cover image Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules from FDR's Atlantic Charter to George W. Bush's Illegal War

Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules from FDR's Atlantic Charter to George W. Bush's Illegal War

Philippe Sands, Author . Viking $25.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-670-03452-9

Sands, a British international lawyer and law professor, delivers a cool, reasoned lashing to the Bush administration for leading—and to Tony Blair for colluding with—a "full-scale assault" on the international rule of law, in this richly detailed survey of modern international legal disputes. Since FDR and Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter after WWII, putting in place a rules-based system limiting the use of force, protecting human rights and promoting fair economic liberalization, the world has seen a transformation of international relations, Sands explains, most dramatically marked by Bush's decision to "go it alone." Tracking the current administration's "efforts to rewrite international law into irrelevance," Sands covers the Pinochet case, the creation of the International Criminal Court, U.S. abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the U.S.'s selectively multilateralist policy vis-à-vis global free trade, and the "disgraces" of Guantánamo, Iraq and Abu Ghraib. The author also presents a series of dense but lucidly written legal stories to illustrate how the Bush administration's unilateralism has had egregious consequences for 21st-century efforts to make the world safer, cleaner and more just. (Nov.)