Are America’s Billionaires Turning Against Forever War?
A new think tank is coming to Washington, D.C., this September, a development that might not elicit more than a shrug (or a groan) if not for the unlikely duo behind it. Two billionaires, George Soros, a liberal, and Charles Koch, a conservative, have teamed up to create the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which will advocate for ending the United States’ forever wars. Stephen Kinzer of The Boston Globe, which first broke the story, calls the think tank “one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history.”
A statement on the institute’s website says, “The foreign policy of the United States has become detached from any defensible conception of U.S. interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind.”
Aside from both being billionaires, at first glance Koch and Soros seem to have little in common politically. As Kelsey Piper explains in Vox, “Soros is, of course, widely hated on the right for his support of liberalized immigration and is frequently the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Koch, meanwhile, has come under fire for his contributions to the Republican Party and his opposition to climate policies.”
The institute, which will open in September before an official inauguration later in the fall, is named for former U.S. President John Quincy Adams who, Piper points out, “said in an 1821 speech that America ‘goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ ” Koch and Soros contributed half a million dollars each to the institute, which has received an additional $800,000 in contributions from individual donors.
“This is big,” Trita Parsi, former president of the National Iranian American Council and a co-founder of the new think tank, told the Globe. The institute will advocate for restraint and diplomacy instead of military intervention, which Kinzer calls “a radical notion in Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism.”
Kinzer believes that Soros and Koch’s opposing political backgrounds bring their new project credibility. “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 brinksmanship,” he writes.
The two have previously been vocal about their objections to foreign intervention. In a 2015 MSNBC interview, Charles Koch told “Morning Joe,” “To me, foreign policy is a form of insanity. … We keep kicking out dictators and then we don’t get anything better, and we mess up a lot of people’s lives in the process — spend fortunes and have Americans killed and maimed. What do we have to show for it?”
Soros has also spoken out against war on multiple occasions, including in HuffPost, where in 2006, he wrote of the war on terror:
An endless war waged against an unseen enemy is doing great damage to our power and prestige abroad and to our open society at home. It has led to a dangerous extension of executive powers; it has tarnished our adherence to universal human rights; it has inhibited the critical process that is at the heart of an open society; and it has cost a lot of money.
Koch and Soros plan to release reports and become involved in various grassroots anti-war campaigns before eventually helping to place allies on congressional staffs and in the executive branch, according to the Globe.Wait, before you go…
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