Pride and Pledges

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept her visit to Libya yesterday short and sweet. In remarks with Mahmoud Jibril, the Transitional National Council’s prime minister, Clinton said that she was “proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.” She praised Libyans for progress already made and pledged to provide even more assistance: “I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons. And the Administration, working with Congress, is going to provide $40 million to support this effort.” And Clinton laid out plans for economic cooperation and civil-society exchanges between the U.S. and Libya.

Then she headed to Oman to talk about Iran and the Arab Spring/Summer/Fall. She thanked Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said for helping to secure the release of American hikers held in Iran—Oman is a U.S. ally but maintains relatively good relations with Tehran. Clinton is also planning to talk to the sultan about the recently foiled Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States and about the protests in Yemen and Syria.

Back at home, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the Senate Small Business Committee that the supercommittee tasked with finding a way to reduce the deficit won’t have enough time to rewrite the tax code, even though it may be in need of reform. Geithner suggested that Congress should instead look to President Obama’s jobs plan and it’s tax-related sections. “This is a bridge to fundamental tax reform, not a substitute,” the treasury secretary explained. But, he went on, tax reform alone is not enough to get the economy really growing.

Secretary Clinton and President Obama were both happy about the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years. Clinton commented, “We are pleased that a long ordeal… has ended for Gilad Shalit.” White House spokesman Jay Carney also mentioned the broader peace process, saying that Washington is glad to see “each side taking steps that make it easier to return to negotiations instead of harder.”