A deeply researched, fully updated edition of The National Security Constitution that explores the growing imbalance of institutional powers in American foreign affairs and national security policy
Since the beginning of the American Republic, a package of norms has evolved in the U.S. Constitution to protect the operation of checks and balances in national security policy. This “National Security Constitution” promotes shared powers and balanced institutional participation in foreign policymaking. Today it is under attack from a competing claim of executive unilateralism generated by recurrent patterns of presidential activism, congressional passivity, and judicial tolerance. This dynamic has pushed presidents of both parties to press the limits of law in foreign affairs.
In his award-winning National Security Constitution (1990), Harold Hongju Koh traced the evolution of this constitutional struggle across America’s history. This new book, based on the earlier volume but with roughly 70 percent new material, brings the story to the present, placing recent events into constitutional perspective. Reviewing the presidencies of the twenty-first century, he explains why modern national security threats have given presidents of both parties incentives to monopolize foreign policy decision-making, Congress incentives to defer, and the courts reasons to rubber-stamp. Koh suggests both a workable strategy and crucial prescriptions to restore the balance of our constitutional order in addressing modern global crises.
Harold Hongju Koh is Sterling Professor of International Law and former dean at Yale Law School, and former State Department Legal Adviser and Assistant Secretary of Human Rights. He has received eighteen honorary degrees, more than thirty human rights awards, and prizes from Columbia Law School and the American Bar Association for his lifetime achievements in international law. He is the author of nine books, including The National Security Constitution.
“The National Security Constitution in the Twenty-First Century is quite simply the best book ever written about its daunting subject. It is as brimming with practical advice as it is steeped in theoretical sophistication. Harold Hongju Koh’s topic is nothing less than the intricate system through which the United States Constitution structures America’s institutional arrangements for coping with global complexity and managing the challenges of securing the Nation while respecting self-government, adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all those affected by an ever more powerful federal Executive Branch. Written with the perspective that only experience can nurture, the wisdom that no amount of experience can ensure, and the brilliance that alone can bring wisdom and experience into alignment, Koh’s masterpiece will be required reading long after the dust has settled on the many crises that grip our attention as the first third of the twenty-first century comes to an end. But trying to cope with those crises without first reading this magisterial work would be sheer folly.”—Laurence Tribe, Harvard University
“Harold Hongju Koh represents that extraordinary public intellectual capable of dexterously operating at the highest levels of academia, government, and multilateral fora with equal skill and insight. In The National Security Constitution in the Twenty-First Century, he shares a timely analysis and provocative blueprint for fixing broken institutions which the free world desperately needs restored to their proper equilibrium. The world looks to the United States to be who we say we are, and Americans who believe in that hard-earned exceptional role in the world look to Harold to help our institutions find our way back to that essential place. We would all do well not just to read his work but to act on it.”—John Kerry, 68th Secretary of State, President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
“Few people understand the complex workings of our National Security Constitution better than Harold Hongju Koh, and no one analyzes and explains them better. In this outstanding scholarly achievement, Professor Koh describes the growing dysfunction caused by institutional failures in all three branches of our federal government, and recommends a badly needed, workable strategy for constitutional repair.”—Chris Coons, U.S. senator from Delaware
“This book will be the new bible for security and international law, not just in the USA but all over the world. It represents a life’s work that will inspire scholars, judges, and public servants for generations.”—Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Supreme Court of Canada (retired), Samuel Pisar Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School
“Harold Hongju Koh is a giant among those who think and live the American Constitution’s approach to foreign policy and international relations. The National Security Constitution in the Twenty-First Century, his latest contribution to the field, is a tour de force. It is must reading for anyone interested in the subject.”—John Sexton, president emeritus, New York University
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