International law is not an ideology. It is a system of law. It is almost 400 years old. The United States today may claim credit for some of the most important developments in international law. Since the Founding, our leaders have consistently understood the importance of international law to American goals and values. It is true that beginning in the 1960s, misinformation and misunderstanding about international law began to emerge political science departments, then apparently even crept into some law schools. We now have a knowledge gap respecting international law in the United States and it is becoming a handicap in our relations with other nations. It is time to return to our roots and become learned again in this area of law.
-- IntLawGrrls guest/alumna Mary Ellen O'Connell, in a super Balkinization guest essay that takes on the current crop of intlaw critics. Indeed, it's hard to pluck just 1 quote from her eloquent post: its range includes discussion of international law as a national-sovereignty-strengthener to Presidential respect for international law dating to the days it was still called the law of nations. Mary Ellen concludes her essay in the same vein as this excellent Opinio Juris post by our colleague Laura A. Dickinson. They have joined many others, including IntLawGrrls Beth Van Schaack (here), Jaya Ramji-Nogales (here), and yours truly (here), in concluding, as Mary Ellen's post puts it:
This is America’s tradition: leadership in international law. It is also the way forward.
But returning to this tradition may not be a simple matter given our declining expertise. President Obama has asked one of the leading experts on international law in the United States to take on the top international law job: Dean Harold Koh [right] will give the President accurate advice on what international law requires and the advantages it offers our country and the world.