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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush's Brezhnev Doctrine

The Iraqi problem is out of the hands of the diplomats, as generals, servicemen and women take over the show. Considering the total mess the diplomats have made, any change may be for the better.

Russia and France, supported by China and Germany, deadlocked the UN Security Council by threatening to veto any ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. This may have postponed by a week or two the U.S.-led occupation and regime change in Iraq, but it will not save Hussein or his one-party totalitarian state.

All that Russia and France really accomplished was to seriously undermine the authority of the UN and cripple existing international law.

As the United States this week finally and firmly assumed its role as undisputed world hegemon, the old world order created in 1945 began to fold. It was France and Russia that gave the existing system the kiss of death by exposing its emptiness and fundamental immorality.

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During the Cold War, the international order was based on a balance of power between East and West that was reflected in the UN Security Council -- where each side had the capacity to block the other. The second pillar of post-World War II international law was the recognition of absolute state sovereignty and the imposition of strict restrictions on the use of military force.

Lawfully, a state was allowed to use force only to defend against external aggression. A totalitarian or tyrannical regime was allowed to do terrible things to its subjects as long as it did not get involved in aggression beyond its borders.

Of course, during the Cold War there were many local wars in which East or West bypassed the official rules to subvert enemy client states. Some nasty regimes were forcibly replaced by others that were often even less humane, although ideologically different. But the balance between East and West, reflected in the Security Council, together with the principle of absolute sovereignty, helped keep an array of bloody dictatorships in power for decades.

The recent fracas in the Security Council over Iraq was mostly about the limits of sovereignty. France, Russia, Germany and China fully agreed that Iraq should get rid of its weapons of mass destruction but argued that this goal could be accomplished by international inspections. At the same time, it was stressed that any attempt to change the regime was illegal and unacceptable.

After the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Brezhnev doctrine of limited sovereignty was formulated proclaiming the right of the Soviet Union to invade satellite states in order to support pro-Moscow "socialist" regimes. Now a new Bush-Brezhnev doctrine of limited sovereignty may become the basis of international law. The United States now claims a sovereign right to invade any other country to change a nasty regime, if the president and Congress agree to it. The UN, France, Russia and other "veto holders" can go and get stuffed if they do not like this new emerging world order.

On Monday, after Bush handed Hussein a 48-hour ultimatum, oil prices went down and stocks went up in apparent anticipation of a coming world economic recovery after a successful occupation of Iraq. It's clear that if the wrangling in the UN and the arms inspections had continued, markets would have stayed depressed. It would seem that global market forces have acknowledged the assumption by the United States of undisputed world leadership and accepted with enthusiasm the new hegemon.

In Moscow, the United States' bypassing of the UN created some panic. Many in the Russian elite are saying: After the United States goes to Baghdad, then kicks Iran and North Korea into submission, then strangles the Belarussian dictatorship, maybe it will decide to forcibly correct Russia's behavior.

This week, to signal its disapproval of U.S. actions, the State Duma decided under instructions from the Kremlin and Foreign Ministry to postpone the ratification of the Moscow Treaty limiting strategic nuclear weapons that was signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin last May.

Putin begged Bush to sign this "legally binding" agreement, while many in Washington argued no treaty was needed. Not many in Washington will cry if the treaty is never ratified.

The move to stop a ratification that Moscow needs more than Washington reflects the confusion of our elite as we see the old world order, in which we were an important player, collapse as a result of our own -- together with France's -- diplomatic insanity.

Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst.