Episode 4: How Does International Law Get Incorporated into Presidential Decision-Making? with Tess Bridgeman

Drawing from her experiences serving at the White House and the State Department during the Obama Administration, Tess Bridgeman discusses how international law is incorporated into U.S. policy and decision-making at the highest levels, what we are seeing now under the Trump Administration, and what we can expect for the future.

For one example, in an abrupt shift in policy, President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria in a video posted on Twitter, prompting confusion and public disagreement from allies, as well as President Trump’s own advisers. What do the latest national security and foreign policy decisions of Trump Administration, including President Trump’s decision on Syria and the most recent round of U.S. treaty withdrawals, tell us about the current state of U.S. national security and foreign policy-making processes?

Guest: Tess Bridgeman, former Special Assistant and Associate Counsel to the President, Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council, Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State.

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.