Dempsey's In, Default's Out?

News broke today that Army Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey would be replacing the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen when he steps down in October. Dempsey only entered his current post atop the army last month. The official nomination is expected next Tuesday. He’s just part of the national-security shuffle going on in the administration that will see current CIA Director Leon Panetta take over for outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with the current commander of forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, stepping in for Panetta at the Agency. Phew.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been taking on just about every trouble spot in the world over the past couple days. With Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Clinton sent a letter to the G8 asking them to help fulfill one of the goals President Obama mentioned in his speech last week. The letter urged countries to overlook some of Egypt’s debts and view them as investments, not money owed. “The United States is committed to a debt swap for Egypt and we are asking our partners to join us in this initiative,” the letter said.

The secretary of state was speaking in Paris on Thursday on the sidelines of an OECD meeting, where Clinton also suggested that Washington’s choice to head the IMF might be France’s Economic Minister Christine Lagarde. She said, unofficially, that “we welcome women who are well qualified and experienced to head major organizations such as the IMF.” In the OECD meeting, Clinton took on graft. She warned attendees that “corruption and poorly functioning tax systems put a strain on our partnerships with developing countries.” It will be difficult, she said, for Washington to ask Americans to give money to corrupt regimes.

Secretary Clinton has also joined in the efforts to try to mend the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. She said that it’s in Washington’s “national security interests to have a comprehensive long-term security partnership” with Islamabad. Though the two countries have had some at times heated disagreements about how to fight insurgents, she stressed that Pakistan has been actively fighting with extremists, and hasn’t “been on the sidelines.” And Clinton urged all parties in Yemen to put an end to brutal clashes: “We call on all sides, on all sides, to immediately cease the violence.” The secretary of state said that it’s time for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down as he has promised to do.

Back at home, Secretary Geithner called the Republican opposition to raising the debt ceiling “political theater.” “On the basis of what I’ve seen in these negotiations, I think you’re seeing a fair amount of pragmatism, openness, recognition that that’s the right thing to do,” Geithner commented, confident that “the United States will never default.” GOP opposition is expected to vote down a debt-ceiling raise next week, but the treasury secretary said ultimately that plan of attack won’t pan out: “It’s not a credible negotiating strategy, and it is not going to happen.”