7 April 2011 — Eric Walberg
A man, a plan — a new Ivory Coast. Eric Walberg looks at the rationale behind the Western intervention
Few around the world watching the drama unfolding in Ivory Coast rout for the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who to his credit held reasonably fair elections last year, but then promptly ignored the results, suddenly claiming that those who voted for his rival Alassane Ouattara were not really citizens of Ivory Coast at all. With even the cautious African Union against him, his demise looks inevitable.
This good guy/ bad guy scenario, with modest, universally approved international intervention under UN auspices, is a perfect example of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), the policy for governing the world promoted by George Soros, probably the most important single individual shaping the political and economic world order today. The greatest speculator of all times, he has become a legend as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England”, philanthropist extraordinaire, loved and loathed for his massive funding of world financial, economic and political reforms that meets his approval. He has been doing this for 30 years now, as author of Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (2000), author of colour revolutions, and supporter of the UN and not-so-UN interventions such as that in Ivory Coast.
Soros called sovereignty an “anachronistic concept originating in bygone times when society consisted of rulers and subjects, not citizens” in a 2004 article in the Council for Foreign Relations Foreign Policy magazine. Sovereignty is not “a right”, but rather a “responsibility”, and can be overuled by the international community if necessary.
The UN-backed regime change now taking place in Ivory Coast is the latest in a string of international interventions justified on humanitarian grounds, dubbed by critics as the “imperialism of human rights”. This new policy is sometimes called the Annan Doctrine, defined as the loss of the traditional prerogatives of sovereignty in the face of crimes against humanity. Kofi Annan was UN general secretary 1997–2006 and the term was coined during negotiations in 1999 over Kosovo when Annan approved “collective international pressure on the parties to come to the negotiating table with the possible threat of use of force”.
In response to Annan’s call, Canada’s government established an International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty in 2000, which issued its report “The Responsibility to Protect”, recommending military intervention where “large-scale loss of life is occurring or imminent owing to deliberate state action or the state’s refusal or failure to act.” These principles were endorsed by both the UN General Assembly and, with Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in mind, the reconstituted African Union in 2005.
As Soros contemplates the imminent success in Ivory Coast of his policy to solve the world’s political problems, he is busy solving the world’s financial and economic problems as host of a secretive meeting of the world elite in peaceful Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, where the UN’s financial institutions were set up in 1944. On 8 April, 200 academic, business and government leaders, including the likes of Paul Volcker and Gordon Brown, are gathering under the auspices of Soros’s Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) to agree on the international financial institutions for the postwar world.
Reads INET’s conference promo: “Spurred by the financial crisis and recent developments in the economics field, a far more realistic view of the economy is emerging that takes into account imperfections in individuals, institutions, and information, as well as the existence of complex global networks of interaction, and the dynamism of innovation.” This could easily be used as a template for Soros’s beloved R2P: Spurred by the need to protect civilians, a far more realistic view of the rationale to invade other countries is emerging that takes into account imperfections in individuals, etc, etc.
The problem in applying R2P is: “Who decides when enough is enough?” Bush junior ran rough-shod over the concept of humanitarian imperialism, invading Afghanistan and Iraq without any UN mandate. This proved a disaster, undoing the careful efforts of Annan, Clinton and others to entrench a new world order based on consensus through the UN. While some cases may appear indisputable, such as Ivory Coast today, R2P is easily misused. Reports of Libyan government forces bombing civilians were used to justify UNSC Resolution 1973, but it turns out the reports were false. Too late: with Resolution 1973 in hand, the French and British proceeded to invade Libya to overthrow a pesky dictator they and the US had long despised.
Such cynical misuse of this new Golden Rule worries those who cherish the principles of international law based on national sovereignty. In the UN Charter “states agreed not to use force against each other to accomplish their foreign policy ends,” notes Curtis Doebbler. But the new disdain for sovereignty really just acknowledges the emptiness of national sovereignty as a uniform principle applicable to all nations equally, given the imperial set-up. While lesser western states – former empires such as France and Britain – may have lost sovereignty to the now dominant imperial power and its institutions, “third world sovereignty never existed anyway,” writes US analyst Alan Freeman.
The equation in sub-Saharan Ivory Coast has just as much imperial murkiness behind it as the Libyan intervention, but is less controversial. The African Union is solidly behind the UN mediation efforts between Ivory Coast’s north-south divide. France always had a small military base there even after Ivory Coast became independent in 1960, and 4,600 French troops have been there since the civil war broke out in 2002 under Operation Licorne (Unicorn). There are 12,000 French citizens and as the civil war heats up, the troops are truly protecting civilians (especially French ones) and working under UN auspices.
R2P in Ivory Coast is actually being used to support the Muslim pretender against the Christian poor loser. When the dust settles, this will be seen as a success story for the UN and a relatively benign flexing of French imperial muscle, far less suspect than French fighter jets bombing civilians in Libya in defiance of the world community.
This is good news for Soros and his protégé United States President Barack Obama, who is present at least in spirit if not in the flesh at Soros’s conference in Bretton Woods. Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would institutionalize R2P in the State Department. Such NGOs as the Soros-funded International Crisis Group (1995), the Centre for International Governance Innovation (2003), the Clinton Global Initiative (2005), the Soros-funded Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (2008), and Soros’s very own INET (2009) are trying to create a new world economic order based on his financial wizardry and R2P to face of the many crises in the world. Confirming Ouattara – a former IMF official – as president of Ivory Coast will be good news indeed, moving both of Soros’s agendas forward.
Soros is despised not only by anti-capitalists, but by capitalists too for believing “the main enemy of the open society is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat.” He is despised by neocons but loved by the Obama-style supporters of empire. As he explained in 2010, “we need a global sheriff” to police both the world’s economy and politics, but Soros’s sheriff must be perceived as a “good cop” not as Bush junior’s “bad cop”.
While R2P as embodied in the intervention in Ivory Coast has a broad consensus among the world’s nations, the same cannot be said for most of the other interventions of recent years, from the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan to Libya. Nor is there any consensus around Soros’s financial agenda for a new world order. In Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism, he called not only to reconstitute the International Monetary Fund but the United Nations, trimming US imperial ambitions in the interests of a global order. The US “could lead a cooperative effort to involve both the developed and the developing world, thereby reestablishing American leadership in an acceptable form.”
Soros’s ambitions for the world are truly breath-taking. Whether his pet R2P and his plans for a new world financial order will be accepted by both the empire and its opponents as the answer to the world’s political, financial and economic problems has yet to be seen. But the man and his plan are probably the only way to salvage the imperial order.