Thursday, May 08, 2008

Guest-blogging at Opinio Juris May 19-25

The folks over at Opinio Juris have very kindly invited me to guest blog there during the week of May 19-25. It is one of the genuinely high quality law blogs, a great combination of voices, so I hope I will have something to add.

I am greatly tempted to join the discussion of Peter Spiro’s new, outstanding book - outstanding, splendid, and well worth your buying it despite my disagreements with it - that will take place on Opinio Juris next week. I might yet. However, I am looking to persuade an editor to let me review it as part of a larger review, and it probably doesn’t help things if I shoot my wad off on a blog before a review is published. So I will probably refrain.

What kinds of things cross my mind to blog about? My interests are a little different from most of the Opinio Juris folks - I have long standing interests in laws of war and international law and human rights law, of course, but my day job is actually as an international business and finance professor. Although even there, my interests run toward nonprofits, ngos, international philanthropy, and global civil society. Development finance, microfinance, international development paradigms. I have a long standing interest in terrorism and counterterrorism that long predates 9-11; one of my favorite, if unsung, roles is on the editorial board of the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence, dating back to the 1980s. I have a very long standing interest in ethics of war, just war theory, and am currently looking at the ethics of war in the Second Inaugural Address, contrasting Lincoln’s views in the Address with Sherman, McClellan and ... well, there’s no easy way to put this, but I am interested in certain comparisons to Albert Camus, Rene Char, and Raymond Aron. There, I’ve said it. The idea and limitations of humanitarian neutrality. And of course ... robot soldiers!!

Also, I am very interested, for the first time in my career as an academic, in trying to understand the shape of the scholarship that makes up international law scholarship. I’ve never really paid attention to it. Now I am - and am increasingly finding that the most interesting connections draw one back to the larger questions of where legal scholarship is going in an age of reinvigorated legal realism as social science, rationalism and empiricism. The triumph of the Higher Utilitarianism in the legal academy - we are living the age of a kind of combined Cass Sunstein and Eric Posner. It must be a sign of age - although because I started into academic law in my mid-40s, I haven’t been doing this that long - that I’d get interested in the navel-gazing.

What else? Strategy and tactics in the US response to transnational jihadist terror - and the alternative approach that Cass Sunstein offers, in Worst Case Scenarios, of a narrow cost benefit analysis, or the other analysis from cost benefit analysis given by Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule - very interesting Opinio Juris forum on this - but what interests me is the implications of cost benefit analysis. It is, as Philip Bobbitt has said (he says he doesn’t recall, and the reason is that it was an offhand remark while we were walking around my neighborhood as he smoked a cigar a couple of months ago), “relentlessly tactical.”

So there are a lot of things on my mind to blog about - how much they really have to do with international law, though, I have no idea. I fear that I am going to bore - or mystify - the Opinio Juris readership.

Anyway, hope you can join us at Opinio Juris, that week and every week!

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