Say the name George Soros to any die-hard Republican and they’ll probably recoil in disgust. The Hungarian-born billionaire has donated billions to progressive causes throughout his life and is the subject of wide-ranging, unfounded conspiracies spread by conservatives.
Soros has been falsely accused by the right of everything from paying people to participate in the 2017 Women’s March to trying to bring down the global currency market.
Charles Koch is one half of the controversial billionaire libertarian-minded Koch Brothers, a partnership that has given hundreds of millions to right-wing political causes. The Koch’s have a long history of using their money to support tax cuts and the rollback of environmental protections.
Their company, Koch Industries, is the third-largest polluter in the U.S.
Koch and Soros have teamed up for a cause that sadly has too few champions in America these days: peace. While this partnership seems shocking to some, there is an overlap in the progressive and libertarian Venn diagram of beliefs.
Libertarians and progressives tend to agree on LGBT rights, immigration, abortion, criminal justice reform, drug decriminalization, and U.S. military intervention overseas.
Koch and Soros’ new endeavor is the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a tribute to former president John Quincy Adams. On Independence Day in 1821, Quincy declared that the United States “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
“The Quincy Institute is an action-oriented think tank that will lay the foundation for a new foreign policy centered on diplomatic engagement and military restraint,” the institution’s website reads. “The current moment presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring together like-minded progressives and conservatives and set U.S. foreign policy on a sensible and humane footing. Our country’s current circumstances demand it.”
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According to The Boston Globe, the institute will likely advocate for deep cuts in military spending, a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Syria, a return to the nuclear deal with Iran, and an end to regime-change campaigns in Venezuela and Cuba.
The institute aims to release policy reports by the end of the year that push for new foreign policy across the globe while advocating to stop “endless war.”
The institute also released a bold statement of principles, stating that the U.S. “should engage with the world, and the essence of engagement is peaceful cooperation among peoples. For this reason, the United States must cherish peace and pursue it through the vigorous practice of diplomacy.”
“The use of armed force does not represent American engagement in the world,” the statement continues. “Force ends human life, destroying engagement irreparably. Any resort to force should occur only as a last resort and should remain infrequent. The military exists to defend the people and territory of the United States, not to act as a global police force.”
“This is big,” Trita Parsi, former president of the National Iranian American Council and co-founder of the institute, told The Boston Globe. “It shows how important ending endless war is if they’re willing to put aside their differences and get together on this project. We are going to challenge the basis of American foreign policy in a way that has not been done in at least the last quarter-century.”
Since 9/11, the War on Terror has cost U.S. taxpayers over $6 trillion. Just imagine what that money could have done if it was spent on healthcare, cancer research or education?
As of 2016, these wars have killed about 14,000 American soldiers and contractors. Nearly 400,000 residents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq have lost their lives as well.
At least 800,000 more have been killed due to malnutrition, environmental impacts, and disease caused by the conflicts.
All of the spent blood and treasure seems to be faint background noise in today’s political milieu. Koch and Soros are doing the world a service by turning up the volume on something Americans would rather not hear about and amplifying an idea that seems to have been forgotten over the past generation.