Book Review: The Many Faces of Power: An International Law Response to Robert Kagan’s “Of Paradise and Power”


After summarizing the main points of Kagan’s book, the review responds to Kagan’s perception of power using the assumptions of international law, contrasting his definition of power to that of several international legal scholars. It then places Kagan’s realist approach in a broader context of international relations and international legal theory, beginning with a discussion of challenges to realism, and concluding with an examination of the growing body of “integrationist” literature which posits that the fields of international law and international relations are merging. The review then returns to the question of power, examining ways in which Kagan’s book challenges international lawyers to consider how military and doctrinal power interact. Finally, the review concludes by agreeing with Kagan that the current rift between the US and Europe is likely to grow, but disagreeing on the result: Whereas Kagan foresees a world where the all-powerful US eventually disregards Europe, its former friend which is no longer of any strategic use to US interests, this review foresees a world where the powerful rules-based society of the European Union will continue to grow, creating a potent counter-balance to the US.


International Law

Date of this Version

December 2003