Book Announcement: The United States and the Rule of Law in International Affairs


Publisher Cambridge University Press


Book Announcement

The United States does not always accept the rule of law in international affairs, even though it has made immense contributions to its creation, adoption, and implementation. Examining the reasons for this failure, John Murphy analyzes a number of cases, not to make a case that the United States has been an international outlaw, but to illustrate the wide-ranging difficulties standing in the way of United States adherence to the rule of law. He explains how the nature of the United States legal system and the idiosyncrasies of the international legal process combine to compound problems for the United States, and he explores several alternative scenarios for the position of the United States vis-à-vis international law. This timely book offers a much needed examination of United States attitudes and practices and makes a major contribution to the contemporary literature in international law and international relations.

“Professor Murphy’s book will be essential reading for all who wish to understand the complex interaction between international law and US foreign policy. At a time when the U.S. commitment to international law and cooperation is being widely questioned, his informed, insightful and balanced discussion is an important and much-needed contribution.” Richard B. Bilder, Foley and Lardner Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School

“Professor Murphy has written a thoughtful, intellectually rigorous, readily accessible overview of the relationship between the United States and contemporary international law. This volume provides a superb starting point for those seeking to understand the role of the sole superpower in today's global legal order.” Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia, former Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law

“The U.S. view of international law has been confused and inconsistent. Is it a tool in the conduct of foreign policy, or an encumbrance? Or is international law simply too irrelevant for The Superpower? John Murphy’s book provides essential insight. Free of the polemic that usually infects this debate, it is comprehensive, exhaustively researched, eminently objective, and readable. This is a book that everyone interested in U.S. foreign policy should read.” Arthur T. Downey, former lawyer, State Department, and former staff member, National Security Council

“Murphy’s volume marks a signal contribution to both the literatures of international law and U.S. foreign policy. No other work has attempted to assess in such detail the role of international law within the process of U.S. foreign policy making. In this respect, the book supplies an excellent, relevant treatment of policy and legal process at its best. The analysis is timely as it incisively treats the implications that international law holds for US foreign policy in the early 21st century. Murphy’s assessment is lucid without being simplified, and serves to combine clear and balanced explanations of how international law intersects with policy without gratuitous jargon. Remarkably cogent and readable, this work will undoubtedly be welcomed as a significant contribution to both academics and practitioners of American foreign policy.” Christopher C. Joyner, Professor, Georgetown University

"This book will be enormously valuable to anyone interested in understanding the historical context-- and future implications-- of current official American views on the proper role of law in international affairs. John Murphy covers this ground issue by issue, interspersing fact and commentary from a wide range of sources with his own solid and balanced analysis." John Lawrence Hargrove, former Director of Studies and Executive Director, American Society of International Law

"Informed by a deep knowledge of American law and policy John Murphy explains from a critical but objective perspective those current attitudes towards international law that so worry friends of the United States. Richly referenced and lucidly written, this masterly study is a timely reminder of the responsibilities of power. It needs to be read by students, scholars, diplomats, and all internationalists." Ivan Shearer, Challis Professor of International Law Emeritus, University of Sydney


International Law

Date of this Version

September 2004

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