What you learn in American government 101 still rings true: we live in a system of three co-equal branches. The Bush Administration, for perhaps the first time in six years, got the message today.

Justice John Paul Stevens 5-3 decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was blunt and stinging: the Bush Administration must get approval from Congress to hold prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and treat those detainees in accordance with Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

Republicans such as Majority Leader John Boehner denounced the ruling as “special privileges for terrorists.” But the Pentagon took notice, releasing a memo today announcing that it would follow Article 3–specifying that prisoners be treated humanely and afforded basic judicial protections. An Administration that gleefully snickered at international law finally decided to comply with it.

What else might the Administration U-turn on? Secret prisons, extraordinary renditions, warrantless wiretapping, permanent bases in Iraq?

The latest issue of Time magazine proclaims “The End of Cowboy Diplomacy.” North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan put an end to the unilateralist Bush doctrine. Too bad France didn’t win the World Cup.