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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: September 2009

3 - When states use armed force


In exploring the state and nature of the relationship between law and politics in the sphere of international relations, it could be said that there is qualified merit in returning to the apparent wisdom of past orthodoxies. In these teachings, separate methodological and professional identities have taken shape – or, to be sure, have been projected – for both international law and politics, and these are perhaps best evidenced in the scholarship of Hans Morgenthau, the high priest of classical realism, who advocated ‘upholding the autonomy of the political realm’ because of his conviction that the political realist is engaged in a discrete form of human thinking – where interest is defined as power, ‘as the economist thinks in terms of interest defined as wealth; the lawyer, of the conformity of action with legal rules; the moralist, of the conformity of action with moral principles’. Here, let it be noted, the ‘political realm’ is the venue for the most intimate forms and tasks of sovereignty, cut distinct from the pedestrian enterprises of international law and its many sub-disciplines as well as with those preoccupied with ‘rules’ and with quaint statistical synopses of conformity and compliance patterns in state behaviour. In this respect, international law takes on something of a distinctly alien form, removed and remote from the ground realities of sovereign relations: it is caught up in its own methodologies and indulgences, and is divorced from the decisions it aspires to influence.

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