Military Wiki
Rosa Brooks
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; 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 for Foreign Policy and a Bernard L. Schwartz 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] Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and then 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.[1] While an undergraduate at Harvard, Brooks served as president of the Phillips Brooks House Association. At Oxford University (Christ Church) she was awarded a Master of Studies degree in social anthropology in 1993[1] and was a Marshall Scholar. In 1996 she completed her studies at Yale Law School, which conferred upon her the title of Juris Doctor.[1][2]

Legal career

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 National Security Network, 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 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[3] (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.[4][5][6]

Political commentary

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[7][8] and even a humorous take on parenting.[9] (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. Her column, which is called "By Other Means" (in reference to Klauswitz's famous dictum that war is the continuation of politics by other means), focuses on the changing nature of war and the changing role of the military.

Brooks has been a frequent guest and panelist on MSNBC and CNN, a commentator on [2], and a blogger for Slate Magazine's XX Factor. She has also appeared several times on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor.[10] In May 2007 she wrote a lighhearted column poking fun at O'Reilly's bluster.[11] O'Reilly has periodically vilified and attacked her ever since, particular when she was appointed to an influential position at the Pentagon.[12]

In her work as a columnist, Brooks has been recognized by liberals for her courage and outspokenness, and her remarks have at times generated backlash from the political right. When she was appointed by Barack Obama to a Pentagon advisory position in April 2009, conservatives attacked her. Conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity labelled her one of the "Top Ten Most Dangerous Obama Czars,"[13][14] while the Washington Times wrote an editorial denouncing her appointment.[15] Her Pentagon and military colleagues came to her defense,[16] and the attacks gradually died down as she established a reputation for principled but pragmatic leadership, especially in complex areas such as information operations.

Most of the initial conservative attacks focused on her criticism of Bush administration's use of so-called torture against suspected terror detainees.[17] She was also critical of the decision to go to war in Iraq, though she has recently taken a view cautiously supporting a slow and phased withdrawal.

In 2007, she wrote that prior to 9/11, "most experts say... al-Qaida was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky. … Today, thanks to U.S. policies, Al-Qaida has become the vast global threat the administration imagined it to be in 2001. Our ham-handed detention and interrogation tactics and our ill-advised invasion of Iraq have alienated vast swathes of the Islamic world, fueling extremism and anti-Americanism. Today, Al Qaeda is no longer a single organization. Now it's a franchise, with new gangs of terrorists around the world proudly seizing the "Al Qaeda" affiliation."[18]

She has also penned a 2006 column in which she wrote that President "Bush...authorized practices that even [former Attorney General] Gonzales predicted might be seen by 'future prosecutors' as violations of the War Crimes Act," and that "it's far too late for [Bush] to leave a legacy that won't be a source of shame to future generations."[19]

She has been occasionally been a critic of some policies of the State of Israel. According to Brooks, "In the United States today, it just isn't possible to have a civil debate about Israel, because any serious criticism of its policies is instantly countered with charges of anti-Semitism."[20][21]

Brooks has also been an advocate for increased taxpayer-funds for public media (such as National Public Radio and public and community broadcasting). In April 2009 she asserted that "Years of foolish policies have left us with a choice: We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting [broadcast] licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary, or we can watch, wringing our hands, as more and more top journalists are laid off."[22]

As a supporter of sending more troops to Afghanistan and an advocate of a robust and well-funded counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategy,[23][24] and as an occasionally sharp critic of prominent Democrats (including Hillary Clinton),[25][26] Brooks has also sometimes annoyed the political left.

In December 2008, for instance, she warned "Democrats still basking in the reflected glory of Obama's win" that "Idiocy and greed aren't just for Republicans. For every Larry Craig, there's an Eliot Spitzer; for every Ted Stevens, there's a Rod Blagojevich.... [I]t's precisely when a party achieves power that its members need to start worrying the most about idiocy and greed.... [P]ower really does corrupt. But illegal corruption isn't the only thing Democrats should be on guard against.... Members of political majorities succumb easily to smugness and complacency, to the conviction that explaining and justifying ideas is no longer necessary, to the temptation to dismiss critics as so many irrelevant cranks. "Groupthink" is mainly a disease of the powerful and complacent, not the fractious opposition."[27] More recently, she has written several Foreign Policy columns critical of the Obama Administration's approach to foreign policy and national security.

On economics, Brooks is a progressive/liberal populist. She has skewered the Bush administration's alleged mishandling of the economy,[28] argued for addressing the economic crisis with New Deal-style programs,[29][30] and decried large bailouts for financial firms.[31]

Personal life

The daughter of best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and psychologist John Ehrenreich, Brooks has two children. As of 2013 she divides her time between Alexandria, Virginia and Colorado Springs, Colorado, the latter location where her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mourer, is currently a battalion commander in the U.S. Army’s Fourth Infantry Division.[32]


Other Notable Publications

  • Failed States, or the State as Failure?, 72 U. Chicago L. Rev. 1159 (2005)[33]
  • War Everywhere: Rights, National Security Law, and the Law of Armed Conflict in the Age of Terror, 153 U. Pennsylvania L. Rev. 675 (2004).[6]
  • The New Imperialism: Violence, Norms & Rule of Law, 101 Mich. L. Rev. 2275 (2003).[34]
  • Law in the Heart of Darkness: Atrocity & Duress, 43 Virginia Journal of International Law 861 (2003).[35]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Profile Rosa Brooks — Georgetown Law
  2. Rosa Brooks - About Rosa Brooks
  4. Rosa Brooks - We the People's Executive
  5. Rosa Brooks - The Politics of the Geneva Conventions
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rosa Brooks - War Everywhere
  7. Heroism and the language of fascism -
  8. We're not all victims -
  9. Resist the princesses - Los Angeles Times
  10. News Hounds: Liberal Lady Lawyer Runs Rings Around Bill O'Reilly on Subject of GITMO Detainees
  11. Sweet Jesus I love Bill O'Reilly! -
  12. President Obama, Spain and the Radical Left | Fox News
  15. EDITORIAL: A disaster for Defense - Washington Times
  16. LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No disaster at Defense - Washington Times
  17. Torture as a litmus test - Los Angeles Times
  18. A really bad case of 'reality' -
  19. Rosa Brooks: Our Torturer-in-Chief -
  20. Israel can't bomb its way to peace -
  21. On Israel, kid gloves - or else - Los Angeles Times
  22. Bail out journalism -
  23. War And Peace, The Army Way
  24. 'Finish the job' in Afghanistan? Where do we begin? -
  25. Hillary's tone-deaf campaign -
  27. Blagojevich's corruption: a warning for Democrats -
  28. Hey U.S., welcome to the Third World! -
  30. Wall Street's crybabies -
  31. We need a bailout too -
  33. Rosa Brooks - Failed States, or the States as Failures?
  34. Rosa Brooks - The New Imperialism
  35. Rosa Brooks - Law in the Heart of Darkness

External links

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