Episode 12: On the Precipice: A Possible U.S. War with Iran

Tensions between Iran and the US have reached a critical level, culminating in senior-level discourse during last week’s UN General Assembly meetings in which the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other countries focused on allegations that Iran was responsible for a military drone strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields. This is just the latest event in a quickly evolving military situation, with the Trump administration pulling the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and reinstating sanctions on Iran, and includes the US downing an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. In this episode, Catherine Amirfar sits down with Brian Egan, a partner at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson, a former senior legal official at the White House and the National Security Counsel, and the Legal Adviser at the Department of State in the Obama Administration. Brian discusses the historic moment of the tension between the two countries, as well as the international legal backdrop to the risk of a U.S. military confrontation with Iran. This backdrop includes in what potential circumstances the Trump administration could deploy military force as a matter of international law and what legal and political implications follow if the US does so.

About the Podcast

The Society's podcast International Law Behind the Headlines, hosted by Catherine Amirfar and Kal Raustiala, tackles, through interviews with today's top legal experts, the international legal issues dominating today's headlines. All episodes are available via iTunes, SoundCloud, and here.

Catherine Amirfar is a litigation partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Co-Chair of the firm's Public International Law Group and a member of the Management Committee. Her practice focuses on international commercial and treaty arbitration, international and complex commercial litigation, and public international law. Prior to rejoining Debevoise in 2016, Ms. Amirfar spent two years as the Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State and received the State Department's Superior Honor Award in recognition of her contributions to the Department. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Law Institute, and the U.S. State Department Advisory Council on International Law (ACIL). In 2020 Ms. Amirfar was elected President of the Society, having previously served as Vice President from 2016 to 2018.

Kal Raustiala is professor at UCLA School of Law and the UCLA International Institute. Since 2007 he has served as director of the UCLA Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations, and from 2012-2015 as UCLA's Associate Vice Provost for International Studies. A graduate of Duke University, Professor Raustiala holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Chicago, Columbia, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, National University of Singapore, and Princeton. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former member of the editorial board of the American Journal of International Law, from 2016-2018 he served as Vice President of the American Society of International Law.