Bieber and Petraeus, Together at Last

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Pakistan making a few waves. One recent bone of contention between the US and Pakistan has been the use of CIA drones to attack targets inside of Pakistan. Islamabad has been trying get both Agency personnel and drones out of the country, but Mullen said the strikes aren’t going anywhere. Mullen also pointed to a “longstanding relationship” between Pakistan’s intelligence service and the Haqqani network, a troublesome insurgent group operating in the region. Islamabad would have none of it, with the head of the country’s military, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, rejecting Washington’s “negative propaganda.” He also added that Islamabad does indeed have a relationship with the Haqqani network, and it’s “that of an adversary.” Mullen’s trip to ease tensions with Pakistan is certainly off to an interesting start.

TIME Magazine’s list of the hundred most influential people in the world is out, and the commander of forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is on it (along with Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler, Justin Bieber and Anwar al-Awlaki to name a few). Defense Secretary Robert Gates penned a glowing review of the general in the magazine: “He is the premier soldier-scholar of his time, an officer who has twice altered the course of military history for the better and an American patriot worthy of our deepest gratitude and respect.”

As protests continue to rage across the Middle East, the situation in Syria is getting more and more tenuous, with activists there reporting that government forces have killed a number of demonstrators. Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against Damascus’s actions: “The Syrian government must allow free movement and free access, it must stop the arbitrary arrest, detentions and torture of prisoners.” Sounding a by-this-time-familiar note, Clinton called on Syria to make “substantial and lasting reform” and “begin a serious political process.”

Yemen is also reeling, and an effort in the UN Security Council to do something about it has been stymied. Protesters have been calling for Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down and the hope was that a Security Council meeting on Tuesday would provide the necessary pressure. There was an attempt to pass a resolution on the ongoing violence on Tuesday, which Russia and China blocked. On Twitter, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was vague: “Yesterday, Security Council discussed Yemen. Political process needs to result in a swift and credible transition – not violence.”

And the day has finally arrived. The new Homeland Security warning system is here. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the announcement yesterday, citing an evolving terrorist threat and scrapping the old color-coded system. The new alerts will warn of either “elevated” or “imminent” threats and will give more information about the potential attack.