Last night’s failed missile launch by North Korea has exposed a kind of cognitive dissonance in the western mainstream media and also some alt-media sources.
On the one hand, North Korea is an evil state whose nuclear weapons and advanced delivery systems are capable of setting hell-fire upon East Asia and even parts of the western United States.
At the same time, some of these same sources are promulgating an antithetical narrative that North Korea is little more than an ineffective dictatorship whose weapons delivery systems cannot get off the ground and whose conventional weapons are so lacking that during parades, fake weapons are on display.
The fact that this second narrative has captured hearts and minds across the spectrum is best illustrated by the fact that maverick conservative alt-media figure Milo Yiannopoulos has posted a story about just how poorly North Korea is armed, citing, NBC news, Fox news, and the left-wing UK tabloid Daily Mirror.
So which is it? Is North Korea a kind of bite sized ‘evil empire’ ready and willing to destroy much of the world at a moment’s notice, or is it a comical commie monarchy whose weapons are just for show?
Donald Trump expressed his own unique brand of cognitive dissonance on the matter, in the following Tweet,
North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!
Donald Trump seems to think that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping bonded over ‘the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen’, but the reality is that China and also Russia have been totally consistent over North Korea. It is western leaders and the western media that cannot seem to choose a narrative and stick with it.
China opposes nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has many disagreements with the North Korean government, but China also fervently disagrees with American military escalation in the region. Russia likewise offers plenty of condemnation for the behaviour of both North Korea and American war-hawks.
The truth of the matter is that the fire-power of North Korea is probably grossly exaggerated by both North Korea and by the same people in the US who lied about the nature of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003, lied about Libya in 2011 and are lying about chemical weapons in Syria now.
Both North Korea and the US have strangely similar goals which underpin their need to exaggerate the true strength of North Korea’s military. Pyongyang wants to look mighty on the world states and the US wants to look both mighty and mighty angry over a real threat. It wouldn’t be very convincing if the US was threatening war over ‘fake weapons’. Then again many in the US want a new Cold War with Russia over, fake news.
That being said, North Korea does have nuclear weapons and even if North Korean delivery systems are as inadequate as they seem, they still could find some way to deliver the weapons to nearby countries, most prominently South Korea.
There is no good reason to inflame a situation that was more or less a sleeping issue. If China and Russia which both border North Korea are not frightened of Kim Jong-Un, a country on the other side of the Pacific, the United States, ought to adopt a similar approach.
Donald Trump should listen to his words and not show ‘disrespect’ to the Chinese President.