Readings: Laura A. Dickinson, Outsourcing War & Peace

By Kenneth Anderson
Saturday, May 26, 2012, 4:29 PM

George Washington University Law School's Laura A. Dickinson's book from Yale University Press (2012), Outsourcing War & Peace: Preserving Public Values in a World of Privatized Foreign Affairs, is quite possibly the most important work on private contracting in the national security and foreign affairs fields since Peter W. Singer's Corporate Warriors appeared in 2003.  This is saying a lot, since the books since Singer's book include investigative journalism by Jeremy Scahill and David Isenberg, and academic writing by Paul R. Verkuil and Deborah D. Avant, along with scores if not hundreds of journal articles across many disciplines.  Nonetheless, this book is distinguished by its combination of a legal-policy framework that - though many, including me, will disagree with one part or another - is firmly rooted in pragmatic understandings of international and US domestic law; the resulting pragmatism of its ultimate policy prescriptions; and above all by the working of extensive interviews and direct research into the legal-policy framework.  Opinio Juris has just completed a weeklong symposium on Dickinson's book, which I commend to everyone interested in this field.