The Woodrow Wilson Center Press
The Fog of Law: Pragmatism, Security, and International Law
When and why are international rules binding? Focusing on questions of state security, The Fog of Law considers the nature of obligation in international law. In so doing, it challenges the prevailing theories of obligation based on natural law or positive law approaches.
Michael J. Glennon argues for a pragmatist approach to international law—that international law has force when enough countries honor it. Using elements of rational choice theory, Glennon describes an international "frame of mind" that draws on the fluctuating network of incentives and disincentives surrounding international rules to explain states' uneven compliance. The Fog of Law defends its approach through discussions of key contemporary security issues, including the United Nations' use of force rules, security assurances, nuclear proliferation, and the new crime of aggression proposed for the International Criminal Court.
What People are Saying
"Michael Glennon is the most articulate advocate of legal pragmatism since Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The Fog of Law provides a rigorous theoretical basis for a recommendation that the UN Charter's rules on use of force be declared in desuetude, and sheds light on the proposed law of aggression and other disputed issues. No defender of legal universalism can afford to ignore the challenge of this book." —Pierre Hassner, Research Director Emeritus, Sciences Po, Paris
"At a time when many seek peace and security through treaties, statutes, and UN Security Council resolutions, Glennon wisely reminds us that what matters most is not how much law statesmen create, but how much they actually follow."
—Charles Lane, author of The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction
"A most timely contribution that provokes important reflections, whatever one's perspective on the rule of law or the limits of international law. This book deserves to be read widely in the United States and, even more so, beyond its shores, to understand the politics of pragmatism."—Philippe Sands, University College London
Introduction: The Pragmatist Approach to International Law
Chapter One: Does International Law Matter?
Chapter Two: Why Some International Rules Are Not Obeyed
Chapter Three: Why Some International Legal Rules Are Obeyed
Chapter Four: Objections to the Doctrine of Desuetude—and the Pragmatist Reply
Chapter Five: Why Process Matters
Chapter Six: A Pragmatist Approach to Security
Chapter Seven: How Not to Deal with Nuclear Proliferation
Chapter Eight: A Pragmatist View of the United Nations
Chapter Nine: The Proposed Crime of Aggression
Conclusion: Pragmatism versus Moralism Index