Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
American law academics should speak and write about the role and influence of the American legal system in the modern legal world with some diffidence. In a sense, this is an issue that is better addressed from the outside. Foreign jurists, who experience the American legal system from the outside, are likely to be in a much better position to gauge the effect and influence of American legal institutions on the world legal order than is an American academic or practitioner.
On the other hand, as the end of what some have called “the American Century” has come and gone, the issue of America's relationship with the other great and small lands, jurisdictions, economic and political systems, and cultures of the modern world has come very much to the fore. Questions that were often muted during the long years of the Cold War are now fueling public debate in the stark new world following the fall of the Berlin Wall, September 11, 2001, and the American invasion of Iraq. This is a time to talk and write frankly in the hope that honest dialogue will increase understanding and enable us to work better together to make the world a better place for all our grandchildren.
This chapter focuses on three main themes. The initial part discusses the various structural and political conditions and circumstances that define and affect the relationship of American law and the American legal system with the global legal order.