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The Bubble of American Supremacy
A prominent financier argues that the heedless
assertion of American power in the world resembles
a financial bubble—and the moment of truth may
by George Soros
I t is generally agreed that September 11, 2001, changed the
course of history. But we must ask ourselves why that should be
so. How could a single event, even one involving 3,000 civilian
casualties, have such a far-reaching effect? The answer lies not so
much in the event itself as in the way the United States, under the
leadership of President George W. Bush, responded to it.
Admittedly, the terrorist attack was historic in its own right. Hijacking
fully fueled airliners and using them as suicide bombs was an
audacious idea, and its execution could not have been more
spectacular. The destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade
Center made a symbolic statement that reverberated around the
world, and the fact that people could watch the event on their
television sets endowed it with an emotional impact that no terrorist
act had ever achieved before. The aim of terrorism is to terrorize, and
the attack of September 11 fully accomplished this objective.
Even so, September 11 could not have changed the course of history
to the extent that it has if President Bush had not responded to it the
way he did. He declared war on terrorism, and under that guise
implemented a radical foreign-policy agenda whose underlying
principles predated the tragedy. Those principles can be summed up
as follows: International relations are relations of power, not law;
power prevails and law legitimizes what prevails. The United States is
unquestionably the dominant power in the post-Cold War world; it is
therefore in a position to impose its views, interests, and values. The
world would benefit from adopting those values, because the
American model has demonstrated its superiority. The Clinton and
first Bush Administrations failed to use the full potential of American
power. This must be corrected; the United States must find a way to
assert its supremacy in the world.
This foreign policy is part of a comprehensive ideology customarily
referred to as neoconservatism, though I prefer to describe it as a
crude form of social Darwinism. I call it crude because it ignores the
role of cooperation in the survival of the fittest, and puts all the
emphasis on competition. In economic matters the competition is
between firms; in international relations it is between states. In
economic matters social Darwinism takes the form of market
fundamentalism; in international relations it is now leading to the
pursuit of American supremacy.
Not all the members of the Bush Administration subscribe to this
ideology, but neoconservatives form an influential group within it.
They publicly called for the invasion of Iraq as early as 1998. Their
ideas originated in the Cold War and were further elaborated in the
post-Cold War era. Before September 11 the ideologues were
hindered in implementing their strategy by two considerations: George
W. Bush did not have a clear mandate (he became President by virtue
of a single vote in the Supreme Court), and America did not have a
clearly defined enemy that would have justified a dramatic increase in
September 11 removed both obstacles. President Bush declared war
on terrorism, and the nation lined up behind its President. Then the
Bush Administration proceeded to exploit the terrorist attack for its
own purposes. It fostered the fear that has gripped the country in
order to keep the nation united behind the President, and it used the
war on terrorism to execute an agenda of American supremacy. That
is how September 11 changed the course of history.
Exploiting an event to further an agenda is not in itself reprehensible. It
is the task of the President to provide leadership, and it is only natural
for politicians to exploit or manipulate events so as to promote their
policies. The cause for concern lies in the policies that Bush is
promoting, and in the way he is going about imposing them on the
United States and the world. He is leading us in a very dangerous
the supremacist ideology of the Bush Administration stands in
opposition to the principles of an open society, which recognize
that people have different views and that nobody is in
possession of the ultimate truth. The supremacist ideology
postulates that just because we are stronger than others, we know
better and have right on our side. The very first sentence of the
September 2002 National Security Strategy (the President's annual
laying out to Congress of the country's security objectives) reads,
"The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and
totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of
freedom—and a single sustainable model for national success:
freedom, democracy, and free enterprise."
The assumptions behind this statement are false on two counts. First,
there is no single sustainable model for national success. Second, the
American model, which has indeed been successful, is not available to
others, because our success depends greatly on our dominant position
at the center of the global capitalist system, and we are not willing to
The Bush doctrine, first enunciated in a presidential speech at West
Point in June of 2002, and incorporated into the National Security
Strategy three months later, is built on two pillars: the United States
will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military
supremacy; and the United States arrogates the right to pre-emptive
action. In effect, the doctrine establishes two classes of sovereignty:
the sovereignty of the United States, which takes precedence over
international treaties and obligations; and the sovereignty of all other
states, which is subject to the will of the United States. This is
reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: all animals are equal,
but some animals are more equal than others.
To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated so starkly; it is shrouded in
doublespeak. The doublespeak is needed because of the
contradiction between the Bush Administration's concept of freedom
and democracy and the actual principles and requirements of freedom
and democracy. Talk of spreading democracy looms large in the
National Security Strategy. But when President Bush says, as he does
frequently, that freedom will prevail, he means that America will
prevail. In a free and open society, people are supposed to decide for
themselves what they mean by freedom and democracy, and not
simply follow America's lead. The contradiction is especially apparent
in the case of Iraq, and the occupation of Iraq has brought the issue
home. We came as liberators, bringing freedom and democracy, but
that is not how we are perceived by a large part of the population.
It is ironic that the government of the most successful open society in
the world should have fallen into the hands of people who ignore the
first principles of open society. At home Attorney General John
Ashcroft has used the war on terrorism to curtail civil liberties.
Abroad the United States is trying to impose its views and interests
through the use of military force. The invasion of Iraq was the first
practical application of the Bush doctrine, and it has turned out to be
counterproductive. A chasm has opened between America and the
rest of the world.
The size of the chasm is impressive. On September 12, 2001, a
special meeting of the North Atlantic Council invoked Article 5 of the
NATO Treaty for the first time in the alliance's history, calling on all
member states to treat the terrorist attack on the United States as an
attack upon their own soil. The United Nations promptly endorsed
punitive U.S. action against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. A little more
than a year later the United States could not secure a UN resolution
to endorse the invasion of Iraq. Gerhard Schröder won re-election in
Germany by refusing to cooperate with the United States. In South
Korea an underdog candidate was elected to the presidency because
he was considered the least friendly to the United States; many South
Koreans regard the United States as a greater danger to their security
than North Korea. A large majority throughout the world opposed
the war on Iraq.
September 11 introduced a discontinuity into American foreign
policy. Violations of American standards of behavior that would
have been considered objectionable in ordinary times became
accepted as appropriate to the circumstances. The abnormal, the
radical, and the extreme have been redefined as normal. The
advocates of continuity have been pursuing a rearguard action ever
To explain the significance of the transition, I should like to draw on
my experience in the financial markets. Stock markets often give rise
to a boom-bust process, or bubble. Bubbles do not grow out of thin
air. They have a basis in reality—but reality as distorted by a
misconception. Under normal conditions misconceptions are
self-correcting, and the markets tend toward some kind of
equilibrium. Occasionally, a misconception is reinforced by a trend
prevailing in reality, and that is when a boom-bust process gets under
way. Eventually the gap between reality and its false interpretation
becomes unsustainable, and the bubble bursts.
Exactly when the boom-bust process enters far-from-equilibrium
territory can be established only in retrospect. During the
self-reinforcing phase participants are under the spell of the prevailing
bias. Events seem to confirm their beliefs, strengthening their
misconceptions. This widens the gap and sets the stage for a moment
of truth and an eventual reversal. When that reversal comes, it is liable
to have devastating consequences. This course of events seems to
have an inexorable quality, but a boom-bust process can be aborted
at any stage, and the adverse effects can be reduced or avoided
altogether. Few bubbles reach the extremes of the
information-technology boom that ended in 2000. The sooner the
process is aborted, the better.
The quest for American supremacy qualifies as a bubble. The
dominant position the United States occupies in the world is the
element of reality that is being distorted. The proposition that the
United States will be better off if it uses its position to impose its
values and interests everywhere is the misconception.
It is exactly by not abusing its power that America
attained its current position.
Where are we in this boom-bust process? The deteriorating situation
in Iraq is either the moment of truth or a test that, if it is successfully
overcome, will only reinforce the trend.
Whatever the justification for removing Saddam Hussein, there can be
no doubt that we invaded Iraq on false pretenses. Wittingly or
unwittingly, President Bush deceived the American public and
Congress and rode roughshod over the opinions of our allies. The gap
between the Administration's expectations and the actual state of
affairs could not be wider. It is difficult to think of a recent military
operation that has gone so wrong. Our soldiers have been forced to
do police duty in combat gear, and they continue to be killed. We
have put at risk not only our soldiers' lives but the combat
effectiveness of our armed forces. Their morale is impaired, and we
are no longer in a position to properly project our power. Yet there
are more places than ever before where we might have legitimate
need to project that power. North Korea is openly building nuclear
weapons, and Iran is clandestinely doing so. The Taliban is regrouping
in Afghanistan. The costs of occupation and the prospect of
permanent war are weighing heavily on our economy, and we are
failing to address many festering problems—domestic and global. If
we ever needed proof that the dream of American supremacy is
misconceived, the occupation of Iraq has provided it. If we fail to
heed the evidence, we will have to pay a heavier price in the future.
eanwhile, largely as a result of our preoccupation with
supremacy, something has gone fundamentally wrong with the
war on terrorism. Indeed, war is a false metaphor in this
context. Terrorists do pose a threat to our national and
personal security, and we must protect ourselves. Many of the
measures we have taken are necessary and proper. It can even be
argued that not enough has been done to prevent future attacks. But
the war being waged has little to do with ending terrorism or
enhancing homeland security; on the contrary, it endangers our
security by engendering a vicious circle of escalating violence.
The terrorist attack on the United States could have been treated as a
crime against humanity rather than an act of war. Treating it as a crime
would have been more appropriate. Crimes require police work, not
military action. Protection against terrorism requires precautionary
measures, awareness, and intelligence gathering—all of which
ultimately depend on the support of the populations among which the
terrorists operate. Imagine for a moment that September 11 had been
treated as a crime. We would not have invaded Iraq, and we would
not have our military struggling to perform police work and getting
Declaring war on terrorism better suited the purposes of the Bush
Administration, because it invoked military might; but this is the wrong
way to deal with the problem. Military action requires an identifiable
target, preferably a state. As a result the war on terrorism has been
directed primarily against states harboring terrorists. Yet terrorists are
by definition non-state actors, even if they are often sponsored by
The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush Administration cannot
be won. On the contrary, it may bring about a permanent state of
war. Terrorists will never disappear. They will continue to provide a
pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy. That pursuit, in turn,
will continue to generate resistance. Further, by turning the hunt for
terrorists into a war, we are bound to create innocent victims. The
more innocent victims there are, the greater the resentment and the
better the chances that some victims will turn into perpetrators.
The terrorist threat must be seen in proper perspective. Terrorism is
not new. It was an important factor in nineteenth-century Russia, and
it had a great influence on the character of the czarist regime,
enhancing the importance of secret police and justifying
authoritarianism. More recently several European countries—Italy,
Germany, Great Britain—had to contend with terrorist gangs, and it
took those countries a decade or more to root them out. But those
countries did not live under the spell of terrorism during all that time.
Granted, using hijacked planes for suicide attacks is something new,
and so is the prospect of terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.
To come to terms with these threats will take some adjustment; but
the threats cannot be allowed to dominate our existence. Exaggerating
them will only make them worse. The most powerful country on earth
cannot afford to be consumed by fear. To make the war on terrorism
the centerpiece of our national strategy is an abdication of our
responsibility as the leading nation in the world. Moreover, by
allowing terrorism to become our principal preoccupation, we are
playing into the terrorists' hands. They are setting our priorities.
recent Council on Foreign Relations publication sketches out
three alternative national-security strategies. The first calls for
the pursuit of American supremacy through the Bush doctrine
of pre-emptive military action. It is advocated by
neoconservatives. The second seeks the continuation of our earlier
policy of deterrence and containment. It is advocated by Colin Powell
and other moderates, who may be associated with either political
party. The third would have the United States lead a cooperative
effort to improve the world by engaging in preventive actions of a
constructive character. It is not advocated by any group of
significance, although President Bush pays lip service to it. That is the
policy I stand for.
The evidence shows the first option to be extremely dangerous, and I
believe that the second is no longer practical. The Bush
Administration has done too much damage to our standing in the
world to permit a return to the status quo. Moreover, the policies
pursued before September 11 were clearly inadequate for dealing
with the problems of globalization. Those problems require collective
action. The United States is uniquely positioned to lead the effort. We
cannot just do anything we want, as the Iraqi situation demonstrates,
but nothing much can be done in the way of international cooperation
without the leadership—or at least the participation—of the United
Globalization has rendered the world increasingly interdependent, but
international politics is still based on the sovereignty of states. What
goes on within individual states can be of vital interest to the rest of
the world, but the principle of sovereignty militates against interfering
in their internal affairs. How to deal with failed states and oppressive,
corrupt, and inept regimes? How to get rid of the likes of Saddam?
There are too many such regimes to wage war against every one. This
is the great unresolved problem confronting us today.
I propose replacing the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action
with preventive action of a constructive and affirmative nature.
Increased foreign aid or better and fairer trade rules, for example,
would not violate the sovereignty of the recipients. Military action
should remain a last resort. The United States is currently
preoccupied with issues of security, and rightly so. But the framework
within which to think about security is collective security. Neither
nuclear proliferation nor international terrorism can be successfully
addressed without international cooperation. The world is looking to
us for leadership. We have provided it in the past; the main reason
why anti-American feelings are so strong in the world today is that we
are not providing it in the present.
On the American home front
By Tim Wise
Ask a fish what water is and you'll get no answer. Even if fish were
capable of speech, they would likely have no explanation for the element
they swim in every minute of every day of their lives. Water simply is.
Fish take it for granted.
So too with this thing we hear so much about, "racial preference."
While many whites seem to think the notion originated with affirmative
action programs, intended to expand opportunities for historically
marginalized people of color, racial preference has actually had a long
and very white history.
Affirmative action for whites was embodied in the abolition of European
indentured servitude, which left black (and occasionally indigenous)
slaves as the only unfree labor in the colonies that would become the U.S.
Affirmative action for whites was the essence of the 1790 Naturalization
Act, which allowed virtually any European immigrant to become a full
citizen, even while blacks, Asians and American Indians could not.
Affirmative action for whites was the guiding principle of segregation,
Asian exclusion laws, and the theft of half of Mexico for the fulfillment
of Manifest Destiny.
In recent history, affirmative action for whites motivated racially
restrictive housing policies that helped 15 million white families procure
homes with FHA loans from the 1930s to the '60s, while people of color
were mostly excluded from the same programs.
In other words, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that white America is
the biggest collective recipient of racial preference in the history of
the cosmos. It has skewed our laws, shaped our public policy and helped
create the glaring inequalities with which we still live.
White families, on average, have a net worth that is 11 times the net
worth of black families, according to a recent study; and this gap remains
substantial even when only comparing families of like size, composition,
education and income status.
A full-time black male worker in 2003 makes less in real dollar terms than
similar white men were earning in 1967. Such realities are not merely
indicative of the disadvantages faced by blacks, but indeed are evidence
of the preferences afforded whites - a demarcation of privilege that is
the necessary flipside of discrimination.
Indeed, the value of preferences to whites over the years is so enormous
that the current baby-boomer generation of whites is currently in the
process of inheriting between $7-10 trillion in assets from their parents
and grandparents - property handed down by those who were able to
accumulate assets at a time when people of color by and large could not.
To place this in the proper perspective, we should note that this amount
of money is more than all the outstanding mortgage debt, all the credit
card debt, all the savings account assets, all the money in IRAs and 401k
retirement plans, all the annual profits for U.S. manufacturers, and our
entire merchandise trade deficit combined.
Yet few whites have ever thought of our position as resulting from racial
preferences. Indeed, we pride ourselves on our hard work and ambition, as
if somehow we invented the concepts.
As if we have worked harder than the folks who were forced to pick cotton
and build levies for free; harder than the Latino immigrants who spend 10
hours a day in fields picking strawberries or tomatoes; harder than the
(mostly) women of color who clean hotel rooms or change bedpans in
hospitals, or the (mostly) men of color who collect our garbage.
We strike the pose of self-sufficiency while ignoring the advantages we
have been afforded in every realm of activity: housing, education,
employment, criminal justice, politics, banking and business. We ignore
the fact that at almost every turn, our hard work has been met with access
to an opportunity structure denied to millions of others. Privilege, to
us, is like water to the fish: invisible precisely because we cannot
imagine life without it.
It is that context that best explains the duplicity of the President's
recent criticisms of affirmative action at the University of Michigan.
President Bush, himself a lifelong recipient of affirmative action - the
kind set aside for the mediocre rich - recently proclaimed that the
school's policies were examples of unfair racial preference. Yet in doing
so he not only showed a profound ignorance of the Michigan policy, but
made clear the inability of yet another white person to grasp the magnitude
of white privilege still in operation.
The President attacked Michigan's policy of awarding 20 points (on a
150-point evaluation scale) to undergraduate applicants who are members of
underrepresented minorities (which at U of M means blacks, Latinos and
American Indians). To many whites such a "preference" is blatantly
Bush failed to mention that greater numbers of points are awarded for
other things that amount to preferences for whites to the exclusion of
people of color.
For example, Michigan awards 20 points to any student from a low-income
background, regardless of race. Since these points cannot be combined with
those for minority status (in other words poor blacks don't get 40
points), in effect this is a preference for poor whites.
Then Michigan awards 16 points to students who hail from the Upper
Peninsula of the state: a rural, largely isolated, and almost completely
Of course both preferences are fair, based as they are on the recognition
that economic status and even geography (as with race) can have a profound
effect on the quality of K-12 schooling that one receives, and that no one
should be punished for things that are beyond their control. But note that
such preferences - though disproportionately awarded to whites - remain
uncriticized, while preferences for people of color become the target for
reactionary anger. Once again, white preference remains hidden because it
is more subtle, more ingrained, and isn't called white preference, even if
that's the effect.
But that's not all. Ten points are awarded to students who attended
top-notch high schools, and another eight points are given to students who
took an especially demanding AP and honors curriculum.
As with points for those from the Upper Peninsula, these preferences may
be race-neutral in theory, but in practice they are anything but. Because
of intense racial isolation (and Michigan's schools are the most
segregated in America for blacks, according to research by the Harvard
Civil Rights Project), students of color will rarely attend the "best"
schools, and on average, schools serving mostly black and Latino students
offer only a third as many AP and honors courses as schools serving mostly
So even truly talented students of color will be unable to access those
extra points simply because of where they live, their economic status and
ultimately their race, which is intertwined with both.
Four more points are awarded to students who have a parent who attended
the U of M: a kind of affirmative action with which the President is
intimately familiar, and which almost exclusively goes to whites.
Ironically, while alumni preference could work toward the interest of
diversity if combined with aggressive race-based affirmative action
(by creating a larger number of black and brown alums), the rollback of the
latter, combined with the almost guaranteed retention of the former, will
only further perpetuate white preference.
So the U of M offers 20 "extra" points to the typical black, Latino or
indigenous applicant, while offering various combinations worth up to 58
extra points for students who will almost all be white. But while the first
of these are seen as examples of racial preferences, the second are not,
hidden as they are behind the structure of social inequities that limit
where people live, where they go to school, and the kinds of opportunities
they have been afforded. White preferences, the result of the normal
workings of a racist society, can remain out of sight and out of mind,
while the power of the state is turned against the paltry preferences
meant to offset them.
Very telling is the oft-heard comment by whites, "If I had only been black
I would have gotten into my first-choice college."
Such a statement not only ignores the fact that whites are more likely
than members of any other group - even with affirmative action in place -
to get into their first-choice school, but it also presumes, as
black, everything else about their life would have remained the same."
In other words, that it would have made no negative difference as to where
they went to school, what their family income was, or anything else.
The ability to believe that being black would have made no difference
(other than a beneficial one when it came time for college), and that
being white has made no positive difference, is rooted in privilege itself:
the privilege that allows one to not have to think about race on a daily
basis; to not have one's intelligence questioned by best- selling books;
to not have to worry about being viewed as a "out of place" when driving,
shopping, buying a home, or for that matter, attending the University of
So long as those privileges remain firmly in place and the preferential
treatment that flows from those privileges continues to work to the
benefit of whites, all talk of ending affirmative action is not only
premature but a slap in the face to those who have fought, and died, for
[Tim Wise is an antiracist activist, essayist and lecturer. Send email to
At Skull and Bones, Bush's Secret Club Initiates Ream Gore
1.Try to remember that Spartan society was a completely Homosexual
cultural and religious military civilization and died out shortly after it
defeated all of its "enemies".Because it defeated "its" Enemies it
turned its energies on its own children and the rest as they say is
2. And the difference between Japan & China is not only the size but
the quiet ambition and longest unbroken view of human history extant
on this planet Earth.
They over came Opium and that servile Cooley labor Image they have
their ample supply of Nukes and some say a budding Middle class with
an appreciation of Populux which will only make them wish to travel the
globe as WE have done and soon after purchase as though they
invented money ( which they did) there aren't enough Diamond in South
Africa nor gold in the Swiss banks to match or "balance" there potential...
#3. If I were you I wouldn't give any more IQ test it only makes YOU look
stupid without really caring about that "superior" aspect as you do to
define yourself as crafty, inscrutable, ambiguous, Machiavellian, controoled
chaos,Draconian etc. the Chinese wrote the Frigging book slick...
Add to that list Fun Loving not complex Acetic Geezer Metaphysics
, Theosophy,Pataphicis whatever you try... there is what you have
done how you already have treated the "Other", its still on your breath
you cant fool any one but your self perhaps...ED
NO MATTER WHO THE PRESIDENT IS
IT CAN BE SAFELY ASSUMED HE MADE
A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL ...ED]
some inside pages
Seasons Greatings : Forwarding some of the favorite web sites sent my educator/moderator from the United Lodge of Theosophist: he is named Odin,after the Norse God ( I swear it is true!). H A P P Y T H A N K S G I V I NG!
Stefan ------ Some favorite web sites:
Who are these jerks