Annals of Propaganda
The principle task of the US propaganda apparatus at the onset of the Obama regime is to provide cover for it as it betrays the electorate's expectation of change.
One of those no-change areas is US policy toward the DPRK.
The appended Times article refreshes five themes repeatedly used by the Bush regime to justify its continuation of the state of war between the DPRK and the US. The following list tabulates the themes and the language in the Times article which refreshes those themes.
The Times even tells us which theme it thinks will be most effective in rationalizing the continuation of the Bush regime's DPRK policy: The headline, North Korea Threatens Missile Test, clearly exploits fear.
Read objectively, the last four themes, as rationalizations for a state of war, are ludicrous.
Taken in turn:
The "ballistic missile test" was actually manufactured, probably for this propaganda effort. About six weeks ago, aerial reconnaisance photographs of the DPRK's missile test site were interpreted as showing more than normal activity. This interpretation was further interpreted as signifying preparations for a missile test and still further interpreted as being a test of a long range missile capable of reaching Alaska. In its final interpretation by the professional propagandists who wrote the article this chain of interpretations became:
As Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Japan on Monday, her first foreign visit as secretary of state, North Korea threatened to test what its neighbors believe is a ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.
In this, its final interpretation, the DPRK, in addition to threatening the US, is depicted as deliberately insulting a high US official. This is a long way from seeing a few extra trucks at a DPRK missile test site six weeks ago, but it illustrates quite clearly the extreme lengths the US propaganda apparatus is willing to go in its effort to control public opinion on a matter of interest to the US ruling elite.
It is the opinion of this website that the United States is a capitalist dictatorship operating behind a facade of democracy. A major component of the facade is the quadrennial presidential election. Hypothetically, this could undermine the dictatorship if the new regime's inevitable betrayal of the electorate's expecations were to lead to civil unrest. The function of the post-election propaganda is psychologically to destroy the electorate's expectations in order to avoid this unrest.
Kazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
TOKYO — As Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Japan on Monday, her first foreign visit as secretary of state, North Korea threatened to test what its neighbors believe is a ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.
Speaking briefly at an airport arrival ceremony, Mrs. Clinton did not directly address the reports from North Korea, but on the flight over she continued to employ a tone that was notably softer than previous American pronouncements, echoing remarks she made in New York last week.
“Our position is when they move forward in presenting a verifiable and complete dismantling and denuclearization, we have a great openness to working with them,” she said.
She also repeated her offer to normalize ties with North Korea and help rebuild its economy if it abandoned its nuclear weapons.
But in what appeared to be a pointed challenge to her mission on this trip to Asia and a test for the new Obama administration, North Korea issued an oblique statement responding to recent news reports that it had been preparing to test-launch a Taepodong-2 missile from a base on its east coast.
“One will come to know later what will be launched,” the North’s state-run news agency, KCNA, said Monday, the 67th birthday of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.
In Seoul, the South Korean defense minister Lee Sang-hee said North Korea had been preparing to test a Taepodong-2 missile since January. In recent weeks, South Korean media have reported that North Korean engineers were assembling a 105-foot Taepodong-2 missile.
Analysts and government officials in the region have feared that North Korea may launch a long-range missile to help make its nuclear program a top foreign policy issue for President Obama. North Korea has also threatened a naval clash with South Korea on their disputed western sea border.
With its economy in shambles and isolated from most of the world, North Korea has often used military threats to extract economic aid and diplomatic benefits from other countries.
As she landed in Tokyo, Mrs. Clinton appeared to be sticking with her previously scheduled agenda of a trip this week to four Asian countries, intended to build solidarity between the United States and Asia on issues like the global economic crisis and climate change.
Stepping from her plane on a blustery, cold evening, she reaffirmed the “cornerstone” alliance between Washington and Tokyo and declared that “we have to work together to address the global financial crisis, which is affecting all of us.”
With the Japanese government reporting on Monday that its economy shrank at the sharpest quarterly rate since 1974, the financial crisis is sure to figure high on Mrs. Clinton’s agenda, not just in Japan, but in Indonesia, South Korea, and China, which she will visit later in the week.
Choosing to make Asia her first official visit, rather than Europe or the Middle East, where secretaries of state traditionally begin their diplomatic travels, was also intended to send a message that the region was a high priority.
“This region is indispensable to our efforts to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st century,” she told reporters aboard the plane.
Mrs. Clinton said she would pursue a partnership on climate change in China at the end of this week. She suggested, though, that she did not intend to press Beijing to accept mandatory caps on carbon emissions, something President Obama supports, but which is not yet American policy.
“There are a number of different ways which we can explore with the Chinese to be partners,” she said.
She also praised the Chinese for adopting a “robust” economic stimulus program, and said she would brief leaders on the Obama administration’s stimulus package. While she said would raise human-rights concerns in Beijing, the subject does not seem likely to come up prominently.
Turning to another tense relationship, Mrs. Clinton said she would meet in two weeks with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, for what she said she hoped would be a “positive start.” But she said the Obama administration had not decided whether to scale back a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe that has caused tension between Moscow and Washington.
Mrs. Clinton’s choice of Japan for her first stop is meant to reassure the Japanese that they remain America’s key Asian ally. Ten years ago, former President Bill Clinton skipped Japan during an Asian swing and spent more than a week in Beijing — a practice some dubbed “Japan-passing.”
This time, however, Japan looms large in efforts to recover from the global economic crisis. With its enormous foreign-exchange reserves, the country has pledged up to $100 billion in aid to the International Monetary Fund to help countries facing credit shortages because of the crisis.
The United States and Japan are also scheduled to sign an agreement to begin moving 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam — something the Pentagon has long sought as part of its realignment of forces in the Pacific.
To the traditional list of official meetings, Mrs. Clinton has added a town-hall meeting at a university, the kind of encounter she thrived on as first lady and political candidate. On Tuesday, she will tour the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji in the 1920s.
Mrs. Clinton also plans to meet the leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa. That may rattle the government of Prime Minister Taro Aso, which is deeply unpopular and on shaky ground.
En route, Mrs. Clinton also mixed her conciliatory tone toward North Korea with a warning that the North Korean government must be more forthcoming about the fate of Japanese citizens whom it abducted in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
“The abductee issue is a grave issue, it is such a human tragedy,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters on her plane before a refueling stop in Alaska. On Tuesday, in what could be a dramatic highlight of the trip, she plans to meet with the families of Japanese who were abducted.
Mrs. Clinton played down suspicions, held by some in the Bush administration, that North Korea has a clandestine program to produce highly enriched uranium. What is not in dispute, she said, is that North Korea possesses plutonium, which it is using to make nuclear weapons.
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company