Terrorists and Fools
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took action on an executive order to go after terrorists and their supporters by dubbing Badruddin Haqqani a “specially designated global terrorist.” He’s the leader of the Haqqani network, a group the administration, specifically Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, has singled out for its connections to Pakistan’s intelligence service. Giving Haqqani this new title will mean that any of his assets under U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen, which “will help stem the flow of financial and other assistance to this dangerous individual,” according to the State Department. The move comes as tensions are ratcheting up between the U.S. and Pakistan in the wake of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
In an interview with CBS News yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that “lone wolf” terrorists inspired by the death of bin Laden are a “source of concern” because individual actors are “very difficult to prevent.” She clarified that Washington is not ruling out the possibility that those lone wolves may be “operationally in touch with Al Qaeda” as well.
China responded today to Clinton’s comments that the Beijing government is on a “fool’s errand,” attempting to hedge the revolutionary tide. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yi said, “I think perhaps you have taken the quotes out of context, and ought to look at the full picture to understand the U.S. appraisal of the talks' achievements.”
The secretary of state has meanwhile moved on to greener pastures—she’s in Greenland for talks about resource management in the Arctic. Representatives from Denmark, Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden will all take part in the discussion. The goals of the talks, according to James Steinberg, Clinton’s deputy, include starting a task force that can figure out how to prevent disasters associated with the search for oil and put in place “effective mechanisms” to deal with them should they happen. Iceland has suggested dividing the region up into chunks and giving each country control over a given area.
Before making her way north, though, Clinton addressed the Council of the Americas on Wednesday. She called Latin America’s growth a “stunning transformation,” but drew attention to some of the ongoing challenges, from “weak education systems” to “weak democratic institutions” and “inadequate fiscal policies.” The secretary of state urged countries to tackle these problems before it’s too late.
Syria has taken itself out of the running for a spot on the UN Human Rights Council. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was pleased with the decision: “[It] is a result of the good sense of the member states of the Asia group who determined that they were unwilling to give sufficient support to a country whose human rights record is deplorable.” Damascus has been harshly criticized for its violent and deadly reaction to protests. White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama would soon be giving a speech about the ongoing unrest in the Middle East.
And on Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today that the U.S. military alone has spent $750 million on military operations. The costs are piling up as the Pentagon is in theory focused on cutting it’s budget. Gates said, “We'll find the money.”