No topic has been the subject of more confusion in contemporary thought about international problems than the relationship between politics and law. There is, among many people interested in international affairs, a strong inclination to treat law as something independent of, and ethically superior to, politics. ‘The moral force of law’ is contrasted with the implicitly immoral methods of politics. We are exhorted to establish ‘the rule of law’, to maintain ‘international law and order’ or to ‘defend international law’; and the assumption is made that, by so doing, we shall transfer our differences from the turbulent political atmosphere of self-interest to the purer, serener air of impartial justice. Before adhering to these popular conceptions, we must examine rather carefully the nature and function of law in the international community and its relation to international politics.
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E. H. Carr
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