The Final Countdown

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appeared with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen yesterday to talk to reporters about the Pentagon’s report on the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. And the results were pretty conclusive. Gates said about repealing the ban on openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people serving in the military, “This can be done, and should be done, without posing a serious risk to military readiness.” He called on Congress to vote on the repeal by the end of the year, before the new Congress takes its place on the Hill. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings on the issue starting tomorrow. 

Working hard to get things done before January, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will also head to the Hill tomorrow. He’ll meet with congressional Republicans to try to break a stalemate over Bush-era tax cuts (President Obama spent nearly two hours meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress yesterday). The Obama administration wants to let tax cuts on higher-income households to lapse. 

Iranian officials will be in Geneva next week to meet with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that Washington is “encouraged” that the Iranians have agreed to talk. Tehran though has said it will not discuss its uranium-enrichment efforts. Pushing back, the secretary of state said that the nuclear issue would be on the agenda: “This is an opportunity for Iran to come to the table and discuss the matters that are of concern to the international community: first and foremost their nuclear program.” 

The WikiLeaks saga continues. Defense Secretary Gates said yesterday that the leaked documents wouldn’t have much of an impact on foreign policy. He said that though the leaks may have been “embarrassing,” it was in the end about states’ interests and nothing else: “The fact is governments deal with the United States because it's in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us and not because they think we can keep secrets.