Mike Mullen, asked and answered: Events in Charlottesville have largely pushed North Korea off the center of the cable and broadcast news maps.
That said, North Korea hasn't ceased to exist. With that in mind, we call your attention to Mike Mullen's assesment on yesterday's Meet the Press.
From 2007 through 2011, Mullen was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yesterday, he voiced concern about the rhetoric used by Donald J. Trump in the past week or so.
This led to a question about rationality. Presumably, Todd was discussing the rationality of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, though he didn't explicitly say who he was asking about.
Our own supreme leader has been engaging in "fire and brimstone" rhetoric which "looks like brinksmanship," Mullen said. Here's what he went on to say about their supreme leader:
TODD (8/13/17): Jim Clapper, former director of national intelligence, he says essentially the notion of North Koreans denuclearizing is just—I think he called it a non-starter. And he essentially says it's time to accept the notion that they're going to be a nuclear regime, and we kind of have to move on from that. Do you accept that?We're assuming that the highlighted exchange was about Kim Jong-un.
MULLEN: I don't accept that yet. I recognize that as an option or an outcome, and certainly there is a, there is a—one option is to accept that, and then contain him.
Obviously, the concern you would have with that is somehow, he has this weapon. And he is still somewhat of an unknown to us, and unpredictable, and someone that we can't in any way, shape or form predict.
TODD: Do you think he is rational? Do you think he's a rational actor?
MULLEN: No, I don't think he is rational.
TODD: You don't think he's rational.
MULLEN: No, he's got a— I don't think he's a rational actor. He's got a rich history in his family, the legacy to uphold. He is on a race to gain this capability. Much different from his father or his grandfather in terms of developing capability. He is on a flat-out sprint to develop this capability and then see what happens.
We don't know if Mullen is right in his assessment of Kim. But in Mullen's apparent view, our supreme leader has been engaged in "almost a fire and brimstone" type of "brinksmanship" in the rhetorical realm, while their supreme leader "may not be a rational actor."
This topic moved off center-stage this weekend. Perhaps our leader will get distracted. But the basic situation is still very much there.