Planning for the Worst

In an interview yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that if the Washington were to participate in imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, it couldn’t be a U.S.-led effort. The decision must come from the United Nations. Plus, the uprising, she said “doesn’t come from the outside,” and Libyans must make choices for themselves. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that all options, including military ones, are still being discussed. U.S. President Barack Obama went over the situation with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and the two agreed that Qaddafi needs to leave office “as quickly as possible,” according to a White House statement. And Secretary Clinton, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, CIA Director Leon Panetta and others will meet today to discuss military options. 

After meeting with the German finance minister yesterday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sounded a positive note about the economic situation: “I think we're in a much stronger position than we were three months ago, six months ago, nine months ago to deal with the mix of challenges we face ahead.” He also said the global economy is “gradually strengthening.” Though he was a bit less chipper about Europe’s recovery prospects a couple of days ago, he seemed hopeful yesterday that Europe is on its way to much-needed reform. He commented that he was leaving his meetings in Germany “convinced” that Europe knows what has to happen and how to get it done.

General David Petraeus, the commander of forces in Afghanistan, said that he expects this summer’s fighting to be worse that the last. He’s still going to present President Obama with a few options for troop withdrawals, which are supposed to begin in July.

Secretary Clinton alongside First Lady Michelle Obama honored Kyrgyzstan’s President Roza Otunbayeva yesterday on International Women’s Day. Clinton praised Otunbayeva’s “visionary leadership and tenacity to end conflict and to keep her country intact.” The secretary of state also took a moment to announce that the administration will make women’s empowerment a priority in the Middle East as countries transition to more democratic societies.