By ruling that U.S. agents may kidnap suspected criminals abroad and return them for trial in the United States, the Supreme Court this week declared open season on terrorists and drug lords.

Unfortunately, the court also in effect declared open season on American citizens who may get into trouble with foreign governments for whatever reason.The 6-3 ruling in a case involving a Mexican doctor taken in the 1985 torture-murder of a U.S. narcotics agent amounts to a license for the United States to ignore extradition treaties and violate international law. What folly!

This amounts to telling the 103 nations with which the U.S. has extradition treaties that those pacts are worthless. Already, Mexico has responded to the ruling by threatening to end its cooperation with Washington in the war against drugs and moving to change its extradition treaty with the U.S. Other nations can be expected to follow suit.

Worse yet, other nations can be expected to follow Washington's example, sending their agents into the United States to kidnap Americans for trial abroad. What an appalling prospect!

In effect, the Supreme Court has scrapped a fundamental principle of law - the principle that nations should rely on diplomacy and treaties, not force, to settle disputes. The United States will rue the day it abandoned this high road in favor of the low road.