Progress in Enforcing International Law Against Rogue States?: Comparing the 1930's With the Current Age of Nuclear Proliferation
PROGRESS IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION, Rebecca Bratspies and Russell Miller, eds., Spring 2008
22 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2007
This essay is a chapter in a forthcoming book, Progress in International Organization, which updates Professor Manley O. Hudson's 1932 book of the same title. In the introduction to his book, Hudson predicted that "when the history of our times comes to be written . . . our generation will be distinguished, above all else . . . for the progress which we have made in organizing the world for co-operation and peace." Yet Hudson's interwar generation is today best known to history for its naïve appeasement of Axis aggression.
The chapter first reviews how and why Hudson's generation failed to enforce international law during the 1930s against Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, and Mussolini's Italy, and how this failure contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Then it turns to one of the greatest security challenges of our time - the proliferation of nuclear weapons - and examines how and why the international community is again failing to take the enforcement measures necessary to prevent a major calamity.
The chapter posits that while great progress has been made in many areas of international organization since Hudson's book was published in 1932, there has been relatively little progress on an issue pivotal to organizing the world for peace and security: enforcing international law against dangerous rogue states.
Efforts to dissuade today's most dangerous rogue states - Iran and North Korea - from developing nuclear arsenals are often as toothless as were the efforts to dissuade the Axis powers from aggression prior to World War II. The results coming out of the Security Council today are sometimes practically indistinguishable from the results that emerged from the League of Nations during the interwar period.
While the interwar generation was blinded in considerable part by naïve ideology, the Security Council today is being rendered ineffectual by avarice. The international community's hesitation to firmly enforce international law against Germany, Italy and Japan contributed to World War II's 60 million deaths in six years. War in this atomic age could be even deadlier. The fruits of progress in other areas of international organization once again risk being spoiled by a failure to firmly enforce international law against rogue states.
Keywords: international law, sanctions, League of Nations, World War II, appeasement, enforcement, nuclear, Security Council
JEL Classification: K33, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation