Unilateral Action and Changing International Rules — Reagan and Obama — An Untold Story.

Recently gave a short presentation on Eric Holder’s legal defense of the Obama administration’s policies concerning military commissions and targeted killings. But my main point was how unilateral actions by the U.S. can help change outdated international law rules. In fact, there is an untold story here that links President Reagan’s foreign policies challenging international law with those of President Obama’s.
But this is somewhat at odds with President Obama’s focus generally on legal rights and responsibilities of states, preference for developing institutional linkages globally, and support of multilateral institutions.
The above seems to be core aspects of President Obama’s underlying approach for his evolving architecture for global  governance and foreign policy-making. This approach stems from his law school teaching and realpolitik as a politician and national executive in charge of foreign policy, military affairs, and national security
President Obama’s emphasis on developing domestic and international law in light of the national interests of the U.S. in the post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras is a continuing story — with more interesting developments to occur, most likely. Law always needs to develop to take account of a wide-range of newer realities and in context of our underlying values.
 Malawer, “Changing International Law to Conform to Newer Global Realities & National Interests — From Reagan to Obama — The Untold Story.”  (April 4, 2012).

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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