Rosa Brooks

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Rosa Brooks
Brooks Rosa OSD.jpg
Born New York
Education A.B. Harvard, M.St. Oxford, J.D. Yale
Occupation Policy Advisor, Journalist, author, law professor
Notable credit(s) Law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center; Counselor to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; weekly columnist for Foreign Policy, Op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times; author of Can Might Make Rights?, among other works; fellow at the New America Foundation.
Spouse(s) Joseph Mouer
Children Two

Rosa Brooks is a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, a columnist and contributing editor for Foreign Policy and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. From April 2009 to July 2011, she served as Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, and in May 2010 she also became[1] Special Coordinator for Rule of Law and Humanitarian Policy, running a new Pentagon office dedicated to those issues. Brooks wrote a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times from 2005 to 2009, and is an expert on national security, international law and human rights issues. At the Pentagon her portfolio included both rule of law and human rights issues and global engagement, strategic communication, and she received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service for her work.


In 1991 Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, where she studied history and literature.[2] While an undergraduate at Harvard, Brooks served as president of the Phillips Brooks House Association, Harvard's undergraduate public service organization. At Oxford University (Christ Church) she was awarded a Master of Studies degree in social anthropology in 1993[2] and was a Marshall Scholar. In 1996 she completed her studies at Yale Law School, which conferred upon her the title of Juris Doctor.[2][3]

Legal career[edit]

Brooks' work history has included previous government service as a senior adviser to Assistant Secretary Harold Hongju Koh at the U.S. Department of State, five years as an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, and a year as Special Counsel to the President at the Open Society Institute, George Soros' philanthropic foundation. She is the former director of Yale Law School's human rights program, and she has taught at both Yale and at Harvard. She has also been a consultant for Human Rights Watch, a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard, a board member of Amnesty International USA, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.

In 2004 she served as a foreign policy advisor to the Kerry-Edwards campaign, and she was a supporter of Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. She has been a board member of the Harper's Magazine Foundation, the Open Society Foundation's US Programs, the National Security Network and Amnesty International USA, a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Fragile States, and a member of the steering committee of the White Oak Foreign Policy Leaders Project. She has traveled and worked around the world, including in Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Indonesia, China, Sierra Leone, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, and Russia.


Brooks' scholarly work has focused on national security, terrorism and rule of law issues, international law, human rights, law of war, and failed states. Along with Jane Stromseth and David Wippman, Brooks coauthored Can Might Make Rights? Building the Rule of Law After Military Interventions[4] (2006), a book which helped shape the United States Army's praxis of rule of law. Brooks is also the author of numerous scholarly articles published in law reviews.[5][6][7]

Political commentary[edit]

Rosa Brooks speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum 2013

As a popular and influential columnist in addition to a scholar, her byline has appeared in publications all over the world, ranging from Harper's Magazine to the Washington Post. From 2005 to 2009, she wrote a weekly op-ed column for the Los Angeles Times. Her writings focused on foreign policy, human rights, and national security issues, and occasionally spanned other topics, including economics and culture[8][9] and even a humorous take on parenting.[10] (Brooks has two young children). Brooks retired the column upon her appointment to the United States Department of Defense. After leaving the Defense Department, in 2012 Brooks began to write a weekly column for Foreign Policy.

Brooks currently contributes to Foreign Policy's weekly podcast, "The E.R." She has been a frequent guest and panelist on MSNBC and CNN, a commentator on [1], and a blogger for Slate Magazine's XX Factor. She has also appeared several times on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor.[11] In May 2007 she wrote a lighhearted column poking fun at O'Reilly's bluster.[12] O'Reilly has periodically criticized her, particularly when she was appointed to an influential position at the Pentagon.[13]

When Brooks was appointed by Barack Obama to a Pentagon advisory position in April 2009, conservatives criticized her appoitnment. Conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity labelled her one of the "Top Ten Most Dangerous Obama Czars,"[14][15] while the Washington Times wrote an editorial denouncing her appointment.[16] Her Pentagon and military colleagues came to her defense.[17]

Personal life[edit]

The daughter of best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and author and psychologist John Ehrenreich, Brooks has two children. She is married to Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mouer, an Army Special Forces officer.


Other notable publications[edit]

  • Failed States, or the State as Failure?, 72 U. Chicago L. Rev. 1159 (2005)[18]
  • War Everywhere: Rights, National Security Law, and the Law of Armed Conflict in the Age of Terror, 153 U. Pennsylvania L. Rev. 675 (2004).[7]
  • The New Imperialism: Violence, Norms & Rule of Law, 101 Mich. L. Rev. 2275 (2003).[19]
  • Law in the Heart of Darkness: Atrocity & Duress, 43 Virginia Journal of International Law 861 (2003).[20]


External links[edit]