Santa Maria Sun / Canary
It's not a bird, and it's not a plane
How often do you look up?
As a bird, I look up all the time. The skies are my domain, and I always need to know how they look. I’m constantly asking questions, many of which are filled with jargon you surface-huggers probably can’t even pronounce.
Is that smudge on the horizon going to force me to alter my flight plan later today? Are those clouds going to start scudding anytime soon? How does yesterday’s barometric reading compare to today?
I like my skies friendly, because smooth is the only way to sail. Sure, you have your storm-chasers and your zephyr-busters, but this canary prefers calm days, no fog, and no gusts. If there’s going to be wind, it should be steady and predictable.
I’ve noticed a few more of you looking up than usual lately. At first I thought humans were finally taking an interest in the life and wonder that happens literally feet above their heads, but then I saw the recent headlines and realized that the neck-craning is probably motivated by fear.
“The White House has been captured in the view of our long-range missile, and the capital of war is within the range of our atomic bomb.”
CNN reports that those words are part of a message (translated into English) on a propaganda video recently posted to YouTube by North Korea’s Uriminzokkiri.
I saw the video in question. There are a lot of images of weapons pointed at the sky and missiles rolling through parade-packed streets. Then everything starts firing.
The White House appears in crosshairs. Then the capitol dome explodes. All while someone passionately narrates in a language I wish I understood.
I’d never heard of Uriminzokkiri before, but apparently it distributes North Korean governmental news. And more than news. Even with the horrible special effects (the dome explosion isn’t exactly Independence Day caliber), the message is unsettling. Couple that with North Korea’s recent message to the world after the U.N. Security Council voted on sanctions for the country, the gist of which was: We can blow up the United States and South Korea in a nuclear attack, and we’ll do it before anyone else can do it to us.
From what I’ve read, analysts and officials don’t really believe North Korea is currently capable of doing anything of the sort. And I have to think that, even if they could, they wouldn’t.
Except who knows how Kim Jon-un’s mind works? He might have really believed that Dennis Rodman was a bona fide ambassador from the United States, in which case we could all be doomed. Sorry, but I don’t have much faith in the peacemaking abilities of someone who’s made a career out of publicity stunts. For all I know, the former NBA pro’s jaunt to such a notoriously closed-off country was the 2013 version of dying his hair green and piercing something floppy and sensitive. And while Rodman insists that the supreme leader is a cool guy who really, really wants things to get better, it’s hard to believe that message with images of fire dancing across Washington, D.C. playing on North Korean computer screens. And then there’s the country’s desire to withdraw from its armistice with South Korea. Again.
Who can count on anything in this crazy world? Despite the general raising of skeptical eyebrows at North Korea’s global posturing, the U.S. defense secretary did report that a $1 billion effort to put 14 more missile interceptors on the West Coast—some of which could settle at Vandenberg Air Force Base—would kick in. You know, just in case.
The efficacy of such an effort is material for another discussion—and you can see some of that in Frank Gonzales’ story on page 7—but the simple fact that our nation’s leaders are deciding it’s better to be safe (ish) than sorry indicates that, well, there’s a chance someone across the ocean could finally push that red button.
This isn’t Cold War-level, get-under-your-desks (as-if-the-few-cubic-feet-of-wood-and-school-supplies-would-protect-you-from-a-megaton-blast) panic, but I don’t blame you for finally setting your sights on my corner of the atmosphere. If I see you looking up more in the coming days and weeks, I’ll know that you’re not necessarily contemplating flight, but are nervous about news that sounds too crazy to be true.
Heck, even I might start looking up more.
The Canary thinks you should be able to look your enemy in the eyes if you want to attack. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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