Commendations on the South China Sea

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Bali having a series of meetings on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum. She sat down with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and commended Beijing and ASEAN for coming to a new agreement on the South China Sea. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell was also pleased: “We welcome this. It’s an important first step.” But, he said, follow-up is needed—this is only the beginning.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will certify today that the military is ready to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and allow gays to serve openly, a move that will fulfill one of President Obama's campaign promises. The two are set to meet with Obama this afternoon.

As the budget debate presses onward, General Ray Odierno, the head of U.S. Joint Forces Command who has been nominated to take over as the Army’s chief of staff, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. Discussing the topic of troop cuts to help reduce the deficit, Odierno said, “We must avoid our historical pattern of drawing down too fast and getting too small.”

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the president of New York’s Federal Reserve Bank, William Dudley, are reportedly scheduled to meet today to talk about what will happen if Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit. Washington faces defaulting on its debt if lawmakers can’t come to an agreement by August 2.