- By Daniel W. Drezner
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.
Dear Peter Schweizer,
First off, thanks for writing. Believe it or not, this is precisely this kind of exchange I was hoping for when I called Big Peace "unadulterated horses**t" in my last post. I respect and admire writers who are not put off by a healthy use of Anglo-Saxon terms, as opposed to Latin, academic-y obfuscation.
You raise some issues with my post, so let me respond in kind.
First, you note that, "Drezner seems to have made a habit of coming to Mr. Soros’ defense," linking to a blog post from a few years back. I wonder, however, if you read the entire blog post. Here’s how I closed it:
I have very mixed feelings on Soros. The man is and was a first-rate philanthropist. That, said, having read The Bubble of American Diplomacy, I’ve concluded that Soros is a political loon of the first order. It is ridiculously easy to attack George Soros without ever discussing his religion.
….while Blankely was, to repeat, clearly way out of bounds, the Republican decision to go on the offensive against Soros is perfectly legit. He’s dedicated large sums of money to attacking the Bush administration. According to the Post story, "Soros has said in interviews that he has concluded that ousting Bush is the most important thing he can do with his life." The trigger for the Hannity & Colmes discussion was Soros’ statement comparing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to the 9/11 attacks. In Bubble of American Diplomacy, Soros admits that he’s become "quite rabid" in his political views. He’s entered the political arena — which means he’s opened himself to political attacks.
Trust me when I say that this post didn’t win me many friends on the left. If this amounts to me "sucking up to a billionaire philanthropist," as you put it, well then, gee, I really stink at it. If you think this still amounts to "sucking up," then I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree. To reiterate — going after Soros’ ideas is just fine. I’m sure you’ll agree, however, that going after him for being a Jew is both inflammatory and extraneous.
You then go on to argue that Soros has influenced Obama, and provide links to stories in the Wall Street Journal and Time to back up this point. Hey, this is great! You have linked citations to back up your argument!! That’s what I like to see when an online article makes a non-obvious factual assertion. Now go back and re-read Moriarty’s column — did he have any hyperlinks backing up any of his assertions linking Soros to Obama? No? Wouldn’t some links on that point have been useful? Indeed, dare I suggest that pointing out the need for evidence is kind of an editor’s job?
As for your cites, I’m afraid thay’re not convincing at all. Both of them are from November 2008, when there was speculation over who would influence then-President-elect Obama. I haven’t seen much since then about Soros’ direct influence over Obama. Soros is at best ambivalent and at worst disappointed with Obama’s performance. On the issue in which Soros has been the most outspoken — financial regulation — Obama willfully ignored Soros’ recommendations. So I’m not seeing a lot of influence here. I’m seeing nothing that even approximates the overt and tight relationship that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon shared during the latter’s administration (which is what Moriarity stated in his essay).
I could be persuaded otherwise on this point — Obama and Soros probably do have some kind of relationship. But I need to see the evidence, the unvarnished truth, if you will. If you have any, please provide it and link to it.
Finally, you sarcastically note my impending zombie book, concluding, "Wow. Serious stuff. Scholarly material. Certainly not horses***t."
Well played, sir!! Yes, I am indeed writing a semi-serious book on zombies and world politics. I’m not sure I follow your line of argumentation, however. Are you suggesting that writing on something frivolous (but pedagogically useful) like zombies somehow diminishes my ability to analyze politics and international relations? If that’s your argument, then you’re impeaching an awful lot of writers and analysts who dabble in hobbies like fiction-writing on the side. It’s a good thing you haven’t done anything so frivolous as write fiction. Oh, wait….
If you want to directly critique my writings on international relations, please feel free — there’s a lot of them. Implying that the two months I spent writing Theories of International Politics and Zombies disqualifies me from more serious musings is… wait for it…. unadulterated horses**t.
Daniel W. Drezner
Dear Michael Moriarty.
First off, again, thanks for writing. Second, let me just say that you’re a highly underrated actor. Courage Under Fire is one of my favorite post-Cold War films, and I thought you were terrific in it — an understated performance that deserved Academy Award recognition.
Now, to the matter at hand. You write in your response:
You say, “Seriously, I see no evidence of Soros’ alleged influence over Obama, nor do I see any evidence of Soros’ desire to bring down the United States.”
Dragging the United States, kicking and screaming, into the economic quick sands of not only Far Left false promises but, for example, handing the American Gulf oil market over to Brazil’s own predominantly offshore drilling is not a recent headline … of sorts?
Isn’t Mr. Soros a close friend of Brazil’s leadership and an actual investor in Brazil’s oil explorations?
Forgive my hyperbole, but isn’t a moratorium on offshore oil drilling, imposed by an American, Presidential friend of George Soros going to help Brazil … and therefore George Soros … EXPONENTIALLY?
But then again, you can’t even see a shred of “influence” from Soros to Obama (emphases in original).
Now I assume you are referring to this allegation with respect to Soros’ investments in Petrobas and the links between Petrobas and the Obama administration. I’m not sure, however, since once again, you failed to provide any links to back up your arguments. On this matter, I suggest you peruse this FactCheck.org post about the issue, as well as this Bloomberg story about Soros’ dealings with Petrobras.
There’s a phrase that I like a lot: correlation does not equal causation. It is probably true that a moratorium on offshore drilling would help Petrobas, which would in turn help Soros. I seriously doubt, however, that this is what led to the moratorium in the first place, just as I find most conspiracy theories implausible. The moratorium does not appear to reflect Obama’s long-term preferences on the issue, given that he indicated he was open to drilling during the 2008 campaign and then announced an expansion of such drilling just a few months before the BP imbroglio. Finally, a six-month delay is not really going to enrich Petrobas all that much.
So no, the word "exponentially" doesn’t hold up here. Neither does the comparison you made between Nixon/Kissinger and Obama/Soros in your initial post — those two pairings are apples and oranges, and there’s nothing from your original post nor your follow-up letter that is persuasive on that point.
You also write, "The rumor I’ve received about your publication, Foreign Policy, is that it is not just Left but Far Left." Hey, why listen to received rumor? Why not go for the unvarnished truth? Check out Foreign Policy for yourself!! I’m sure there will be plenty of content that you and your Big Peace readers will find to be on the left. On the other hand, distinguished conservative writers ranging from Robert Kagan to Walter Russell Mead to Dov Zakheim have published here. Even some less distinguished conservatives, like Peter Schweizer’s business partner Marc A. Thiessen, have found their way onto Foreign Policy. Read the whole thing!!
One final, friendly suggestion from one writer to another: bolded and italicized fonts have their place in making a point. But bolded and italicized text, in and of itself, does not constitute evidence.
Do keep checking out my blog — I, for one, would welcome a whole new set of critical readers.
Daniel W. Drezner