Yesterday, White House spokesman Jay Carney tried to shut down calls for Washington to send arms to Libyan rebels. He said Washington was considering the move, but, putting it bluntly, “It would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a PO Box in eastern Libya, we need to not get ahead of ourselves.” And, as State Department spokesman PJ Crowley pointed out, it would technically be illegal at the moment because the UN Security Council has banned all shipments to Libya. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, along with Bill Richardson have called on Washington to arm the Libyan opposition.
Meanwhile, President Obama dropped in on a meeting between National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva yesterday. The three talked about the Kyrgyzstan’s transition to democracy and border-security issues. Kyrgyzstan is a key base for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, and Otunbayeva was seeking help securing her country’s border with Tajikistan.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sat down today with Alex Weber, the head of Germany’s central bank, and Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank (in separate meetings). The focus was on the stability of the European financial markets and the European bailout fund. He made the quick stop in Frankfurt before heading to Berlin to meet with the German finance minister.
In Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is wrapping up his second day of touring war zones in the country. He told reporters that after all he’s seen, he does “feel like the pieces are coming together.” The Afghan national police and the Afghan army are working more closely with international forces, according to the secretary of defense.
And as President Obama ordered military commissions to resume prosecuting alleged terrorists held in Guantanamo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration is asking the Senate to approve the Ratifying Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions, which “sets forth humane treatment and fair trial safeguards for certain persons detained by opposing forces in international armed conflict.” Clinton also noted that the guidelines are “fully consistent with current military practice.”
Last night, Secretary Clinton kicked off International Women’s Day (which is today) with a get-together at the State Department. She hosted one hundred women from 92 countries who are in the United States to begin an exchange program, the International Visitor Leadership Program. She referred to the women as “pioneers” and “ambassadors.” During a panel discussion, one of them turned the spotlight on Washington, asking whether the United States was ready for a female president. Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, said we’re “a little bit away.”