George Soros, one of the world’s wealthiest financiers and philanthropists, has declared that getting George Bush out of the White House has become the “central focus” of his life, and he has put more than $15m (pounds 9m) of his own money where his mouth is.
Mr Soros argues that the Bush White House is guided by a “supremacist ideology” that is leading it to abuse US power in its dealings with the rest of the world, and creating a state of permanent warfare.
He has mounted a single-minded campaign involving a book, and magazine and newspaper articles as well as multi-million dollar donations to liberal groups, all aimed at defeating President Bush in the November 2004 elections, a contest he describes as “a matter of life and death”.
The Hungarian emigre and finance genius has given nearly $5bn to oppose dictators in Africa, Asia and the former Soviet bloc, but now he is directing his energies at the elected leader of his adopted country.
“It is the central focus of my life,” he told the Washington Post in an interview published yesterday, after announcing a donation of $5m to a liberal activist organisation called MoveOn.org. The gift brings the total amount in donations to groups dedicated to Mr Bush’s removal to $15.5m.
Other pledges of cash have gone to America Coming Together (ACT), an anti-Bush group that proposes to mobilise voters against the president in 17 battleground states. Mr Soros and a friend, Peter Lewis, the chairman of a car insurance company, promised $10m.
Mr Soros has also helped to bankroll a new liberal think-tank, the Centre for American Progress, to be headed by Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, John Podesta, which will aim to counter the rising influence of neo-conservative institutions in Washington.
The 74-year-old investor, who made a fortune betting against the pound in the late 80s and against the dollar this year, is to lay out the reasons for his detestation of the Bush administration in a book to be published in January, titled The Bubble of American Supremacy, a polemic which he has half-jokingly dubbed the Soros Doctrine.
In the book, he will argue that the US is doing itself immeasurable harm by its heavy handed role in the world. “The dominant position the United States occupies in the world is the element of reality that is being distorted,” he writes, according to an excerpt to be published in next month’s Atlantic Monthly mag azine. “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.”
The Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” cannot be won, he argues, but is instead ushering in “a permanent state of war”. He uses the emotive terms like “supremacist ideology” deliberately, saying that some of the rhetoric coming from the White House reminds him of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Hungary.
“When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans,” he said in yesterday’s interview. “My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me.”
His remarks have infuriated the Republican party, which has accused him of promoting his interests with the steady flow of money to like-minded institutions, and avoiding federal limits on donations to political parties – an allegation which Democrats consistently level at big business for its links with the Republicans.
“George Soros has purchased the Democratic party.” said Christine Iverson, a Republican national committee spokeswoman.