Night Watch

North Korea: Update. A report from a North Korean source to a Japanese news outlet says that Kim Jong Un did not expect his uncle to be shot immediately and is despondent because he is responsible for his uncle's death.

Comment: There is no way to know whether any of these reports are true or false. They could easily be part of a propaganda campaign to make Kim look remorseful and thus not a monster, at a time when the Party propaganda department is trying to project an image of normality. Alternatively, the reports could be a manifestation of crumbling support for an inexperienced, undisciplined leader. There are other plausible explanations.

NightWatch credits the reports about Kim's mental state to the extent that they help explain sudden, inconsistent policy shifts and actions. They also help prevent premature cognitive closure about this dangerous security problem.

Thailand: Anti-government protestors marching in Bangkok clashed with police on 26 December. They rejected a government offer of political reform in advance of elections in February. As a result the government extended special security measures for two more months.

Comment: The government has not stepped down as the demonstrators want, but has offered reforms and new elections. The demonstrators are boycotting the elections because they want a "people's council" to replace the government. The clashes arose from protestor interference with candidate registration for the elections.

In new elections, the incumbent government is certain to be returned to office. That explains why the opposition wants a vaguely defined alternative government structure. There are no good guys in this dispute; there will be more clashes.

Pakistan: A bomb scare delayed the first hearing in a high treason case against former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf on 24 December. The hearing is now set for 1 January.

The government has charged Musharraf with abrogating, subverting, suspending, holding in abeyance and attempting to conspire against the 1973 Constitution by declaring an emergency and overthrowing the superior judiciary in November 2007.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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