Can Rules Make Us Safer?

International Security and the Dilemma of Rules

Wednesday, September 5, 2007 03:00 PM to 05:00 PM


Since the start of the Iraq War, commentators and policymakers across the political spectrum have found fault with the rules governing the international security order. Critics from the right have argued that international law and the United Nations were incapable of dealing with transnational terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration took these criticisms to heart, and promoted a radical revision of the international legal order through preemptive military action in Iraq.

Critics from the left argued that the war in Iraq undermined the security provided by a rule-governed system, pointing to the weakening of the norms concerning torture and the legitimacy of the Security Council. Both sides in this debate fail to appreciate the dilemmas that arise that arise from the hope that rules can solve all political problems. On the one hand, we need rules to structure international affairs, but, on the other, rules often fail to reflect changes in the international order and can prevent innovation.

In this talk, Anthony F. Lang, Jr. examines these dilemmas by exploring what rules can and cannot do in the war on terrorism, pointing toward a possible world order that emphasizes constitutionalism as a way to reorder international security.

Lang is a Senior Lecturer in the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. He has held full-time faculty positions at the American University in Cairo and Albright College, and served as an adjunct professor at Yale University and Bard College.

Policy Innovations
Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
170 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065-7478

(212) 838-4120
(212) 752-2432 - Fax

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External Web Link: Anthony Lang's bio (Opens a New Window)

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