The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World
Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. xxii + 430 pp.
If one asked a group of historians, political scientists, and lawyers what they would consider the single most important treaty or international agreement of the last two centuries, one could expect a familiar set of names to be cited: Vienna, Versailles, the Geneva Conventions, Bretton Woods, Yalta, San Francisco, the GATT, Rome, Helsinki. Few would name the 1928 General Treaty for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, also known as the Paris Peace Pact and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, as the most significant. Yet this is the claim put forward by Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro in The Internationalists. The book is an original and provocative work that is grippingly written and makes an ambitious set of arguments spanning several different fields including history, international relations, political science, and international law. Hathaway and Shapiro are distinguished legal scholars at Yale Law School, where Hathaway teaches and works mainly on international law (besides her legal scholarship, she has served as Special Counsel to the General Counsel for National Security Law at the Pentagon); Shapiro holds appointments at the Law School as well as the Philosophy Department at Yale.
The Internationalists contains three layers of analysis. The first recovers the Kellogg-Briand Pact and underscores its singular importance to world history. Yet the Paris Peace Pact emerges from the book not so much as a significant episode in its own right—only a dozen or so pages are devoted to the way the treaty actually came to be—but rather as a pivotal point in the history of international law since the early seventeenth century. The essential argument of the book therefore resides at a deeper level, in what Hathaway and Shapiro call the turn from the Old World Order to the New World Order.