Date: 08-17-2003

HONOLULU (Aug. 17) -- With the United States "squandering recklessly" the goodwill it has held in the world, a trade expert who served under the Reagan administration said the United States should sign the Kyoto accord to help improve its image in the world.

Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute and chief negotiator for U.S.-Japan trade talks under the Reagan presidency, said the global treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which the Bush administration rejected, was originally unfair to the United States. But now it includes everything that U.S. negotiators had wanted, he said.

"We should sign it now," said Prestowitz, an East-West Center alumnus who spoke in Honolulu last week. "The impact that would have on the U.S. image abroad would be incredible."

Prestowitz is the author of "Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions," which warns of the dangers of U.S. unilateralism. He said he wrote the book after hearing "longtime friends of the United States" around the world say the United States was "turning its back on everything you seemed to stand for in the last 50 years.

"We are increasingly running out of friends at a time when we need more friends," Prestowitz said.

He criticized the Bush administration for not signing international agreements on land mines, small arms, and biological and toxins weapons, as well as on rights of women and children. The United States actively opposed the creation of an international criminal court "designed precisely for guys like Saddam Hussein. We won't sign, we have a jihad against it."

Then came the war in Iraq, waged without U.N. approval. To the rest of the world, the United States seems to be saying "we're a kind of chosen people. We don't need what the rest of the world needs.

"The United States is the country people look up to. It offers hope for a better life. But we are squandering recklessly this goodwill."

He commended President George Bush's "road map" -- a peace plan for Palestinians and Israelis -- and said he was surprised Bush pursued it because "it goes against the political support from conservative Republicans. It deserves full support." Prestowitz said Americans don't realize the importance Muslims around the world attach to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Clyde Prestowitz can be reached at

This is an East-West Wire, copyright East-West Center