Legal Regulation of the Use of Force
Rein Müllerson and David J. Scheffer
The long ideological struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States defined much of each nation"s view of the legality of threatening or using military force in international relations. Whether for the ideal of global socialism or for the defense of democracy, the use of force by the superpowers was a contest of competing ideologies that found aid and comfort in a multitude of interpretations of international law. Prohibitions on aggression and rules on self-defense became so elastic in the legal and political rationales offered by Washington and Moscow that international law was readily employed by either government to condemn or to justify the use of force by or against its ideological foe in overt and covert military campaigns.
The end of the Cold War has already had a profound impact on these Soviet and American readings of international law on the use of armed force. Scholarly opinion in both countries began to converge. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the subsequent collaboration of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to implement the enforcement provisions of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, and the break-up of the Soviet Union into 15 independent states signaled the beginning of a new era that may prove decisive in how armed force is regulated by the rule of law.
The Soviet government's approach to international law and to the principle of nonuse or threat of force varied considerably between the