American soft power, a term coined by Joseph Nye, refers to the ability to influence others through cultural and ideological means rather than coercion. In the realm of this indirect influence, two significant figures stand out: financier George Soros and the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Their roles in shaping global political landscapes have been a subject of extensive analysis, especially by French scholars like Eric Denécé ,Claude Revel,Christian HARBULOT and Ali LAÏDI .
George Soros and the Open Society Foundations
George Soros, known for his financial acumen, notably in breaking the Bank of England in 1992, heads the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a network of NGOs operating in over 40 countries. The release of 2,576 internal OSF documents by WikiLeaks on August 15, 2016, unveiled Soros’ significant influence in global affairs. His involvement in the 2014 Ukrainian crisis, through organizations like the Ukrainian NGO International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), demonstrates his capacity to sway public opinion. Soros’ strategies in Greece and other European countries to align public sentiment against Russia and in favor of the new Ukrainian regime illustrate the potency of his soft power.
WikiLeaks Revelations and Political Influence
WikiLeaks’ allegations position Soros as a key player in numerous global political upheavals over the past 25 years. His support for the U.S. Democratic Party, including the 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, highlights his political influence. Despite questions over the motives and sources of WikiLeaks, the documents suggest a close collaboration between the Clinton Foundation and the OSF.
Soros vs. Hungarian Government
Soros’ conflict with the Hungarian government under Viktor Orbán, particularly regarding the Central European University in Budapest and divergent views on immigration and liberal NGOs, underlines the political dimensions of his influence.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
Established in 1983 during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the NED was intended to promote global democracy. Its role during the Cold War in supporting human rights and political pluralism in the USSR and Eastern Europe was significant. The NED’s activities have ranged from supporting movements in Eastern Europe to financing political candidates in Panama (1984) and Haiti (1990), and opposing Fidel Castro through the Cuban American National Foundation.
NED’s Global Operations and Criticisms
The NED, despite being a private entity, is primarily funded by the U.S. Congress, leading to criticisms of acting as a tool for U.S. geopolitical interests. It has been accused of fostering dissent in countries opposing U.S. political agendas. The NED’s approach, often described as an “iron fist in a velvet glove,” combines overt and covert methods.
Affiliated Organizations and Ideological Impact
NED-funded organizations like Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the International Republican Institute promote specific political and ideological agendas. Freedom House, for instance, publishes influential reports on political freedom and governance, affecting perceptions and international relations.
The roles of George Soros and the NED in American soft power dynamics present a complex picture of influence and intervention. Their activities, spanning continents and decades, have significantly impacted global politics, often sparking controversy and debate. As instruments of soft power, their actions continue to shape international relations in profound ways.