Austin Bay
Propaganda campaigns inevitably experience the equivalent of a mass media Freudian slip, a moment so blatantly extreme their ostensibly crafted spiels of fear, hate and threat backfire and reveal an inconvenient truth or two about the propagandists.

North Korea's latest round of saber-rattling theatrics provides several textbook examples of the phenomenon, but the Kim dictatorship's targeting of Austin, Texas, for nuclear destruction is particularly demonstrative.

Last week, Pyongyang's Korean Workers Party propaganda organ, Rodong, published several photos of tyrant Kim Jong-Un allegedly chairing an emergency meeting in a top-secret command bunker. One photo shows a map with missile trajectories. According to, the map displays a missile strike plan, with the likely targets being Honolulu, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Austin.

Propagandists always prefer to have proximate causes for unleashing a diatribe. Kim's alleged proximate cause for his emergency meeting was the participation of two U.S. B-2 strategic stealth bombers in South Korean-U.S. military exercises. For the record, the exercise is an annual event. The B-2s flew from Missouri to Asia, then returned.

The annual South Korean-U.S. military exercises are an opportunity to train soldiers, but they also send the message that Seoul and Washington are prepared to defend South Korea and the allies possess an overwhelming offensive capability should North Korea repeat the mistake it made in June 1950. That's when the sire of the Kim hereditary dictatorship, Un's grand-daddy tyrant, Kim Il-Sung, completely underestimated U.S. resolve and launched the Korean War.

It is highly improbable that the missile attack plan was something slapped together last month. Odds are good the cities are genuine, calculated targets. Honolulu makes immediate sense. The North's missiles can already hit it, and it is President Barack Obama's hometown.

Los Angeles is a huge target area, ideal for missiles of questionable accuracy. Though not yet within range, it could be shortly. LA has millions of residents plus the icon targets of Hollywood and Disneyland. Washington is a no-brainer. North Korea can't hit the city, but threatening it puts nuclear bull's-eyes on U.S. leaders and America's capital. It's a personal and public tit for tat.

But why Austin?

The literal answer, and literal target, is South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co.'s Samsung Austin Semiconductor (SAS) manufacturing facility, located on Austin's north side. However, pinpointing the hometown of this facility is agitprop excess, for it tells us that the North Korean regime is aware of its own immense and tragic failure. Moreover, the thugs are ashamed.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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