draft for NSNC The Columnist

We are living in extraordinary times, as those with a sense of history can appreciate, while most people don’t. Just as in WW II and in 1945, it is up to us to shape the world in a way that carries the achievements of our civilization forward.


Jim Rowles continues to write about foreign affairs in his blog, The Trenchant Observer: International Law, Politics, and Security, which he began in 2009 to give vent to his outrage over torture, and in his Substack newsletter, Trenchant Observations, which he began in May 2022.

A writer and semi-retired international lawyer, he applies his expertise in international law and his knowledge of history in articles which seek to connect the dots and render complicated subjects intelligible to non-specialists.

Of course, this is an uphill struggle, as few people today seem to be interested in international affairs beyond catching the latest “breaking news” headlines. Jim reads leading English, French, German, and Spanish newspapers daily, in addition to the New York Times and the Washington Post, and brings a truly international and he would say unbiased perspective to bear in his columns.

He has one suggestion for the NSNC column competition: Add a category for international affairs. This is obviously self-serving, he admits, but believes it is urgently needed nonetheless.

Why should we care about international affairs and war in far-off places like Ukraine?

He cites a quote often misattributed to Leon Trotsky but actually by an American politicakpl scientist: “You may not care about war, but war cares about you.”

Jim is trenchand and at times even caustic in his columns, calling it as he sees it, regardless of the political party of the targets of his criticism.

Occasionally he resorts to satire, when the grim details of tge daily news suggest a need for humor.

Jim writes from the greater San Francisco Bay Area, from an independent point of view.

To learn more about what motivates hin to write about tge world, see

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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