A couple of weeks ago, after North Korea once again made threatening noises against the U.S. and its allies, Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs Of Staff, made it clear that the United States intends to do everything in its power to deny North Korea the ability to launch a missile to the United States and — if they do, “if deterrence fails” — to “impose costs” on them.
The admiral added, referring to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, “And we believe that this young lad ought to be deterred by that. And if he’s not, we’ll be ready.”
It seems that the Admiral’s words — and the majority of the world’s words of caution, restraint and warning — have fallen on deaf ears, and it seems that the United States and its allies continue to “be ready.”
Last week Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter mentioned an ongoing annual U.S.-South Korean military exercise, Key Resolve, and Foal Eagle, a combined and joint field training exercise that runs across the Korean Peninsula from March 1 to April 30, to “demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the alliance and ensure the readiness of both of our forces to defend the Republic of Korea and deepen interoperability with U.S. and South Korean forces.”
As part of the deterrence, B52 strategic bombers — whether nuclear capable or nuclear armed — have flown missions around the Korean peninsula.
Thursday, two “nuclear capable” B-2 stealth bombers flew long-range missions over the Korean Peninsula — an additional, credible and, what should be, a very effective deterrent.
Shortly after the B-2 bombers made their appearance, Kim Jong-un once again unleashed “a new round of bellicose rhetoric,” threatening that “the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation,” and signed “a rocket preparation plan and ordered his forces on standby to strike the U.S. mainland, South Korea, Guam and Hawaii,” according to new sources to the Stars and Stripes.
For “Austinites,” things are now getting pretty close to home.
It seems that young Kim Jong-un and his generals are now selecting targets for their rockets and, according to NKNEWS.org, Austin, Texas, is on their targets list, along with Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
How are Austinites taking this “imminent threat?”
Well, if Austin’s daily newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman has the pulse of Austin right, Austinites are merely mocking North Korea’s threat.
The lead paragraph in a piece last evening says, “Maybe Kim Jong-un is an Aggie fan, or he’s jealous of Gov. Rick Perry’s hair.”
Similar sentiments are being expressed in dozens of Twitter messages at Austin.culturemap.com.
Here are some examples:
Kim Jong-un taking Austin’s plastic bag ban pretty hard. Why not just write a letter to the editor? #whyaustin
Austiners should relax. He is using Apple maps. #whyaustin
Austin is home to U.S. strategic BBQ reserves. RT @dblanchard: He just wanted some brisket. #whyaustin #
#whyAustin Three words…Rick, Perry, and…um….I can’t remember the third. #Oops
Kim’s Jong-un poorly received at Hippy Hollow. #whyaustin. (Author’s note: Hippy Hollow, or Hippie Hollow, is Austin’s “public clothing optional” park on Lake Travis)
Kim Jong-un totally lost it when he couldn’t find parking at downtown Whole Foods. #whyaustin
Two hours’ wait at Franklin Barbecue! This will not stand for Kim Jong-un! #whyaustin
Kim Jong-un still mad about being kicked out of Alamo Drafthouse for texting. #whyaustin
(Author’s note #2: The various references to BBQ reflect Austin’s and Texas’ pride in their BBQ — and rightly so)
Austin’s KVUE.com perhaps best puts this whole situation into proper perspective:
“Tensions rise almost every year around the time the U.S.-South Korean drills take place, but as soon as those drills end, things go back to normal and people put those tensions behind them quite quickly,” said Sung Hyun-sang, the South Korean president of a clothing maker operating in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.
“I think and hope that this time won’t be different.”
And in a telling sign that even the North Koreans don’t expect war, the national airline, Air Koryo, is adding flights to its spring lineup and preparing to host the scores of tourists they expect to flock to Pyongyang despite the threats issuing forth from the Supreme Command.
War or no war, it seems Pyongyang remains open for business.
Humor or no humor, satire or no satire, let us hope that cooler minds prevail.
While it is highly doubtful that Austin, Texas is in any immediate danger, the tense situation could still get out of hand with unpredictable but dire consequences for North Korea and the region.