My thanks to the Senior Conspirator for the invitation to join the Merry Band - I have long been a fan and admirer of the Volokh Conspiracy and I am honored to take part.
Some of the band I have known - Eric Posner, Ilya Somin, several others, but I was delighted to meet Eugene and Orin for the first time at a lunch in DC two weeks ago. I'm sure many of you have had the pleasure of meeting someone in person for the first time whose work you have enjoyed on a blog, and are pleased to discover that they are as charming in person as on the screen. I look forward to meeting the other Conspirators in real life, as too many VC's readers. It is a genuine honor to join this group.
As Eugene said in his introduction, I also post over at the international law professor blog Opinio Juris, and I will continue to do so. But my interests run more broadly than international law - my day job is international business and finance professor, and in my pro bono and other work I do nonprofit law, international philanthropy, and development finance. So VC, being so broad church in its interests, is a great place for me. I also blog on quite specialized academic topics related to warfare, terrorism, and such things from a theoretical, political science, social science perspective at the Complex Terrain Lab (CTLab), but that is on quite specialized things.
I won't ordinarily be so biographical, but perhaps a little bit about me in an inaugural post might be helpful.
I grew up in Claremont, California, the second of seven kids of a Canadian father who, with my Utah mother, decided not to spend more winters in the Lethbridge, Alberta snow. He was a chemist who spent his career teaching at Cal Poly Pomona; Claremont was the college town then it is today, and as an unsophisticated child of Sarah Palin-type intermountain west parentage (betcha and howdy have spontaneously passed my lips), it wasn't until I went from undergraduate days at UCLA to Harvard Law School that I figured out that all those professor fathers wandering around Claremont in tweed jackets in 100 degree heat were displaced New Englanders mistaking the place for Amherst.
Although a many decades drop out, I did a Mormon mission in Peru in the 1970s; I occasionally write about Mormons but not too much. I was pretty late getting to college, started at age 24 at UCLA, after spending a few years in blue collar work - I was a Teamster working for Roadway Express the last couple of years before UCLA. I studied philosophy, Wittgenstein with Rogers Albritton, ethics with Philippa Foot, jurisprudence with Herbert Morris, and political violence with David Rapoport.
I spent a couple of years at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York doing tax work, but also doing very extensive work for Human Rights Watch, and later went to work for HRW as the director of the arms division, among other things the landmines ban campaign. From there I returned to tax work, this time on the nonprofit side, as general counsel to George Soros's charities - he once introduced me to a large group as "this is Ken Anderson, our new counsel - he advises me on catastrophic risks of extremely low likelihood." As a description of lawyering, it is so apt that I have never let his sometime old-fashioned European social democratic tendencies distress me.
From the Open Society Institute, I went to American University. In addition to my appointment there, in DC, I am also a fellow with the Hoover Institution and a member of its task force on national security and law.
I have several extensive pro bono commitments, mostly in the international development area. I chair the boards of two organizations. The Media Development Loan Fund, which is a nonprofit private equity fund that provides financing to independent, news-providing, reasonably objective newspapers, radios, TV, and internet services in the developing world; in that capacity I have an active life in both nonprofit governance and tax issues, as well as financing, lending especially, and media economics. Having done that for now fifteen years, and having watched the organization grow from a portfolio of zero to somewhere around $50 million today, I plan to leave that very demanding pro bono position in order to focus on writing ... and blogging. The other is the Rift Valley Institute US branch, which engages in educational and charitable and research activities in Sudan and other places of the Rift Valley.
In general, I am pulling back from the nearly second-career as an international nonprofit and development person/academic in order to focus on my writing, scholarly and otherwise. I am completing a book on US-UN relations, and you can check out my scholarly articles at SSRN. I have an active life writing book reviews for the Times Literary Supplement in London, and I serve as the political sciences editor for the Madrid Revista de Libros. I have off and on maintained my own personal blog, but I will probably let that sit fairly inactive, although I will leave it up with its posts on things like the laws of war, international law, and other things.
My favorite writers are Stendhal - should I revive Sundays with Stendhal? - Albert Camus, Blaise Cendrars, Rene Char, or anyway particular works from these guys. Also the great re-telling of the Arthur cycle, Arthur Rex, by Thomas Berger (none of whose other works, curiously, can I stand for five minutes). I have always been a fan of Heinlein, reflective of my moderately libertarian streak - I would describe myself as a non-dogmatic libertarian-mildly-conservative - this is what attracted me to the human rights field, but alas I find that while I don't seem to have moved very much except on the surface, it has gradually moved to a position not so much of "liberal internationalism" as ... "multicultural internationalism."
I am a bad amateur cellist, whose talents don't go much beyond oompah continuo parts in simple Baroque music. But I love early Baroque string chamber music, including viol da gamba and violin trio Baroque music.
I am married seventeen years, to my Beloved Wife Jean-Marie, quite deliberately introduced (set up even) by the great Aryeh Neier, former head of the ACLU, HRW, and now president of the Open Society Institute; and we have a sixteen year old daughter, who is a proud junior member of the NRA even though she has only shot a couple of times in her life (bleg on this to follow), and one of two members of the Republican Club at Sidwell in DC. I noted that she wore to her history final exam today a JAG Corps t-shirt I picked up for her at a conference at the JAG school last week.
At the moment, I am completing the UN-US relations short, short, short book I mentioned, and am working on a TLS review essay, for a larger project, on what I have been calling 'The Moral Psychology of Finance'. I am also working on two other pet projects currently getting worked up in book proposal form - proportionality in the law and ethics of war, and something I plan to call, Ethics for Robot Soldiers.
I realize this falls into the category of what my students call "too much information." But I thought it might be useful if I gave you a sense of me as I launch into what an exciting new activity for me. (It might also take a little while for me to figure out the formatting on VC; please be patient.)