don’t give a rat’s ass about the dems or repubs, we are disgusted with all the “party boys”. In my opinion the people who cleave to a “party’ are, to put it bluntly, simple minded fools themselves who are in large part responsible for this entrenched two family mafia system of goverment.

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  35. thehim says:

    Wow. Well said. George Soros’ unique life experience and his very sharp intellect have given him the ability to see the patterns that emerge when a nation falls prey to collective delusion based on fear (which is why he’s such a prominent opponent of the war on drugs as well).
    It doesn’t happen in quite in same way in every culture, but when it happens, there are some very clear similarities. Soros sees a lot of those similarities now and if we’re smart, we’ll listen to him.

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  36. DCPolicyWonk says:

    Mr. Clemons
    Speaking of exposing personal relationships, you may want to divulge the fact that George Soros is a significant donor to the New America Foundation and has bankrolled some of the initiatives with which you are involved.
    I don’t doubt the sincerity of your views on Mr. Soros, but you do no favors to your credibility by omitting this fact from your post.

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  37. Carroll says:

    Good for Soros…I like him, but I think he is sometimes too ceberal and lofty and doesn’t think enough about what he could do for/with common people power on this problem.
    He should take some of his ten of billions and start educating and infiltrating the portion of the uninformed and uninvolved masses and turn them into an army of purgers. It’s for sure the powers in this country of both parties aren’t going to purge themselves.

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  38. Glenn Smith says:

    The hypocrisy of the New Republic is staggering. And I agree with Steve about the duty to defend Soros. Especially from attacks like Peretz’s, which are intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt, and intended only to attack a source of funds for progressive causes and candidates.
    A quick search of the magazine produced many positive references to another East European, Vaclav Havel, who spoke warnings to the West similar to Soros’ remarks at Davos. Of course, Havel, the Czech dissident, was celebrated as an anti-communist.
    But, in his essay “The Power of the Powerless” and elsewhere, Havel spoke eloquently about the rising totalitarian tide in America and other “western” countries. Havel didn’t use the word “Nazi,” but his views were very similar to Soros’. In fact, both were greatly influenced by the same Czech thinker, the martyred philosopher and Charter 77 spokesman Jan Patocka.
    I draw this parallel to point out that Peretz’s attack is personal and tactical, ignoring the substance of Soros’ statement that Iraq was a moral and political disaster, a mistake of world-shaking proportions, and that it’s up to us to remember and to heal, ourselves and our reputation around the world. But when it doesn’t serve the immediate tactical goals of someone like Peretz, forget context and perspective.
    Even in recent years, TNR writers flattered Havel.
    Robert Conquest called him the “leading intellectual and moral survivor” of Eastern European totalitarianism.
    Michael Kinsley even quoted Havel in the pages of TNR talking about “shared responsibility for a ‘contaminated moral atmosphere'”.
    On Soros’ use of the term Nazi, I’d add that it’s very dangerous to capitulate to arguments that the Nazis were historically unique, that there are no possible parallels between today’s right wing authoritarians and the Nazis. There ARE similarities. Whether or not the use of the term is particularly useful in today’s political context is another matter. But the fact that the right jumps on it — and the left, too, for that matter — is more worrisome than any concern about its potential to alienate potential supporters.

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  39. Marcia says:

    Are there really people who still read Peretz? I find that astounding. I got TNR off my computer long ago, his peddling of Chalabi was enough to demand that.
    In Neocon eyes Mr Soros has the supplementary sin of class betrayal due to being very wealthy.
    Mr.Soros sees, as we do, the fascist techniques used to implement the Cheney-Bush strategy, to impose fear and control policies despite public opposition. Real danger lies ahead, all the necessary tools are in place for much worse; it will take only a pretext to see, as in New Orleans, the levees topped and crumbling.
    Netanyahou was beating the war drums on all the media at the same time with Perle, Ledeen, Kristol, Krauthammer and the long long list of officials inside the administration.
    This invasion was desired, planned and carried out by well informed inviduals, not country bumpkins blinded by the fast talk of city slickers.
    Ours is a long history of violence, broken treaties, remember the Indians, and foreign intervention, Cuba, South America, the Philippines, the overthrow of Mossadeq,Vietnam etc. The difference is that this is the first time the mask is off…Pre-emptive War declared a doctrine by our elected head of state.
    What position do the candidates take on another attack on a foreign country? They seem to agree. except for the modalities.
    I cannot help wondering what the reaction would be if this Iraq disaster had been a success? Are people against the policy or the failure?
    Nixon got off the hook, so allowed the return of Cheney with fangs bared. Crimes are being commited and no punishment is on the table.
    Mr. Soros is right!

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  40. Pissed Off American says:

    “We do need a political purge in this country. We need accountability — and we need to face up to the terrible mistakes and — yes — the horror in some cases that our actions have unleashed.”
    Steve, it is statements like that that prompt me to wonder at the seeming conflict of convictions that many of your comments and postings portray. If you truly advocate such a “purging”, why do you consistently pimp for the very kinds of politicians that should be the targets of such a “purge”, while ignoring the politicians that have consistenly argued for accountability?
    And the invasion of Iraq was not some ill concieved “mistake”. It was CRIME, of epic proportions, that DEMANDS that we hold the perpetrators accountable, through impeachment, indictment, trials, and appropriate sentencing.
    Get off the fence Steve. You cannot pimp the Bidens and the Hillarys with any conviction if you are making the above statement with any conviction. Or, vice-versa.

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  41. Easy E says:

    I understand that Soros backs Obama (but hedges his bet).
    Great to hear, in view of Hillary’s pandering to her benefactors on using force to stop Iran
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1153AP_Clinton_Iran.html

    Reply

  42. Easy E says:

    Great article, Steve.
    Soros is a tremendous resource for positive change.
    His support for an alternative to AIPAC is a plus.
    http://jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=17151&intcategoryid=3
    Would be great to see him help reform U.S. Media system.

    Reply

  43. Easy E says:

    Great article, Steve.
    I believe Soros is a tremendous resource for change.
    His support for an alternative to AIPAC is a plus.
    http://jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=17151&intcategoryid=3
    Hopefully he will also get involved in helping to reform today’s U.S. Media system.

    Reply

  44. profmarcus says:

    yes, we do… we most certainly do… we very BADLY need a political purge, and waiting for it until january 2009 is unacceptable…
    http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  45. DonS says:

    Who has a right more to use “de-nazification”, approvingly and with authority, than a Jew of such stature?
    While point taken, JHM, the issues is a lot bigger than the Ohio elections. The exact point is that there is a transformational process that must take place, not more of the same.
    ______
    On the self-awareness shown, per Den’s comment, I agree.

    Reply

  46. Den Valdron says:

    Perhaps JHM, Soros like many other people has just stopped caring about the opinions of people in Ohio, or Bugtussle, or New York or wherever.
    Let’s face it, with leading Democrats now supporting war with Iran and claiming “all options must be on the table”, with a resolution against the Iraq war reduced to non-binding froth, I think that there is a perception in the rest of the world that America is a mad dog, out of control.
    We shouldn’t call you Nazi’s because it will hurt your feelings? SFW?
    The truth is that it appears you will not stop yourselves, that your countries leadership is bent on its mad course and there is no will and no real opposition.
    The American people have become as sheep, following blindly along, or they’ve become ravening dogs baying for blood. The distinction may be important to the sheep or dogs. But to the rest of us, it is a difference without a distinction. The key is the harm that you do, and in this respect, you seem bent upon doing it, and have no will to stop.
    If America will not stop itself, then sooner or later it must be stopped. This is the awful dialogue the world is beginning to engage. How to stop America.

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  47. Frank says:

    I quit reading TNR years ago when I came to the conclusion that it was just another clever apologetic mouthpiece rag for Israel. I kept the subscription going for years only for the art critique columns of Stanley Kaufman. Ridiculous commentary by the likes of Peretz was one of the reasons for quiting.
    When in library I peruse TNR occasionally to determine whether it has changed ..This Peretz article reinforces my reason for cancelling that subscription.

    Reply

  48. Den Valdron says:

    This is a remarkably self aware post on Steve’s part. My compliments.

    Reply

  49. JHM says:

    Sorry, but while Soros is right about the monumental stupidity and arrogance of the people who brought us the war, he is a fool to use terms like de-Nazification process. Comparing the US to the Nazis does not play well with the kind of people we are trying to get to vote Democratic next time in places like Ohio. This kind of rhetoric only plays into the hands of people like Peretz. Just ask Dick Durbin.

    Reply

  50. DonS says:

    This is a tough post, and rightly identifies the thorough house cleaning and soul searching that the American government needs. Some would call it a need for revolution, but whatever the name, the implicaton is clear and it indicts those with their hands on the levers of power, and those who have abetted them, of both parties.
    Some should be outright fired, purged. Some need to make abject, honest appologies, and admissions of their lack of understanding, courage, or both.
    Soros has the power and position, and age to speak without nefarious motive, if he is good and honest. He is no wild eyed liberal it seems, but an honest man. They hate him for it; as if all the rich barons in the world must line up behind the reactionary structure. I identify with his Hungarian Jew past; that’s mine as well (one generation removed), so perhaps I’m prone to be convinced. I don’t think so. It takes a big person, especially a Jew, to cite the German experience without hedging. It takes a forward thinking person, operating out of realistic hope, not fear.
    I do not know enough abough the specifics of how Germany attempted to exocise its Nazi past, but apparently it was successful enough that rising generations were quite able to keep questioning and getting tough answers.
    I’m waiting for the process to begin. I hope America is up to it. I wish the sentiments in this post, coming from a relative insider, could begin to gain steady currency as the way forward. I expect it needs to be said to those who want least to hear it. And said consistently and repeatedly. And it will not win “friends”.

    Reply

  51. Kathleen says:

    Amen and then some. Thank you, Gerorge Soros, for your benvolence and vigilance in the cause of preserving freedom on our planet.
    Neocons hide behind advancing Democray to further capitolism. They care nothing about freedom and everything about profit, regrdless of the blood spilled to keep their bottom line cranking.

    Reply

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