03 Sep Eric Posner’s New Book Is Out
The Perils of Global Legalism (University of Chicago 2009) is just out, I see, and my copy just arrived via the magic of Amazon one-click. I read an early ms. draft, but am looking forward to reading the final version. This is yet another book from Eric that promises to provoke lots of people in the international law community, but which I find to be full of insights. I strongly recommend it. Once I’ve actually had a chance to read the final version, I will come back and post some more about it and, who knows, perhaps OJ should have a mini-symposium or some such. (While I am noting Eric-related things, he has a new comment up at Volokh commenting on Duncan’s earlier question here at OJ about 1Ls taking public international law, and to which he says an emphatic ‘no’.) Here is the book description from Amazon:
The first months of the Obama administration have led to expectations, both in the United States and abroad, that in the coming years America will increasingly promote the international rule of law—a position that many believe is both ethically necessary and in the nation’s best interests.
With The Perils of Global Legalism, Eric A. Posner explains that such views demonstrate a dangerously naive tendency toward legalism—an idealistic belief that law can be effective even in the absence of legitimate institutions of governance. After tracing the historical roots of the concept, Posner carefully lays out the many illusions—such as universalism, sovereign equality, and the possibility of disinterested judgment by politically unaccountable officials—on which the legalistic view is founded. Drawing on such examples as NATO’s invasion of Serbia, attempts to ban the use of land mines, and the free-trade provisions of the WTO, Posner demonstrates throughout that the weaknesses of international law confound legalist ambitions—and that whatever their professed commitments, all nations stand ready to dispense with international agreements when it suits their short- or long-term interests.
Provocative and sure to be controversial, The Perils of Global Legalism will serve as a wake-up call for those who view global legalism as a panacea—and a reminder that international relations in a brutal world allow no room for illusions.