Davos 2018: George Soros launches blistering attack on Trump - 'The survival of our entire civilisation is at stake'

Billionaire Democrat donor argues the President has set US on course for nuclear war

Maya Oppenheim
Friday 26 January 2018 13:33 GMT
Billionaire investor George Soros says Donald Trump is 'danger to the world'

George Soros used his speech at Davos to launch a searing attack on Donald Trump and argue the President has set the US on course for nuclear war.

The billionaire hedge fund manager, who is a leading Democratic donor, argued the Trump administration constituted a grave danger to the world and the survival of our whole civilisation was at risk.

Mr Soros, who ranks 20th on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, said he nonetheless remained optimistic that this was a fleeting situation which would resolve itself in 2020 - if not before.

“I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world but I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020 or even sooner,” he said during his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland.

The 87-year-old said relations between the US and North Korea had worsened with Mr Trump in the White House.

Mr Soros said: “The situation has deteriorated. Not only the survival of open society, but the survival of our entire civilization is at stake. Both [Kim Jong-un and Mr Trump] seem willing to risk a nuclear war in order to keep themselves in power”.

He added: “The United States is set on a course towards nuclear war by refusing to accept that North Korea has become a nuclear power. This creates a strong incentive for North Korea to develop its nuclear capacity with all possible speed, which in turn may induce the United States to use its nuclear superiority pre-emptively; in effect to start a nuclear war in order to prevent nuclear war”.

Soros, who founded international pro-democracy organisation The Open Society Foundation, argued the only sensible strategy was to come to terms with the fact North Korea is a nuclear power.

Soros called for the use of carrots and sticks toward North Korea – via cooperation with China - which could lead to a freeze-for-freeze agreement. This would see the US and South Korea suspend military exercises in return for North Korea demonstrably suspending nuclear weapon development.

Soros said the US president was keen to create a “mafia state” that represses individual rights but is not able to due to the US constitution, institutions, and a “vibrant civil society”.

Soros, who made substantial donations to Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful bid to be president, said he was keen to help rebuild a healthy functioning two-party system in the US but argued this was dependent on the Democrats gaining a landslide in 2018.

“This will require not only a landslide in 2018 but also a Democratic Party that will aim at non-partisan redistricting, the appointment of well-qualified judges, a properly conducted census and other measures that a functioning two-party system requires,” Soros said.

He said he had high hopes for an avalanche Democrat win in 2018 due to the anger Mr Trump has provoked in his opponents.

“I give President Trump credit for motivating his core supporters brilliantly,” he said. “But for every core supporter, he has created a greater number of core opponents who are equally strongly motivated. That’s why I expect a Democratic landslide in 2018.”

Mr Soros also turned his attentions to Google and Facebook and argued they were in need of regulation. Branding the companies a “menace”, he warned against the rise of “ever more powerful monopolies”.

“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies,” he said. “It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called ‘the freedom of mind’. There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it.”

He added: “People without the freedom of mind can be easily manipulated. This danger does not loom only in the future; it already played an important role in the 2016 US presidential elections”.

Despite being obviously concerned about the direction the world is heading in, Mr Soros ended his speech on a positive note and said he saw hope in the endeavours of citizens.

He heaped prose on those who risk their lives to fight back against “would-be dictators” in Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who he claimed had “perpetrated electoral fraud on an unprecedented scale”.

“Our goal is to empower local people to deal with their own problems, assist the disadvantaged and reduce human suffering to the greatest extent possible," he said while addressing the work carried out by his foundations. "This will leave us plenty to do well beyond my lifetime.”

Mr Soros made headlines in October for giving £13.7bn ($18bn) to Open Society Foundations in one of the biggest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to a single institution. He has donated the majority of his estimated $24.6bn fortune to the philanthropic network.

Mr Soros, who was born in Hungary to a non-observant Jewish company, survived Nazi-Occupied Hungary and emigrated to England in 1947. He rose to fame by betting against the pound in 1992 and used Quantum Fund to bet successfully that sterling was over-valued against the Deutsche Mark, forcing then Prime Minister John Major to pull the pound out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

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