George Soros | Charlie Rose | 2006 | Summary and Q&A

September 8, 2021
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George Soros | Charlie Rose | 2006

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In this interview, George Soros shares his concerns about the direction America has taken after 9/11 and the war on terror. He discusses the consequences of waging this war, the idea of the war on terror as a false metaphor, and the need for a more nuanced approach in dealing with different terrorist groups. Soros also talks about his disappointment in the American public's acceptance of being lied to by politicians and the erosion of American values. He emphasizes the importance of international cooperation, the need for America to lead in dealing with global issues like climate change, and his admiration for China's economic growth and its potential role as a counterbalance to the United States.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are George Soros' concerns about America's direction after 9/11?

Soros believes that America lost its way after 9/11 with the war on terror. He sees the consequences of this war as disastrous and counterproductive. He argues that the public now recognizes the mistake of going into Iraq, but the concept of the war on terror still persists. Soros believes this concept is based on a false metaphor and that it has created a vicious circle of escalating violence. He contends that waging war results in innocent victims and generates resentment and rage against the United States.

Q: Is the war on terror the defining struggle of our time, as some suggest?

According to Soros, the conflict between the United States and radical fundamentalist terrorists is not the defining struggle of our time. He argues that going into Iraq was a war of choice, and the belief in a clash of civilizations is also a choice. Soros believes that the United States set the agenda for the world after 9/11, but it was the wrong agenda. He disagrees with the notion of labeling the struggle as a war on terror and believes it has led to misguided policies.

Q: How should the United States respond to people who want to come and kill us?

Soros suggests that the most effective way to combat terrorism is to infiltrate terrorist organizations. He cites historical examples, such as the British successfully infiltrating anarchist groups. Soros believes that political dialogue and negotiation can also play a role in addressing terrorism. He argues that lumping all terrorist groups together is a mistake, as they have different objectives and levels of participation in the political process.

Q: In the context of the Middle East, how should the United States have pursued nation-building in Afghanistan?

Soros criticizes the United States for not fully pursuing nation-building in Afghanistan. He suggests that if the U.S. had focused on nation-building after targeting Afghanistan, significant improvements could have been made. Soros argues that this approach would have prevented Osama bin Laden from finding refuge and would have helped stabilize the region.

Q: What is Soros' view on organizations like Hamas that refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist?

Soros acknowledges that there are differences within organizations like Hamas. While he agrees that the political leadership of Hamas should recognize and negotiate with Israel, he believes that recognition should come as a result of negotiations, not as a precondition. Soros mentions that Hamas leaders have talked about temporary recognition, which could be a starting point for further negotiation. He also believes it would have been wise for Israel to drive a wedge between the practical people within Hamas and the ideologues based in Damascus.

Q: Has George Soros given up on the idea of changing regime through political involvement?

Soros has not given up on the idea of being involved in the electoral process to change regime. He spent significant money in support of defeating President Bush in the 2004 election because he believed it would greatly benefit the world and the causes he is involved with. Soros believes that a change in leadership could have prevented the current dire situation in Iraq. He states that he would have given his entire fortune if he could have ensured a successful regime change.

Q: What does Soros believe needs to change in the United States' role in the world?

Soros believes that the United States needs to renounce and repudiate the war on terror. While he acknowledges the need to protect against terrorism, he argues that making it the centerpiece of all policies is wrong. Soros advocates for a more cooperative approach to global issues, such as climate change, and suggests that the United States should lead in dealing with these problems. He sees a need for the acceptance of international cooperation and a departure from the current nationalist agenda.

Q: Is George Soros more respectful of China's attitudes and deals to secure energy supply?

Soros has great admiration for China's economic growth and sees it as the main beneficiary of globalization. However, he also notes that China has moved in the wrong direction in recent years. He mentions their tightening control on civil liberties and media information. Soros believes that China's desire for power and their engagement with rogue regimes, particularly for resource acquisition, have made them spoilers in the international arena.

Q: How does Soros view Russia's current state?

Soros shares pessimism about Russia, noting that it has also moved in the wrong direction. He states that Russia's direction is parallel to that of the United States. Soros sees the current environment as one of denial of unpleasant truths, with both nations influencing each other. He points out that his involvement in Russia was aimed at advocating for a more open society, but the country has shifted away from political opening in recent years.

Q: What is George Soros' leading passion in the time he has left?

Soros is passionate about understanding reality and his place in the world. He acknowledges that perfect understanding and knowledge are not attainable. He emphasizes the need to accept inherent uncertainty and not deny unpleasant truths. Soros believes that this acceptance is crucial, as it affects various aspects of society, from global issues like climate change to the fear of death. He encourages living with fallibility and adjusting our thinking to navigate a world of uncertainty.


George Soros expresses concerns about the direction America has taken after 9/11, particularly regarding the war on terror. He believes the concept of the war on terror is flawed and has led to disastrous consequences. Soros emphasizes the need for a more nuanced approach in dealing with different terrorist groups and advocates for international cooperation on global issues like climate change. He views China's economic growth with admiration but cautions against its expansionist tendencies. Soros also expresses disappointment in the erosion of American values and the need to recapture what America used to stand for. He believes a change in leadership and a departure from the current nationalist agenda are necessary. Overall, Soros calls for a greater acceptance of fallibility and an understanding of the inherent uncertainty of the world.

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