How many game changers will it take to change the game? That was my reaction to the news that the Putin-backed rebels have apparently shot down more planes, this time two Ukrainian fighter jets.
President Obama's call for an immediate cease-fire in the latest conflict between Hamas and Israel was as noteworthy for what he said as for what he did not say. Obama made it clear that he understood that Israel needed to defend itself against rocket attacks, and that it could not tolerate Hamas building tunnels into the Jewish state in order to kidnap soldiers and civilians. But he said nothing about the need to bring an end to the rocket attacks and kidnap attempts once and for all. He said nothing about getting Hamas to accept prior agreements that the Palestinians had reached with Israel. Or that Hamas come to terms with the existence of the Jewish state. Or that Hamas cease its incitement to kill all Jews, anywhere, which has inspired the spate of attacks on European Jews, most notably the pogrom-like riots targeting a Paris synagogue. Nor, for that matter, did Mr. Obama say a word about the FAA's restrictions on flights to Israel.
When the headlines are talking about the fate of a $400 billion-plus plane with technical difficulties, it might seem quaint to talk about a teensy-weensy defense budget cut of parochial interest to researchers, but I can not think of a better illustration of penny-wise, pound-foolish thinking, so bear with me. At issue is the news release that proposed budget cuts will close the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC) at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University (NDU).
The United States and five other major powers negotiating about the Iranian nuclear program agreed to a four-month extension of the talks until Nov. 24. This period is a time of peril for opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who have been of great value in revealing intelligence about its nuclear cheating. It's possible that Tehran may use its negotiating leverage in this phase to attack its dissidents in Iraq, including the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main resistance group that rejects clerical rule, and its largest unit, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
American disengagement in the world is not consequence free. The new BRICS bank announced in Fortaleza by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is largely a political exercise, which has been given a big boost by American indecision on IMF quota reform. U.S. detachment and inaction have given the BRICS the political cover to start something that would likely die with a whimper if Congress could muster the political will to pass IMF quota reform. The United States suffers from a lack of presidential leadership in the Bretton Woods arena; as we withdraw others fill the vacuum, and we cannot choose our replacements. American leadership always starts at the Presidential level, but Republicans share blame for the rise of the BRICS bank based on their inability to get IMF quota reform done in Congress.