Wednesday, December 01, 2004

George Soros - the international man of mystery 

It seems there is one name that has the uncanny power to almost make some on the right have a rethink about the situation in Ukraine and their support for the opposition. The name is Soros. George Soros. Shaken, but obviously not stirred by the failure of his hard earned millions to MoveOn George W Satan Moron Bush form the White House, Soros seems to be back in action where he always felt most comfortable and where in the past he actually managed to chalk up some successes: East and Central Europe.

That Soros's Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundation have been involved in Ukraine and helping the opposition comes hardly as a surprise; the Foundation, after all,
has been involved in just about every other post-communist country since 1989, albeit with mixed reception and results: a generous savior and philanthropist for some, he's also been variously described as an agent of international Jewish conspiracy, a communist collaborator or the evil capitalist buccaneer.

Is Soros's involvement enough to delegitimise Yushchenko and make one start bowling for the oligarchs? That depends on two things: 1) what one thinks Soros's ultimate objectives are, and 2) whether his involvement matters that much in the bigger scheme of things.

To tackle the second question first, Soros is indeed involved helping the opposition in Ukraine, but so seems to be just about everyone else. As the
"Guardian" reports, "the Democratic party's National Democratic Institute, the Republican party's International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid... [as well as] the Freedom House NGO" are all in it together in a giant rainbow coalition of realists and idealists, Bush haters and Bush lovers, not to mention - internationally - Old Europe and New Europe, post-communists and anti-communists, the Polish right and the Polish left.

The second question is in many ways more interesting one. One of my readers, Leslie, wrote in about
John Batchelor's radio program at WABC Radio, where the host had interviewed Yossef Bodansky and Dr Stephen Cohen; both guests building conspiracy theories revolving around Soros and the US State Department. According to Bodansky, a terror expert and a Bin Laden biographer, Soros and the Foggy Bottom apparatchiks are pushing Yushchenko, who's pro-Western but anti-war on terror, against Yanukovich, who's pro-Russian but also pro-war on terror. As a theory, it's similar to those peddled in Moscow: the American anti-Bush forces are meddling in international affairs to harm the President and to damage his relationship with Vladimir Putin. The only difference is that for the Westerners, Soros is the bad guy, whereas for the Russians, rather bizarrely, Zbigniew Brzezinski becomes the puppetmaster.

As they say, stay tuned - I think we'll be hearing a lot more about it in the near future.

Update: Anne Applebaum does the demolishment job on "freedom haters":

"Many of the same people who found it hard to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein find it equally difficult to say anything nice about pro-democracy demonstrators in Ukraine. Many of the same people who would refuse to condemn a dictator who is anti-American cannot bring themselves to admire democrats who admire, or at least don't hate, the United States. I certainly don't believe, as President Bush sometimes simplistically says, that everyone who disagrees with American policies in Iraq or elsewhere 'hates freedom.' That's why it's so shocking to discover that some of them do."
Update II: And Jesse Walker provides a few more sticks of dynamite to put under the "Soros/Western conspiracy behind the Ukrainian opposition" meme, being increasingly peddled by far-left and far-right in the West (not to mention the East).


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