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Cycles of Cowardice By: Patrick Devenny
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Readers of the Wall Street Journal were subjected to an unexpected dose of abuse last Thursday, as billionaire investor turned liberal activist, George Soros, took out a full-page ad featuring his latest editorial, innocuously entitled “Reconsidering the War on Terror.”  Soros proceeded to use his rented platform to declare his disgust with the“war on terror” itself, detailing a list of policies, which, if enacted, would help the United States recover from its “tragic misconception.”  The overall purpose of the screed, as grandiosely stated by Soros, was to “challenge the very concept of the war on terror."  

Opposing the war is hardly a new pursuit for Mr. Soros, who poured over $23 million dollars of his vast fortune into various far-left efforts to defeat President Bush, including Moveon.org, the Center for American Progress, and Americans Coming Together.  On the campaign trail, Soros became the embodiment of the hateful left, making statements such as “George W. Bush revels in being a war president,” while calling America “a danger to the world.”

In his latest commentary, Soros rails against the basic idea of the “war on terror.”  The phrase’s militaristic connotation disgusts Soros, who argues that the war as fought by President Bush since 9/11 has been wholly “counterproductive.”  Indeed, the only reason the President engaged in such a war, according to Soros, was to continue “enhancing the powers and popularity of the President.”  However, as Soros and most anti-war activists neglect to mention, the war which they so fanatically oppose did not begin on 9/11 and was certainly not started by the Bush administration.  America’s struggle with radical Islam has been ongoing, taking on various forms for the past two decades, an inconvenient reality for those - like Soros - who seek to ascribe the ongoing conflict solely to the actions of the Bush administration


As a result of this supposed over-reliance on military action, the United States is creating more terrorists than it can kill.  Soros justifies this reasoning by stating that American violence is directly analogous to terrorist violence, fueling an endless cycle of vengeance and hatred overseas.  Such an inference is inaccurate and insults the members of the American military, who take extensive precautions in order to avoid killing innocent civilians.  Terrorists, on the other hand, specifically engineer their attacks to maximize civilian casualties.


While Soros fails to make this distinction, many of those recently liberated by American arms have apparently been able to do so.  After all, thousands of innocent Afghan civilians have been killed during the latest conflict, part of the collateral damage which regrettably colors all wars.  If Soros’ “cycle” argument is to be believed, we would be witnessing hundreds of thousands of Afghans – fueled by vengeance - fighting the coalition.  Instead, in defiance of the Soros prediction, we are observing the increased willingness of ordinary Afghans to become involved in the democratic process.  Soros discounts the fact that many civilian populations are able to make the delineation between the U.S. targeting their brutal oppressors and the U.S. targeting them.


Soros goes on to identify the war in Iraq as a main recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda, stating “The invasion of Iraq has spawned more insurgents and suicide bombers than there were before.”  A contrarian need only point out that Al-Qaeda’s training camps had little trouble attracting thousands of recruits during the 1990s, a political era dominated by U.S. military action on behalf of Muslims in the Balkans.  What Soros and his ilk fail to understand is that radical Islamism is an ideology which frequently adjusts its message to fit different situations, in order to justify their continued existence. Had the invasion of Iraq never occurred, extremists would have simply found another region or excuse to ply their murderous trade.


Additionally, Soros fails to mention that the number of Middle Eastern reformers is clearly growing as well.  While critics of U.S policy rely on anecdotal evidence to bolster their assertion that the ranks of jihadis have swelled because of the war in Iraq, those who argue for an active American role in promoting democracy can refer with confidence to the millions who have voted in Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.  Are their growing ranks of no consequence to Mr. Soros?


Echoing the incessant whine of advocacy groups such as Amnesty International, Soros goes on to decry the loss of America’s “moral high ground.”  Soros, of course, fails to quantify this development, simply mentioning the supposed cruelties of the war, such as Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.  It should be pointed out to Mr. Soros that these supposed instigators did not even exist when Al-Qaeda bombers attacked U.S. embassies in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000, and carried out the September 11th attacks.  If the U.S. did indeed enjoy this supposed moral superiority before these latest controversies, as Mr. Soros asserts, it was an advantage which did nothing to guarantee the security of American citizens.


As a culmination of his criticism of the Bush administration, Soros absurdly contends that the invasion of Iraq – which unseated a psychotic dictator and helped construct a proto-democratic system in the heart of the uniformly authoritarian Middle East – represents “perhaps the greatest blunder in American history.”  Those with an even cursory knowledge of American history could easily discredit this outrageous statement by bringing far more regrettable historical examples to the fore, such as the institution of slavery, the brutal treatment of Native American tribes, or granting American citizenship to George Soros.


Even after all of his anti-war grandstanding, Soros is quick to mention his support for the war in Afghanistan.  He writes, in no uncertain terms, “The invasion of Afghanistan was justified. That is where Bin Laden lived and Al Qaeda had its training camps.” 


Such resolve, however, eluded Mr. Soros while the war was actually raging.  Less than two weeks after the September 11th attacks, Mr. Soros told a Hong Kong audience that the U.S. response should be “restrained,” so as to not “arouse the public opinion in Islamic countries.”  In December, just as American forces began to enjoy success against the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies, Soros suggested putting the entire operation, including security and reconstruction efforts, in the hands of the United Nations.  If the U.S. failed to hand over responsibility to the U.N, as per his advice, Afghanistan would eventually be considered a “failure.”


To recover from America’s supposed missteps, Soros outlines several policies which he assures readers can “correct our mistakes.”  He advocates facilitating democracy, condemning terrorism, and “fighting terrorism within the constraints of the law.”  His first two points are so unspecific as to be eminently agreeable, but his third point is fundamentally ridiculous and dangerous.  Fighting terrorism as a criminal problem, which Soros seems to advocate, echoes the worse failures of the Clinton administration, when action against Osama Bin Laden was deferred for want of a solid criminal case and officials shied away from killing terrorists who were plotting attacks against American interests.  It is this legalistic approach which enabled Al-Qaeda to freely plot and engineer its war on America during the 1990s, while having little reason to fear retaliation. 


Unable to enumerate an alternative to his despised war on terror, Soros falls back on an evocation for America to “build consensus.”  Surprisingly, for a man so obsessed with consensus, Soros fails to recognize recent American successes in constructing effective coalitions. In Afghanistan, NATO forces led by Germany and France have taken the lead in nation-wide stabilization efforts.  French and American pressure has been instrumental in forcing Syrian troops to abandon their occupation of Lebanon, while President Bush has worked hand-in-hand with our European partners to counter Iranian nuclear development.  These multi-lateral operations have led to tangible results, yet go unnoticed by Soros, who is content with repeating the well-worn “world is against us” cliché.


Finally, taking a page from other anti-war activists, Soros cannot help but utilize the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to help make his case.  “It is this context [of Katrina] that the war on terror should be re-examined,” Soros writes.  Why a time of natural disaster would lead Americans to reconsider an all too human conflict is left unexplained, but Soros suggests it nevertheless.


Mr. Soros hardly needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an ad to remind Americans of his stance on the war on terror; his previous statements, including those which compared President Bush to Hitler, are sufficiently indicative of the Soros approach to Islamic terror.  Basically a retread of the “see no evil” approach which precipitated September 11th,  the Soros plan would have America sink back into a policy of amorphous inaction, where military responses are considered counter-productive and repeating feel-good inanities such as “building consensus” is regarded as sound foreign policy.  Such a policy shift would come as welcome news to America’s terrorist enemies, who undoubtedly favor being treated as “criminals” rather than their current status as targets for military action.

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Patrick Devenny is the Henry M. Jackson National Security Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington D.C.

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