China Gets Serious

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he is certain China wants more actively help reel in North Korea. In Mullen’s words, “There really is a commitment, from my perspective, on the part of the leaders to contain this thing and to get to a point where serious deterrents, both actions and options, are there.” Mullen is in Brussels right now for a meeting of NATO’s military top brass, and he called China “the only country that I have seen influence North Korea.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is up north for a meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Peter MacKay. Mexico’s secretary of national defense was supposed to be there as well, but had to cancel due to illness. (The three also planned to meet last July, but that meeting was canceled by because of violence in Mexico.) Topics on the agenda include the war in Afghanistan and Canada’s planned purchase of some F-35 fighter jets.

No more orange threats or yellow alerts. The Homeland Security Advisory System is no more. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to make the announcement today. But never fear—the alert infrastructure will be replaced with a new one, the National Terror Advisory System. This system is supposed to be a more targeted setup than the blanket color codes currently used.

Next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head to Munich to take part in a Quartet meeting on Middle East peace. After speaking with Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, Clinton told the press that despite some serious roadblocks in negotiations, for both Jordan and the United States, “permanent peace in the Middle East remains our number one priority.”

And Clinton continues to push for Internet freedom abroad. Amid ongoing protests in Egypt, she called on Cairo to unblock social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and to let people use those sites to organize peaceful protests. Internet freedom has been one of the secretary’s central talking points for some time now (a year ago Google and China faced off over censorship issues; Clinton lavished praise on Google for standing up for Internet freedom).

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum. On the sidelines of the meeting of finance bigwigs, Geithner will hold bilateral meetings with European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. The secretary will be in Switzerland for two days.