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June 25, 2006

Obliged To Look The Other Way

WeekilSo another argument was heard last week: that Mr. Bush, having gone into Iraq on bad intelligence about weapons that never existed, could be erring now in the other direction — deliberately whistling past the warheads in Pyongyang, in hopes that the problem will solve itself.”

–From NYT Week In Review story (Don’t Shoot. We’re Not Ready), one of the few mainstream articles to appear lately on the Korea threat to carry even a smallish pic of Kim Jong Il.

Unless a major story involves a topic that is quite abstract, you can usually count on that event to generate quite a flow of news images.  So in cases when it doesn’t, it’s instructive to ask why.

Consider North Korea, for example. Here they are on the verge of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile with a potential range of 3,500 miles, and its practically a non-event.  Can you imagine the coverage if it were Iran about to test? instead, this story has remained low on the radar, failing to draw the scrutiny — and, the prime visual space — of major news magazines and newspapers.

Perhaps the only publication willing to push the story recently was “The Week.” The rest of the MSM seemed to oblige the Administration with the low profile.

(illustration: Darren Gygi.  The Week.  June 30, 2006.  Cover)

  • Marysz

    I’m just guessing, but could it be because North Korea doesn’t have oil?

  • Annoying Old Guy

    On what basis do you believe the Bush Administration is keeping a low profile? Among other things, they have publically activated missile defense which is not the kind of thing one does to stay under the Old Media radar.

  • margaret

    I suspect that it is to defuse the rhetoric from both sides. There must be some heavy-hitting diplomacy going on. If there is, we should be grateful if Bush is finally talking, privately, instead of yelling and brandishing his sword. That’s the way it should be done. Talk and avoid war.

  • Alan

    I don’t think the issue is oil. I think there is a difference in the public perception of the two counties. Iran is full of Islamic radicals who hate our guts and gave sufficient resources to wage war. N. Korea is just a lonely, poor desparate dictator who is trying to rattle his saber so someone will pay attention to him.

  • acm

    if we publish the picture, then we have to face the issue. and it seems hard

  • jtfromBC

    AOG> “The Air Force general responsible for building a U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield on Friday voiced *high confidence* it could shoot down any U.S.-bound missile from North Korea, despite critics’ doubts.”
    High confidence by the Pentagon and WH has never been in short supply *its simply the results* that have been *overwhelming unimpressive*. Why should this latest pronouncement be any different? For a brief history:

  • NrkeyQueer

    Very astute on the “out of (media) sight, out of (publics) mind” observation. Most of the coverage I have seen is pushing the old Crazy-ol-Kim story. More space in an article is usually devoted to his huge DVD collection and cinema obsession then with the starvation and impovrishment enedmeic in the nation. Okay, we get it! He’s a fuckin’ Bond villan! Next slide, please.
    The Personalization filter helps sells newspapers, but it also aids and abets the administrations tactics. Both Iran and N.Korea’s leaders have been portrayed as “kooky”. Ahmnedenajad is portrayed as a mad junkyard dog who must be put down. Kim’s media portrayed madness is something altogeather creepier and yet somehow less harmful or threatening then Mahmud’s. ‘He may be a little bit nuts about his DVD collection, but at least he isnt threatening a rain of fire on isreal’ seems to be the unspoken comparison. Its some wierd geo-political iteration of the lowerclass/mad vs. upperclass/eccentric construction of mental illness we got in this society.
    Any other ideas on the “crazy Kim/Mahmud” meme?

  • Quentin

    The moral of the story: get yourself an A-bomb. The moral of the story: Israel, Pakistan and India already have one. The moral of the story: Iran withdraw from the NPT and you can have one too.

  • itwasntme

    I’m hoping Margaret is right. Sabre rattling, the usual bush stance, will make everything worse. I’m hope that diplomatic talks will resolve the issue, because I’ve read, don’t remember where, that our anti-ballistic missle system cannot take it down, we’d have to strike while fuel-loaded missle is in situ in NK. This would be bad, and SK would hate it, so I think diplomatic talks are seriously being undertaken in this area.
    I would hope that we would shoot it down after launch. Next best, and very risky, pin-point bombing in situ after warning to everybody that it will be happening, and hope Li’l Kim hasn’t got what it takes to enter the DMZ.
    I haven’t a clue as to what this stupid administration will actually do, but maybe by this time bush has been chastened enough to listen to somebody with sense on the issue.

  • readytoblowagasket

    To me, what’s weirder than no images is that this illustration looks *nothing like* Kim Jong Il. I never would have known who it was because he looks very Western here, very American. Kind of like The Rock. So, was this morphing of him intentional or accidental? I like to imagine the illustrator was asked to make him look crazy, and the result was he ended up looking American.
    Meanwhile, some buzz in the blogosphere over the weekend about Walter Mondale’s calls for a preemptive strike against North Korea. Mondale paints a vivid, sky-is-falling picture:
    “Here’s this bizarre, hermit kingdom up there, with a paranoid leader getting ready to test a missile system that can hit us. We’ve got to stop it.”
    Mondale was U.S. ambassador to Japan, yet contrast his language with this Internet “press conference” exchange from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
    Q: There have been reports of North Korea preparing itself for the launch of the Taepodong. As it is viewed that the missile is not aimed toward Japan, do you not think the Japanese media are playing up its threat toward Japan?
    [Deputy Press Secretary] Tomohiko Taniguchi: Many thanks for your question which if I may say is puzzling. Where did you get your impression that the missile is not aimed at Japan?
    Q: I heard that the Taepodong is long ranged, so it may fly over Japan but not land in Japan.
    Mr. Taniguchi: What is important is that any launch of a ballistic missile could pose a serious threat to the countries within its range, which is exactly the reason why North Korea has agreed not once but multiple times that they would be putting a moratorium on themselves so that no ballistic missile would be launched. Therefore, it may constitute a violation against the Pyongyang Declaration and against the US-North Korea Joint Communiqué as well.
    You know as I know that no one in this country is panicking. But as I said as above, so long as it could constitute a violation against an agreed pledge and a threat toward regional security, we must continue sending a warning to Pyongyang that they should never launch the kind of missile we are talking about.
    Japan has been in diplomatic negotiations with North Korea for years.
    The U.S. couldn’t negotiate its way out of a paper bag.

  • Lighkeeper

    Yes, our priorities are indeed very skewed.
    All of a sudden, everyone seems to agree that “something must be done about Iran.” How did we get here? (The question is rhetorical). How did everyone all of a sudden decide that we are in MORTAL DANGER if we don’t take out the man who does not even control the politics of Iran itself? (the Ayatollahs do)
    This selective paranoia is so unbelievably hypocritical – it goes quite aways in explaining why so much of the world absolutely despises the US and its foreign policy.
    Incidentally, the case is the same with ‘terrorism.’ The chances of someone being killed are still far less than say a car accident. In fact I think its something like 1/10000000. However, terrorism has great media potential, seeing as how one of its prime objective is to create fear and terror. But by always and only presenting terrorism as the ultimate danger to our lives, aren’t we in effect aiding the terrorists in their task? On top of that we’re making an elephant out of a few measly peanuts: terrorism has always and probably always will exist. No matter how many people we arrest or illegally detain, there will always be others with grievances so severe they are willing to die for their revenge.
    Unfortunately, we can’t really see anything through this haze right now. I feel as though a cloud has descended upon us and we are surrounded by darkness, unable to make out the faces in the light.

  • ummabdulla

    “This selective paranoia is so unbelievably hypocritical – it goes quite aways in explaining why so much of the world absolutely despises the US and its foreign policy.”
    The government certainly is very selective about what it calls “terrorism” and what it gets upset about. Just one example that I read about today:
    “The Bush administration finally took action against alleged terrorists living in plain sight in Miami, but they weren’t the right-wing Cuban terrorists implicated in actual acts of terror, such as blowing a civilian Cuban airliner out of the sky. They were seven young black men whose crime was more “aspirational than operational,” the FBI said…”

  • GSD

    Deadeye Dick Cheney said that North Korea had a “rudimentary missile system”.
    Unlike the “state of the art” ready to drop “mushroom clouds” nuclear program that Saddam Hussein had, right Dick?

  • momly

    I like to imagine the illustrator was asked to make him look crazy, and the result was he ended up looking American.
    HA HA HA HA HA!!! I woke up the dog with that one, hee!!
    [serious voice]
    But y’know, most of the rest of the world would probably not laugh at that; just nod their heads in agreement.
    [whiny voice]
    Why do the hate us so much?
    {conspirator’s voice]
    I found a tick on my dog the other day. Oh, they want me to think it was a tick and not a tiny camera, but I fooled them! I crushed it!
    [regular voice]
    I think the illustration looks like Elvis, too. Talk about crazy Americans!

  • ozil

    I think that they aren’t too worried because North Korea is going to go after Isreal. Biblical prophecy!!

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