THOSE responsible for United States foreign policy must do a better job of integrating science and technology considerations into their activities if the US is to maintain its global leadership role. That is the premise underlying a recent report by the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government.
The range of issues with strong scientific or technological components is growing, the report notes - from climate change, economic development, and public health to international cooperation on basic-research projects such as the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC).
Whether the White House, State Department, or Congress, "all must take bold and imaginative steps to adapt to a world in which the border between domestic and foreign affairs is crossed everywhere and most particularly by science and technology," the report states.
President Bush's recent trip to Japan is a testament to the need for change, says Rodney Nichols, one of the report's authors. "The Bush trip to Tokyo was a disaster," he says, " because nobody was integrating the strands of economic, scientific, and foreign-policy issues."
One goal of that trip was to bring home Japanese support for the SSC. Yet, says a congressional source, "the Japanese see it as a US project in which we're asking them to help out because we're broke."
"International programs will have to be discussed in advance" of starting them, he concludes, if the United States is to be more successful in attracting partners to such projects.