Neoliberalism, Colonialism, and International Governance: Decentering the International Law of Government Legitimacy

Brad R. Roth’s Governmental Illegitimacy in International Law is a neoconservative realist response to liberal internationalists (or universalists). As a critique, the book unsurprisingly legitimizes the subject of its attack: liberal internationalism. That is so since in their opposition to each other, liberal internationalists and neoconservative realists fall within the same discursive formation – a Euro-American hegemony of thinking, writing, critiquing, engaging, producing, and practicing international law. This Review is an antihegemonic critique. It seeks to decenter this Euro-American opposition between liberal internationalism and neoconservative realism that has characterized the study of international law, especially in the post-Cold War period. This Review aims to demonstrate the limitations of the commitments of liberal internationalism (to a universal culture of liberal democracy and free markets), on the one hand, and of neoconservatism (to maintain the integrity of sovereign states that have effective control of their populations by restricting intervention in their internal affairs), on the other hand, as the only alternatives to understanding and producing knowledge about legitimacy in international law.