Fruits of the Bush Doctrine

Putin reaffirms Russia's right to preemptive strikes

President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed his position that Russia can resort to preemptive military strikes because the policy is also practiced by the United States.

“If the principle of preventive use of force continues to develop in international practice, then Russia reserves the right to act in an analogous manner to defend its national interests,” Putin said in an interview whose transcript was released Tuesday.

Mind you, this is more bluster than anything else — for now:

But later, speaking in the United States, he assured NATO countries that Moscow was not seeking to adopt a preemptive nuclear strategy.

“Russia still regards nuclear weapons as a means of political deterrence. We do not envisage a scenario or a situation where we would use such weapons first,” said Ivanov on October 9.

Nevertheless, if the Bush Doctrine is to be taken seriously, there's no way to limit its use to invasions by nations we like — or against nations we don't like.

It's probably not too late for the next administration to undo the damage to international legality; given the wide range of candidates, it's quite unclear whether the next administration will consider this a priority, or even want to.

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