Secrets and New Strategies

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley is in a bit of an argument with London’s Daily Telegraph. The paper reported last week that, according to WikiLeaks documents it obtained, Washington agreed to give Moscow sensitive information about Britain’s nuclear arsenal as part of the recently minted arms-control treaty, New START. Crowley’s response, via Time: “This is bunk. . . . There was no secret agreement and no compromise of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent.” But wait, there’s more. A Telegraph blog alleges that Crowley has his facts wrong. The spokesman’s defense was that Washington simply “carried forward and updated” a procedure included in the original START treaty. The Telegraph says that statement “has no basis in reality” and goes on to quote WikiLeaks to support the point.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in the United States for two days, stopping in Washington and New York. He should have meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. With Egypt at the top of the agenda, Barak will brief Congress and speak with Dennis Ross, a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’s final day is this Friday, and he’s been taking some time to reflect on his two years in the position. He said he’s spoken to his successor, Jay Carney, about the job quite a bit and they have talked about the longevity and greater importance of the role: “In a country like this, it will long outlive the personality of myself, just as it long outlived the personalities that came before me and will long outlive who comes next.” He’s expected to move on to private consulting after leaving the White House.

Defense Secretary Gates has added his voice to the ongoing commentary on Egypt. He said his hope is that the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spur reforms in governments across the Middle East: “My hope would be other governments in the region . . . will take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward addressing the political and economic grievances of their people.” He also lauded the Egyptian military for its restraint during the protests, saying it acted in “an exemplary fashion.”

And the Joint Chiefs of Staff unveiled its 2011 military strategy yesterday, the first in seven years. The approach doesn’t just focus on countering violent extremism, though that is a central issue. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen wrote, “this strategy also rightly emphasizes that our military power is most effective when employed in concert with other elements of power.” Echoing Clinton’s recently released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, Mullen described the strategy as a “whole-of-nation approach to foreign policy, with civilian leadership appropriately at the helm, will be essential as we address the complex security challenges before us.”