Pep Talks in Berlin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave NATO a bit of a pep talk today at a meeting in Berlin. As members try to keep the alliance together in the face of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s determination to stay in power, Clinton said: “As our mission continues, maintaining our resolve and unity only grows more important.” Rebels have criticized NATO for insufficient air strikes. Britain and France have also both called on the alliance to lend more jets to the effort. Meanwhile, the allies are putting on a good public face, falling back on the common-enemy line. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after sitting down with Secretary Clinton, said that ousting Qaddafi is “the goal that unites us.”

The IMF and World Bank semiannual meetings are this week, on Friday and Saturday, in Washington. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be there, along with finance ministers and central bankers from across the globe. The G7 is having a sitdown today, and some of the world’s current crises will be on the top of the agenda, including the economic repercussions of Japan’s recent earthquake and of the revolts spreading across the Arab world. High oil prices are also a cause for concern. The G20 will meet over dinner this evening and have a long session tomorrow.

Geithner has dedicated a lot of time this week to the issue of the debt ceiling. Namely, that we will hit it in May. Yesterday though the treasury secretary said that “Congress will pass an increase in the debt limit.”

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was in Saudia Arabia and the UAE this week, and his talks are being heralded as “positive and productive.” Exactly what that means is left open to conjecture. In a statement, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor did say that Yemen and the “importance of the US-Saudi partnership” were both subjects of discussion.