Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions

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During the six months prior to the World Trade Center attack, the United States walked away from a treaty to control the world traffic in small arms, the Kyoto accords, a treaty to combat bioterrorism, and many other international agreements. After 9/11 there was a flurry of coalition building, but Europe and Asia quickly came to see the conflict in Afghanistan as an American war with Tony Blair leading cheers from the sidelines. Recent American calls to action in Iraq have only reinforced international ...

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Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism And The Failure Of Good Intentions

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Overview

During the six months prior to the World Trade Center attack, the United States walked away from a treaty to control the world traffic in small arms, the Kyoto accords, a treaty to combat bioterrorism, and many other international agreements. After 9/11 there was a flurry of coalition building, but Europe and Asia quickly came to see the conflict in Afghanistan as an American war with Tony Blair leading cheers from the sidelines. Recent American calls to action in Iraq have only reinforced international perception that the U.S. plans to remain a solitary actor on the world stage. Despite our stated good intentions--the causes of justice and democracy--we have become the world's largest rogue nation.The Bush administration did not invent the American tradition of unilateralism, but, Clyde Prestowitz argues, they have taken it to unprecedented heights. Rogue Nation explores the historical roots of the unilateral impulse and shows how it helps shape American foreign policy in every important area: trade and economic policy, arms control, energy, environment, drug trafficking, agriculture. Even now, when the need for multilateral action--and the danger of going it alone--has never been greater, we continue to act contrary to international law, custom, and our own best interests.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
If you want to know how the American colossus looks to the rest of the world, Rogue Nation, by Clyde Prestowitz, is your book -- an unsparing but unhysterical catalog of American behavior that has made the world see us as self-centered and hypocritical. The counts in the indictment are familiar: We preach fair trade but underwrite American cotton farmers at such high prices that we keep African farmers in poverty. We guzzle petroleum, and then need a foreign policy that overemphasizes one region of the globe. We preach democracy and dance with tyrants. ''Rogue Nation'' could serve as an appendix to this month's global poll by the Pew Research Center, which shows a balloning fear and mistrust of the United States around the world. — Bill Keller
The Los Angeles Times
Prestowitz has done us an enormous service by pointing out that the men and women who call themselves conservatives today are truly radicals who have alienated America's friends everywhere. The great power of the United States is no longer perceived as benign — perhaps not anywhere outside of client states like Likud Israel and Taiwan. Prestowitz details the transgressions of rhetoric and action that have offended our erstwhile allies and led them to fear the Bush administration more than they fear the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. America, he contends, has ceased to be viewed as a "good international citizen" and has become a "candidate for the rogue nation list." — Warren I. Cohen
Publishers Weekly
As the worldwide outpouring of post-9/11 sympathy for America has given way to worldwide anti-American protests, Americans are asking why the world hates us. This nuanced but unsparing book gives a bill of particulars. American high-handedness has exacerbated tensions in hot spots from the West Bank to the Korean peninsula. American unilateralism has sabotaged a host of international agreements on such issues as land mines, biological weapons and the International Criminal Court. America preaches free trade while protecting its steel, textiles and agriculture from foreign competition. America, Atkins argues, runs a wasteful, SUV-centered economy while it rejects treaties on the environment and global warming. America's self-proclaimed role as champion of democracy flies in the face of its history of installing and supporting dictators in countries from Indonesia to Iraq. Most of all, Atkins says, the world fears America's overwhelming military might, now ominously paired with a doctrine of "preempting" the emergence of rival powers. These problems have been much discussed of late, but Prestowitz, author of Trading Places, pulls them together into a comprehensive and historically informed survey of contemporary U. S. foreign relations. Although he forthrightly calls the United States an imperial power, Prestowitz, a former Reagan Administration trade official, is by no means anti-American. He insists that America's intentions are usually good, and that the world likes and admires Americans when they live up to their own ideals. Still, his is a damning portrait of the United States as seen through the angry, bewildered eyes of foreigners: selfish, erratic, hypocritical, muscle-bound and a bad citizen of the world. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
In the enormous outpouring of books lambasting the Bush administration for its unilateralism, insensitivity to the needs of allies, excessive support for Israel, contempt for international institutions, imperial pretensions, overvaluation of military power, and neglect for "soft power" in all its many forms, Rogue Nation stands out for its comprehensive scope and its author's willingness to broaden the indictment to at least some aspects of Clinton's foreign policy. Like most of the anti-unilateralist literature streaming off the presses, Rogue Nation revives classic Jeffersonian arguments against what Prestowitz sees as the hubris of a nation drunk on military power and cultural success. Fair enough, and recent events in Iraq are reminding many neoimperialists of the political and human costs that can follow even successful military ventures abroad. But Rogue Nation works a well-ploughed field, and it offers little help to anyone seriously trying to think through a more multilateral strategy for the United States in these dangerous times. It does serve, however, as perhaps the best guide available to the arguments of those who would be happier with a humbler and more cautious Bush administration.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465062799
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/18/2003
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Clyde Prestowitz is President of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, D.C., and is the author of Trading Places and Rogue Nation. He lives in Potomac, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

1 At Odds with the World - and Ourselves 1
2 The Unacknowledged Empire 19
3 America's Game 51
4 Running on Empty 81
5 Who Lost Kyoto? 111
6 In Arms We Trust 143
7 Peaceful People, Endless War 171
8 Wagging the Dog: Two Tales 193
9 Friends and Foes 227
10 City on a Hill 267
Notes 285
Recommended Reading 305
Acknowledgments 311
Index 315
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