"The Assault on International Law" by Jens David Ohlin

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 30.1 (Spring 2016)

March 10, 2016

Detail from book cover

The Assault on International Law, Jens David Ohlin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 304 pp., $29.95 cloth. doi:10.1017/S0892679415000672

Review by Robert Howse

In the wake of the second Iraq war Jacques Derrida and Jurgen Habermas, two of Europe’s leading intellectuals, wrote that the United States had abandoned the vision of the rule of law in international affairs. The post-World War II ideal was being replaced with a concept of American exceptionalism—the unilateral projection of power (including force) in the service of a universalizing political morality, purportedly rooted in distinctive American values of democracy and freedom. In The Assault on International Law, Jens David Ohlin—an accomplished scholar of the law of war and a professionally trained philosopher—sees the threat to international law in a rather different light.

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