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Remembering World War I

1. Today is Armistice Day. Americans celebrate it as Veterans Day, for the Polish it is Independence Day and quite a few Germans, who want to forget war, celebrate today instead as the beginning of the carnival season. What hedonistic, ignorant society we are.

2. Armistice Day is an appropriate term, as November 11, 1918 did not really bring an end to the "Great War," at least not lasting peace. Neither did the Treaty of Versailles. The world war was only really over on May 8, 1945. Thirty-one damn years.

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Best Music Videos for the US Elections

I have tuned out of the Republican presidential debates. Too much pandering, too much silly campaign rhetoric. I wrote about their statements on Europe, for instance in Gingrich, Romney rely on Eurobashing to "define their America" and "Europe" is a Dirty Word in the United States. I do, however, tune into official and unoffical campaign music videos.

Here are my three favorites so far in this election cycle: The best music video for a presidential candidate (Rick Santorum), the best video against a presidential candidate (Newt Gingrich), and the most bizarre one from a (former) candidate (Herman Cain).

1. While I don't agree with Rick Santorum's political views, I consider this the best music video for a presidential candidate. It helps me to better understand why so many Americans like him and why his campaign is so successful at the moment. The music video "Game On" by the band First Love, praises Rick Santorum's stands on faith, abortion, and manufacturing:

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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

The German "Obama Girl" Adores Steinmeier

The election campaign in Germany was pretty boring, but it got a bit more interesting in recent weeks as the opinion polls show some movement. Merkel will most likely remain chancellor, but its open whether she will govern with the Liberal Democrats, or have to continue to work with the Social Democrats. The latter gained a few percentage points in the polls in recent weeks.

And now, a German "Obama girl" has appeared. She sings that she has a crush on German Foreign Minister Steinmeier ("Steini") from the Social Democrats. Will everything change now? Is Steinmeier going to become chancellor after all? Nah, I doubt it. It's just funny that pretty cheap versions of Obama type campaigning are appearing now in Germany.

For a bit more seriousness have a look at the The Obama Check by the TapMag blog ranking German politicians' Obamaness.

Related post on Atlantic Review: Germans Learned Nothing from Obama