[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.
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
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
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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