Elephant Amok

This book joins dozens of others that have been written over the past two years with the goal of subjecting President George W. Bush’s foreign policy to critical scrutiny.  Clyde Prestowitz’s objections are often justified—notably on the Middle East—and stated with clarity.  His recommended remedies reflect a strong One World liberal bias, however, while failing to make a useful contribution to the necessary and long-overdue debate on the purpose, use, and limits of American power.

Rogue Nation—a title the author admits to be deliberately provocative—is an indictment of the present administration for “soft imperialism” and in-your-face unilateralism.  In the aftermath of September 11—when Le Monde proclaimed “Nous sommes tous Améri-cains”—Mr. Bush missed an opportunity, Prestowitz claims, to “come to reason together” with his European partners and to cooperate in the creation of “a new, better, world order.”  The United States opted for a quest for supremacy instead, and the President’s West Point speech in June 2002 marked the adoption of a radical new doctrine of preemption and global dominance.

Prestowitz admits that national egoism is a natural impulse that has guided the foreign policies of powers great and small for centuries, but he contends that the haughtiness...

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