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The United States Has the Best Military Advertisements

Cohu (via German Joys) compares recruiting videos from the German, Austrian and Ukrainian military and also includes a beer company's video ad that is promoting the US military.

While the Ukrainian video is ridiculous, the Austrian copy-cat version is just stupid. The Bundeswehr clip is a typical commercial highlighting the fun aspects of serving in the military, while ignoring everything else.

The American clip is by far the most effective advertisement in my opinion (and cohu's) and did not cost the taxpayer anything. The video shows how Americans appreciate the service and sacrifices of their troops and shows how glad they are that the soldiers made it back home. No triumphant atmosphere. The clip is so low-key and appears authentic and honest. All the mess the soldiers had to live through is somehow included in the atmosphere. That makes it honest and patriotic and an effective promotion. Just my opinion, of course.

Does Germany need such videos showing appreciation? Would such messages work in Germany and increase support for the Bundeswehr's mission in Afghanistan?

Can you imagine a German beer company making such an advertisement with soldiers returning from Afghanistan? (BTW: The Bundeswehr consumed 990,000 liters of beer in Afghanistan in 2007.)

The NY Times's Nicholas Kulish writes that what is happening in Germany is the opposite of what the US commercial shows. There are "no parades for Hans":

Often, as I have passed through the main train station here in the German capital, I have seen the sad, lone figure of a soldier, heavy pack on his back, waiting for a train like the rest of us, but separated from the crowd by the uniform he wears. No one would stop to thank him for his service or to ask whether he had been deployed to Afghanistan. The loneliness was obvious, but at times I even sensed what I thought might have been fear, at the occasional hostile looks the soldier would receive alongside the impassiveness of the broader masses on the platform, who just tried to pretend he wasn't there. (.)

The German men and women in Afghanistan set off for war without the support of the populace, and they know that when they return there won't be crowds cheering in the streets, ready to make heroes of them. Germany has turned its back on hero worship. The soldiers fight alone.

What are the most and the least effective military advertisements you have seen? I am most interested in honest, authentic and or funny ones, like the Danish Norwegian KFOR Boys. Yes, sure, post anti-military advertisements as well, if you like, but no gory stuff, please.

Endnote: This is a great photo contest to increase public support: Why Afghanistan Matters

NATO foreign ministers meeting press round-up

NATO foreign ministers gathered in Brussels on December 2 for a two-day meeting.  The full final communiqué released by NATO can be found here

The ministerial focused primarily on the future of NATO enlargement (particularly Ukraine and Georgia), US plans for missile defense in Europe, relations with Russia (strongly related to the previous two issues), and ongoing operations (mostly on Afghanistan and to a lesser degree Kosovo). Here is a roundup of articles that address the key outcomes of the ministerial:

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President Obama and Europe

David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International and a volunteer for Senator Obama's presidential campaign, discusses in the following guest blog post the likely development of transatlantic relations in an Obama presidency:

Recently Stern Magazine polled German readers concerning who they supported in the US primaries in the race for president.   Barack Obama was the clear preference.  You could say that Obamamania has gripped Europe just as it has much of America.  Many Germans share the view of Elmar Brok - a German member of the European Parliament- that "Obama's candidacy is romantic".

But would an Obama administration meet the expectations of his European fans?  Or is this a case of "be careful what you wish for" and the reality of a President Obama will disappoint? 

Obama has said very little about his views on Europe and transatlantic relations.  The focus of his campaign has understandably been on his plans to end the war in Iraq and his policies for addressing the economic meltdown in the US.  But he has written and spoken enough about foreign policy to provide some clues on his approach to Europe:

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Russian News: Less Objective than in the West?

The Moscow News Weekly has published an article on Kosovo's declaration of independence, which from its tone I assumed was in the "Comment/Opinions" section.  However, it turns out it was actually in the "World News" section.  Here is a snippet:
While burning KFOR checkpoints may not be the best of ways for Kosovo's ethnic Serbian minority to express its anxiety and anger over recent events, global democratic leaders should think twice before voting to award a chair to Kosovo on New York's East River. In the Basque country, Quebec, Belgium, northern Cyprus, Georgia and many other places across the globe, they have TV sets, too, and are watching. Telling them Kosovo is different and unique won't work. That's the price you pay for being a hypocrite, I guess.

Not to say western newspapers are completely objective, but at least you can read multiple perspectives on a story on this side of the Urals, without worrying about whether your favorite columnist may mysteriously die one day.

Of course this is only one article in one newspaper; it may not be fair to judge the entire Russian media based on this article alone. To get a better idea of press freedom trends globally and by country, you can check out an annual report produced by Freedom House titled "Freedom of the Press."  The 2007 version reported this for Russia:

Media freedom in Russia continued to be curtailed in 2006 as President Vladimir Putin’s government passed legislation restricting news reporting and journalists were subjected to physical violence and intimidation. Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, authorities are able to use the legislative and judicial systems to harass and prosecute independent journalists.

Are Europeans Hiding in the Bush, or is Transatlantic Panacea to Come?

There has been speculation on both sides of the Atlantic about whether America’s next president will be able to revitalize the acidulated transatlantic partnership.  Con Coughlin has captured a common sentiment in an op-ed published by the Telegraph:
Whether it is a Republican… or one of the two remaining Democrat contenders… none of them will arouse anything approaching the level of controversy and hostility that has been caused by President George W Bush's seven-year tenure.
President Bush has certainly been a divisive figure, both in policy and style.  However, it is hardly a foregone conclusion that there will be a panacea in transatlantic relations once Bush decamps.  As suggested by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in a recent interview with Spiegel Online, transatlantic differences run deeper than one administration:
SPIEGEL: Isn't German and European opposition to a greater military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of American power?

KISSINGER: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity of President Bush.
Kissinger brings to mind a good question: has European hostility toward the US been solely the response to poor leadership by Bush, or is there a more fundamental schism in the Alliance?

Crispin Williams weighs in at Social Europe Blog, arguing that Bush has left a scar on transatlantic relations that will not easily heal:
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Would the Democrats Cut Defense Spending?

Our reader Pat Patterson commented last night:

And if anyone seriously believes that either of the two Democrats aspiring to be president are actually going to cut defense spending then I own a bridge in Brooklyn...

I might be interested in this bridge. Here are three reasons:

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Where Next for Serbia?

The Atlantic Review is pleased to present a guest article by Professor Stefan Wolff, from the University of Nottingham. 

Professor Wolff addresses the Serbian elections that took place over the weekend, and explains that while the pro-western candidate has won the elections, the future of Serbia is far from certain.

sss eewFor many voters and observers, there were two surprises in Sunday's second round of presidential elections in Serbia. The first one was that the current president, Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party, won, if only by the slightest of margins. Even among his supporters, this was far from a certain result, but they welcomed it all the more enthusiastically. The second, and perhaps greater surprise was equally welcome: Tadic's challenger, Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Radical Party (whose leader Vojislav Seselj is currently in The Hague being tried for war crimes committed during 1992-5 war in Bosnia) quickly accepted defeat and congratulated his victorious opponent.

With Tadic--pro-western and pro-democratic in orientation--confirmed in office for another term, all the signs should point clearly to Serbia catching up with its neighbours in the process of economic and democratic reform, as well as closer ties with the European Union, which, after all, was the central message of Tadic's campaign: "Together we'll conquer Europe." Yet, Serbia's future course is far from clear. Three predominant factors account for this continuing uncertainty:

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Sarkozy Makes Premature, Unnecessary, Familiar Statement on Kosovo

Nicholas Sarkozy stated last weekend that the issue of Kosovo's independence, "is not an affair of Mr. Bush or Mr. Putin, but one of Europe." (Le Figaro, in French). Another article by John Ward Anderson in the Washington Post reports:

"Kosovo's independence is inevitable," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters after the summit. "It's an issue for Europe to sort out."

Does Sarkozy mean to say that despite a recent history thick with US political and military engagement in the Balkans, Kosovo is now strictly a European issue? Has Sarkozy forgotten so quickly that the United States bailed out Europe in the Balkans even after the 1991 declaration by Luxembourg's foreign minister Jacques Poos that "This is the hour of Europe?"

Joerg recently cited the Jacques Poos quote in an Atlantic Review post he titled "Kosovo: Is the EU Home Alone in the Balkans?" Perhaps another question is, "Kosovo: Whose House is it?"

What is the benefit for Sarkozy or the EU of preemptively decrying American support, especially when the US and EU strategy for Kosovo seem to be in sync? Why not declare this the "hour of the allies" or the "the hour of cooperation", or perhaps be more candid: "this is the hour we will hopefully not f*** up again in the Balkans, but if we do we are glad to have our American friends to back us up?"

Sarkozy's statement is particularly frustrating to America's proponents of transatlantic cooperation, because it is exactly the type of churlish bombast that leads American Europhobes to argue that the pubescent EU Common Foreign and Security Policy aims to build the EU as a counterweight to the United States, rather than as a stronger ally.