When Can Nations Go to War? Politics and Change in the UN Securtiy System

In an appreciation of Harold Jacobson written for the American Journal of International Law, the author concluded that following the events of September 11, 2001, we would need the kind of gentle wisdom Harold Jacobson brought to his tasks more than ever. The author also recalled Harold Jacobson’s own observation in Networks of Interdependence that his assessment of the global political system was an optimistic, but not a naive one. These qualities of quiet determination to get to the bottom of an issue and of optimism stemmed from a fundamental belief that individuals, armed with information and the opportunity for debate, could make important decisions wisely. This was at the heart of his interest in politics and sustained his deep commitment to working carefully through information to provide the fullest possible understanding of a problem. The last major project Harold Jacobson worked on was one that he conceived and directed with me to understand how accountability could be maintained when decisions to use military forces are made by international institutions not directly accountable, as are national governments, to citizens in democratic societies.