Don't Forget the Mustard Gas

Libya’s store of chemical weapons is on the minds of some on the ground in the country as well as the U.S. administration. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said Tripoli possesses mustard gas in a “significant quantity” and that Washington has been keeping tabs on the situation for a few weeks now. On unnamed humanitarian relief agency operating on the ground in Libya purchased a supply of Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion, a treatment for chemical-warfare agents.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell boiled the decision to take military action in Libya down to boys vs. girls. Lauding the intervention, Senator Lindsey Graham said “Thank God for strong women in the Obama administration.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, arguing for the intervention, went up against strong voices against it, like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

Libya isn't the only concern at the moment. In Russia today, Gates said that he's worried about growing instability in Yemen, home of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Protesters there continue to call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. Though Gates commented that it isn’t his place to talk about whether or not Washington supports Saleh, “Instability and diversion of attention from dealing with AQAP is [his] primary concern about the situation." 

General David Petraeus, the commander of forces in Afghanistan, got some direction today from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “The people of Afghanistan don't want that foreigners take responsibility for security any more,” Karzai commented, outlining seven parts of the country that Afghan security forces will take control of in July.

Elsewhere, the days continue to tick by (albeit 1.8 microseconds faster than before the Japan quake). President Obama and First Lady Michelle were in Chile yesterday and will be in El Salvador today. The president offered praise for Chile’s democratic strength and economic growth.