Fred Hiatt's March 31 op-ed column, which purported to show the similarities between the Bush and Clinton positions on matters such as the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court and the ABM Treaty, inadvertently made the opposite point: that the subtle differences between the two presidents' approaches have made a world of difference in our diplomatic relationships.

Even when he differed with the European Union, Bill Clinton's positions were nuanced, politically adroit and offered with a sense of partnership and mutuality. By contrast, George W. Bush's approach has contained an air of dismissiveness, as if the president wouldn't or perhaps couldn't engage the world on the issues.

Ironically, the two worst spokesmen for the war effort are President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; President Bush's rhetorical shortcomings and utter lack of reflectiveness and Mr. Rumsfeld's air of arrogance and peevishness have played no small role in alienating world opinion.

Mr. Hiatt's column may contain an optimistic message: Small changes in tone, temperament and thoughtfulness from a new administration in 2005 could make a major difference in our international standing and prestige.

The ability to work constructively in a multilateral, global environment should be an important part of any Democratic Party platform.

JEFFREY ROWAN

Washington