The Whole World is Watching

The critiques of Egypt coming out of Washington are getting louder by the day. After calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside, President Obama said this morning, “We pray that the violence in Egypt will end and the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized.” State Department spokesman PJ Crowley took up the call for “free, fair and credible elections,” and added that Washington hopes they'll happen sooner rather than later. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, was a bit more insistent, commenting that a transition is needed right away—“now means now.” Both also drew attention to the violence that has broken out in Egypt. On Twitter last night, Crowley said that perpetrators of the violence “must be held accountable,” and this morning he added that Washington condemns attempts to “intimidate international journalists in Cairo.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also denounced the violence in a phone call with Egypt’s new vice president, Omar Suleiman, and called on the government to find out who was responsible for the bloodshed.

White House Chief of Staff William Daley meanwhile said that the events in Egypt could be a watershed moment for the rest of the region. In an interview yesterday, Daley commented, “The Middle East may never be what it was pre the last 10 days, and what it will be is yet to be determined.” He also drew a comparison to antiwar demonstrations in Chicago in the 1960s, when his father was mayor of the city. “The world will be watching,” he said, throwing back to a phrase the protestors chanted in 1968.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will head to Paris in a couple weeks for a G20 meeting. He and other finance ministers and heads of central banks will talk about the recovery from the financial crisis and the U.S. economy, among other issues. Geithner will be in G20 member Brazil for a day next week.

Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton gathered the diplomatic troops to Washington to talk about development and diplomacy. She opened sarcastically: “What better time to pull you from your posts and responsibilities?” and called the get-together the “first-ever in American history all-hands-on-deck ambassadorial conference.” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen made an appearance to give a speech, saying that making sure the State Department has the funds it needs is “absolutely mandatory.”

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell said yesterday that Washington wants to help India and China get along better. He even said that the administration was willing to “take steps to facilitate” an improved dialogue between the two countries.

And yesterday, President Obama officially ratified the New START treaty, signing the documents Secretary Clinton will exchange with her Russian counterpart on Saturday.