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This book brings what seem like senseless acts of desperation into focus as strategically intelligible and culturally meaningful techniques of resistance.
The international rule of law provides political resources with which states and other actors legitimize and delegitimize contending policies. The atomistic nature of the interstate system means that the international version of the concept cannot be modeled on the domestic one, but also that it cannot be reduced simply to the obligation on states to comply with their legal commitments.
The practice of state compliance with international law is not that easily demonstrated to be the product of legal constraint. Indeed, the problem goes beyond international law since the practice whereby a state generally complies with its own domestic law is hardly different in this respect.
This essay advances an alternative perspective on culture and international law. After exploring in greater detail determinist accounts of this relationship, I reverse the typically assumed causal pathway between culture and law, presenting international law as a mediating social institution, one that structures global cultural interaction and negotiation.
U.S. drone strikes represent a significant challenge to the international rule of law. This is not because they “violate” international law; ironically, drone strikes might be less destabilizing, from a rule-of-law perspective, if they could be easily categorized as blatant instances of rule-breaking.
Whence does international law derive its normative force as law in a world that remains, in many respects, one where legitimate politics is practiced primarily at the national level?