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Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism And The Failure Of Good Intentions Hardcover – May 13, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"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." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (May 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465062792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465062799
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,844,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By George L. Turin on September 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Quite simply put, this is the best book I've read on the status of the world in general, of its various hot spots in particular, of America's current role in them, and of alternative roles that it should rather play.
Prestowitz is a conservative Republican, a former member of the Reagan administration, and an elder of the Presbyterian church--scarcely the type one would expect to call America a rogue nation. But as a conservative he has very critical things to say about the neo-conservatives that currently control our foreign policy, whose agenda he says "is not conservativism at all but radicalism, egotism, and adventurism articulated in the stirring rhetoric of traditional patriotism."
The book is a compelling answer to Kagan's popular "Of Paradise and Order," which tends to characterize America, through neo-conservative glasses, as the only agent that can save the world from itself, an agent that "by advancing [its] own interests ... advance[s] the interests of humanity."
Two very different views of America's role. Every thinking American should understand the difference between them.
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96 of 105 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on May 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Rogue Nation" examines a host of issues on which the U.S. has found itself at odds with the world: free trade agreements, global warming, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the treaty to eliminate land mines, the creation of an International Criminal Court, the war on Iraq, and more. The book is valuable regardless of whether or not the reader agrees with Prestowitz's politics (he's a longtime conservative and a former Reagan administration official) or his opinions on environmental, economic, and foreign policy concerns. Indeed, it's often hard to pinpoint the author's place on the ideological spectrum. For example, many conservatives will disagree with his support of several international agreements discarded by the Bush administration. Both conservatives and liberals will be dissatisfied about his ambivalence on the need for the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Many liberals will be turned off by his statement that, as of March 2003, "there is little choice for the United States and whatever partners it can gather to overthrow Saddam and occupy Iraq."
What troubles Prestowitz, however, is not America's international policies per se but the manner in which we pursue those policies--a manner that may not always meant to be arrogant but certainly seems to be to the rest of the world. What especially distresses him are certain unilateralist principles proposed and implemented by "neoconservatives" like Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.
In a way, it's too bad that Prestowitz chose such a deliberately provocative title, since the book itself, while undeniably opinionated, makes considerable effort to present both sides of every issue. Yet he correctly acknowledges that much of the international community regards the United States as a "rogue nation"--whether we are in fact or not.
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In response to 9/11, Bernard Lewis bloviated in "What Went Wrong" (with respect to the Islamic world), that when things go wrong for you, you can either say: "who did this to me" and point the finger at someone else, or; you can ask "what did we do to ourselves and how do we fix it". There is a third question, however, that Lewis doesn't ask- "what have we done to them (that they feel the way they do)". Clyde Prestowitz does exactly that.
Many readers may think this book the rantings of a left-wing ideologue, but for the fact it comes from a conservative. Prestowitz was a US trade negotiator under the Reagan Administration and possesses conservative values on par with any Reaganite.
Rogue Nations examines the inconsistency between what America preaches versus America's conduct, implemented through our policies. His ability to understand arises from his experience as a negotiator; i.e., one, who by profession, must listen and understand the other side in order obtain what he wants for America. This skill in listening serves him well because he presents to the readership the admiration and disappointments of others with America's behaviour.
Prestowitz begins with a very interesting point about America itself. He believes America is a religion. The American idea, articulated so well in the Bill of Rights, inheres in every citizen an idealism and vision that every person in the world can grab onto and believe regardless of race, religion, and gender. More importantly, is the belief that if "America" is good for us, then it must be good for everyone else and should be exported.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on July 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Clyde Prestowitz bears conservative credentials, as evidenced by his position as a trade representative in the Reagan Administration and his self-acknowledged life long status as a Republican. This reflective work demonstrates that he knows far more about what conservatism traditionally encompasses than the frantic neoconservatives of the Ann Coulter and Mona Charen stripe.
Prestowitz persuasively argues that the bedrock of conservatism is evolutionary growth. Traditional conservatism differs from traditional liberalism basically on emphasis and government experimentation, with the liberal being more willing to resort to government action and the conservative adopting more of a "prove it to me that it works posture." As Prestowitz notes, traditional conservatism adheres to upholding and building upon international law and the framework of existing traditions. It is a philosophy that also adheres to a civil libertarian posture on civil liberties, totally apart from the philosophy of Bush-Ashcroft of incarcerating first and asking questions later.
Conservative leaders of the past such as Dewey, Eisenhower, Willkie, Nixon and Ford favored strengthening American ties through international institutions such as the United Nations and alliances in which America is a willing partner rather than a ruling master. Eisenhower was so staunchly opposed to the idea of preventive war that the former supreme allied commander of World War Two stated bluntly as president that he did not even care to talk to anyone who espoused the dangerous idea.
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