[pjw] INFO: Strange bedfellow billionares against war

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon Jul 15 18:38:11 EDT 2019

Hello Iraq Affinity Group supporters
At our meeting last Monday, we talked about a lot of things, some of which 
are just more of the same old US policy, and some of which came as a bit 
of a surprise.

For example, did you know that the last time there was a US drone strike 
in Pakistan was April 7, 2018... over 15 months ago?

You can check ongoing data on the drone wars in Afghanistan (which shows 
2336 airstrikes so far in 2019!), Somalia (46), Yemen (7) and Pakistan at 

Meanwhile, the stranger news that one of the Koch brothers teamed up with 
left-leaning billionaire George Soros to start a think tank against US war 
policy was widely reported. It's called the Quincy Institute for 
Responsible Statecraft. One co-founder is Trita Parsi, who used to 
lead the National Iranian American Council. Our allies at the American 
Iranian Friendship Council thought it was a joke at first.

The article they forwarded, which ran as an opinion piece in the Boston 
Globe, is below. It mentions, among other things, the US' 800 plus 
military bases around the world.

--dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2019 16:57:56
From: "Goudarz Eghtedari

In an astonishing turn, Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US "forever
war" policy
By Stephen Kinzer - Boston Globe -- June 30, 2019

BESIDES BEING BILLIONAIRES and spending much of their fortunes to promote
pet causes, the leftist financier George Soros and the right-wing Koch
brothers have little in common. They could be seen as polar opposites.

Soros is an old-fashioned New Deal liberal. The Koch brothers are
fire-breathing right-wingers who dream of cutting taxes and dismantling
government. Now they have found something to agree on: the United States
must end its "forever war" and adopt an entirely new foreign policy.

In one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political
history, Soros and Charles Koch, the more active of the two brothers, are
joining to finance a new foreign-policy think tank in Washington. It will
promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather
than threats, sanctions, and bombing. This is a radical notion in
Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon
militarism or liberal interventionism. Soros and the Koch brothers are
uniting to revive the fading vision of a peaceable United States. The
street cred they bring from both ends of the political spectrum -- along
with the money they are providing -- will make this new think tank an
off-pitch voice for statesmanship amid a Washington chorus that promotes

"This is big," said Trita Parsi, former president of the National Iranian
American Council and a co-founder of the new think tank. "It shows how
important ending endless war is if they're willing to put aside their
differences and get together on this project. We are going to challenge the
basis of American foreign policy in a way that has not been done in at
least the last quarter-century."

Since peaceful foreign policy was a founding principle of the United
States, it's appropriate that the name of this think tank harken back to
history. It will be called the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft,
an homage to John Quincy Adams, who in a seminal speech on Independence Day
in 1821 declared that the United States "goes not abroad in search of
monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence
of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." The Quincy
Institute will promote a foreign policy based on that live-and-let-live

The institute plans to open its doors in September and hold an official 
inauguration later in the autumn. Its founding donors -- Soros's Open 
Society Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation -- have each 
contributed half a million dollars to fund its takeoff. A handful of 
individual donors have joined to add another $800,000. By next year the 
institute hopes to have a $3.5 million budget and a staff of policy 
experts who will churn out material for use in Congress and in public 
debates. Hiring is underway.

Among Parsi's co-founders are several well-known critics of American
foreign policy, including Suzanne DiMaggio, who has spent decades promoting
negotiated alternatives to conflict with China, Iran, and North Korea; the
historian and essayist Stephen Wertheim; and the anti-militarist author and
retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich.

"The Quincy Institute will invite both progressives and 
anti-interventionist conservatives to consider a new, less militarized 
approach to policy," Bacevich said, when asked why he signed up. "We 
oppose endless, counterproductive war. We want to restore the pursuit of 
peace to the nation's foreign policy agenda."

In concrete terms, this means the Quincy Institute will likely advocate a
withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and Syria; a return to the
nuclear deal with Iran; less confrontational approaches to Russia and
China; an end to regime-change campaigns against Venezuela and Cuba; and
sharp reductions in the defense budget.

It aims to issue four reports before the end of 2019: two offering 
alternative approaches to the Middle East and East Asia, one on "ending 
endless war," and one called "democratizing foreign policy." Its statement 
of principles asserts that the United States "should engage with the 
world, and the essence of engagement is peaceful cooperation among 
peoples. For this reason, the United States must cherish peace and pursue 
it through the vigorous practice of diplomacy . . . The use of armed force 
does not represent American engagement in the world. Force ends human 
life, destroying engagement irreparably. Any resort to force should occur 
only as a last resort and should remain infrequent. The military exists to 
defend the people and territory of the United States, not to act as a 
global police force."

The depth of this heresy can only be appreciated by 
recognizing the meretricious power that nourishes Washington's think-tank 
ecosystem.. These "talk shops" employ experts who pop up to advise 
politicians, journalists, Congressional staff members, and the public. 
They write opinion columns and bloviate on news channels. In foreign 
policy, all major Washington think tanks promote interventionist dogma: 
the United States faces threats everywhere, it must therefore be present 
everywhere, and "present" includes maintaining more than 800 foreign 
military bases and spending trillions of dollars on endless confrontations 
with foreign countries. That, with some variation, is the ethos that moves 
conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the 
Heritage Foundation as well as liberal ones like the Center for American 
Progress and the Brookings Institution. Just as pernicious as their 
relentless support of the global-hegemony project is the corruption that 
lies behind it. Many Washington think tanks are supported by industries 
and foreign powers eager to inflate threats in order shape American law, 
policy, and public opinion. Their "experts" are often paid shills who 
cloak themselves in institutional respectability so they can masquerade as 
independent analysts.

When foreign crises like the war in Yemen break out, critics of US policy 
emerge and are given space to air their views. These protests, however, 
are episodic. Little continuity ties one burst of outrage to the next. The 
Quincy Institute aims to offer a corps of experts in Washington who will 
promote a unified foreign-policy paradigm based on statecraft and 
cooperation. Its founders plan to become involved in grass-roots 
campaigns, especially in minority communities. They hope their specialists 
will eventually move on to populate Congressional staffs and the executive 
branch -- as alumni of pro-intervention think tanks have been doing for 

"Some interesting currents are emerging in American politics and we want 
to capture this moment, but we;re in it for the long haul,: said Parsi. 
"We'll be a failure if in 10 years we're still criticizing. In 10 years, 
we want to be driving the bus."

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for 
International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

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