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.
At the beginning of the last century, President Theodore Roosevelt launched the United States onto the world stage with the call to "speak softly and carry a big stick." President George W. Bush perhaps forgot the part about speaking softly. President Barack Obama appears to have misplaced the stick.
In the final few weeks of the negotiations in Vienna, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei surprised all parties by announcing that there will be no cutbacks in the regime's nuclear enrichment program. Notwithstanding the supreme leader's letting the cat out of the bag, on the eve of the deadline of nuclear talks in Vienna, as if on cue, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced publicly in a New York Times interview a proposal that is designed to give the impression that sufficient progress is being made to warrant an extension of the negotiations. Extending the talks is highly desirable to both the Obama administration and the Tehran regime, but for very different reasons.
If the tragic downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane that was flying over contested territory along the Ukraine-Russia border was caused by missile fire -- and not by mechanical failure or some other cause unrelated to the Ukrainian conflict -- it is a game changer.