Warning Signs for Autocrats

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Berlin tomorrow for NATO talks. As the alliance debates military action in Libya, the situation in Northern Africa is expected to top the agenda, though Afghanistan will be discussed as well. On the sidelines, Clinton will meet with Georgia, Russia and Ukraine. Then, on Saturday, Clinton will move on to Seoul as the administration pushes for a restart of the failed nuclear talks. She’ll round out her trip in Japan, where she’ll meet with the country’s leaders as they struggle to deal with a nuclear meltdown and devastation in the wake of the massive Sendai earthquake and tsunami.

Yesterday, the secretary of state reiterated Washington’s desire to see Libyan Colonel Muammar Qaddafi step down. “We believe, too, that there needs to be a transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people and the departure of Qaddafi from power and from Libya,” Clinton said. On Sunday's African Union announcement that it had come to an agreement with Qaddafi to end the conflict, Clinton said Washington was waiting on a “full briefing” from the AU before it commented on the deal.

Clinton also cited the arrest of the Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo as a “strong signal to dictators and tyrants” of the “consequences for those who cling to power” in the face of the will of their people.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney called for the release of journalists and human-rights activists detained “unlawfully or inappropriately” in Libya. He said that the “State Department is working very hard” to ensure the release of a number of foreign journalists that were captured by Qaddafi’s government.

Maybe Leon Panetta won’t be the person to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates after all? As the National Journal reports, current Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is “another serious contender.” Mabus used to be the governor of Mississippi and is close with President Obama and General James Cartwright, the current vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who is rumored to be current Chairman Mike Mullen’s replacement.

And Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be in Hungary tomorrow and Thursday for the U.S.–European Union Justice and Home Affairs meeting. One of the main topics of discussion will be cybercrime.