Geithner Does Damage Control

In the face of S&P’s gloomy outlook for the United States’s AAA credit rating (based on the rating agency’s doubts that Washington will actually be able to get its act together and reduce the deficit within the next two years), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is trying to keep positive. He said flatly that there is “no risk” that Washington would lose its rating. As Geithner explained, lawmakers and the president have begun to find some sort of common ground on the need to make reforms, noting, “I think things are better than they've been if you want to think about the prospects for improving our long-term fiscal position.” Geithner did damage control on television this morning, appearing on Fox, CNBC and Bloomberg.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will head to Pakistan this week to continue administration attempts to ease tensions with Islamabad in the wake of CIA contractor Raymond Davis’s broad-daylight shooting of two Pakistani civilians. Mullen is, very vaguely, set to have “discussions with leadership” in Pakistan, according to an official. Islamabad has also gone after the United States recently for its use of drones and has called on Washington to reduce its CIA presence in Pakistan. Speaker of the House John Boehner and a congressional delegation were in Islamabad yesterday.

Meanwhile, in next-door-neighbor Afghanistan, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry warned of a potential uptick in suicide attacks and assassinations over the coming months. He explained that Taliban forces have realized they cannot win on the battlefield and that “they have shifted and they have begun now a very focused terrorist campaign.”

And the former commander of forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, was recently cleared of any violations of U.S. military policy. McChrystal resigned last summer after a Rolling Stone article portrayed the general as less-than-respectful of authority. He reportedly gave the finger to another military officer and spoke disparagingly about President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, among other incidents. The Pentagon’s special investigation into the matter, however, found that “not all of the events at issue occurred as reported in the article.” The Rolling Stone stood by the article in a statement released yesterday.