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Financier Soros Launches Stinging Critique of Bush Foreign Policy - 2004-01-12

Wealthy financier and philanthropist George Soros has launched a stinging critique of President Bush's foreign policy and said seeing him defeated in the November presidential election has become the central element of his life. Mr. Soros's views are contained in a new book, The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power.

The 73-year-old Hungarian-American says the future of the world is at stake in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Speaking at Washington's Carnegie Endowment, Mr. Soros said the election is a referendum on what he calls the Bush Doctrine, a foreign policy in which the United States is always dominant. "First, the United States will not tolerate any rival, globally or in any region of the world. Second [says the doctrine, the United States has] the right to engage in pre-emptive military action," he said.

Mr. Soros said the Bush Doctrine is a departure from traditional American foreign policy that stresses international cooperation. The invasion of Iraq, he says, was a grave error, compounding efforts to build democracy in the Middle East. "Quite simply, the Bush Doctrine is making us less not more safe and renders us less able to foster free and open societies around the world," he said.

The Bush administration defends the invasion of Iraq, arguing that both the United States and Iraq's neighbors are indeed safer now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power.

Mr. Soros says he is not opposed to the use of force and supported past military actions in Bosnia and Kosovo. But he said Mr. Bush exploited the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as a pretext for removing Saddam Hussein from power.

If Mr. Bush wins the election, said Mr. Soros, the United States will continue to be viewed with hostility by many nations and terrorists will gain sympathizers. "But if we reject him we can write off the Bush Doctrine as a temporary aberration and resume our rightful place as a peace-loving nation," he said.

The Bush administration rejects the assertion that it acted unilaterally in Iraq, saying that over 30 nations have participated in the U.S.-led operation.

Mr. Soros, whose fortune exceeds several billion dollars, is actively supporting Mr. Bush's rivals in the Democratic Party. He said he has no preference among three Democratic rivals Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark, any one of which he believes can defeat President Bush in November.