29 Harv. Int'l. L. J. 85 (1988)
Reagan's Law and Foreign Policy, 1981-1987: The Reagan Corollary of International Law

handle is hein.journals/hilj29 and id is 95 raw text is: VOLUME 29, NUMBER I, WINTER 1988

Reagan's Law and Foreign Policy, 1981-
1987: The Reagan Corollary of
International Law
Stuart S. Malawer*
The unilateralism of the Reagan Administration's foreign policy has
influenced its treatment of international law. Just as it has rejected
international cooperation in many instances in favor of unilateral pur-
suit of perceived national interests,' the Reagan Administration has
also attempted to mold international law to accommodate those in-
terests.2 I would call this challenge to the international legal system
the Reagan Corollary of international law.
The Reagan Corollary is not merely a careless disregard for inter-
national law. On the contrary, it is an attempt to pressure the inter-
national legal system into changing in a manner beneficial to United
States interests. In order to realize such change, the Reagan Admin-
istration has proffered new rules of international law, relied on previous
* Professor of Law, George Mason University, J.D., Ph.D., Dipl.
1. See Fitzgerald, The American Millenium, in ESTRANGEMENT: AMERICA AND THE WORLD
264, 275-76 (S. Ungar ed. 1985); Hamilton, Power Without Purpose, 65 FOREIGN POL'Y 29,
30 (Winter 1986187). See generally Greenwald, Foreign Policy Under Reagan Il, 63 FOREIGN AFF.
219 (1984) (discussing Reagan's second term); America and the World 1984, 63 FOREIGN AsF.
441 (1985) (discussing Reagan's first term).
This policy appears to be within the Morgenthau-Kennan school of foreign policy realism.
See generally Kennan, Morality and Foreign Affairs, 64 FOREIGN AFF. 205, 205-06 (1985).
2. Many have criticized the Reagan Administration's approach to foreign relations and
international law. See, e.g., D. MOYNIHAN, LOYALTIES 66-67, 93-96 (1984); A. SCHLESINGER,
THE CYCLES OF AMERICAN HISTORY 83-85 (1986); Henkin, International Law and National
Interest, 25 COLUM. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 1, 2-3 (1986); Moynihan, Remarks of Daniel Patrick
Moynihan, in RESTORING BIPARTISANSHIP IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS 31, 34-39 (S. Soper ed. 1985);
Tolchin, As Laws are Flouted, Congress Seethes, N.Y. Times, Nov. 13, 1985, at A24, col. 3;
Oakes, Reagan's Brezhnev Doctrine, N.Y. Times, May 20, 1985, at A19, col. 1. For a discussion
of domestic illegality, see Henkin, Foreign Affairs and the Constitution, 66 FOREIGN AFF. 284
However, few legal scholars have written on the effect of the Reagan Administration's foreign
policy on international law. The scholarly debate has instead focused on the impact of interna-
tional law on U.S. foreign policy. See, e.g., Comment, Does the U.S. Government Think That
International Law Is Important? 11 YALE J. INT'L L. 479, 488 (1986); Hamilton, supra note 1,
at 30; Matheson, The Role of the Reagan Administration, 9 GEORGE MASON U.L. REv. 21 (1986).

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