The head of U.S. military forces in the Pacific on Thursday questioned whether North Korea’s Kim Jong Un consistently makes lucid and logical decisions.
Kim’s “behavior” — or at least what has been reported out of the notoriously isolated country — “would make me wonder whether “¦ he is always in the rational decision-making mode, and this is a problem,” U.S. Pacific Command head Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear said at a Pentagon press briefing.
Since coming to power in late 2011, Kim has presided over a number of startling events in North Korea, including last month’s execution of Jang Song Thaek, his uncle and former adviser. Last spring, the hermit nation engaged in nuclear saber-rattling against South Korea and the United States. Kim also has overseen long-range missile and nuclear-device tests, as well as expansion of the country’s fissile material-production capabilities.
These actions have puzzled and unnerved senior U.S. military officials, some of whom now worry that the Kim regime may not be as stable as was once thought. Were the government to collapse, North Korea could be faced with a power vacuum that might jeopardize the security of the country’s weapons of mass destruction or sensitive materials.
“The way ahead with the new leader is not clear to me,” said Locklear, adding that Kim’s actions have contributed to making the region a “very dangerous place.”
North Korea watchers similarly have said they are uncertain why Pyongyang risked such potentially regime-destabilizing activities as last spring’s brinkmanship tactics with the United States and the more recent purge of Jang.
The latter event is particularly mystifying to some issue experts who wonder why Kim allowed state-run media to report Jang was executed for plotting to seize power from him. Such an admission would seem to tarnish the carefully crafted Kim dynasty brand of being beloved by all in North Korea.
More recently, Pyongyang has demanded that the U.S. and South Korean militaries cancel their annual joint exercises, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, or risk what North Korea has termed “unimaginable holocaust.”
However, Locklear said there is no chance of a cancelation.
“We don’t to plan to stop the exercises; the exercises are part of the alliance, the cornerstone of how we train and maintain the alliance,” he said.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."