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NATO Television: New Website Offers Useful Information

NATO recently launched a new website through the Public Diplomacy Division called NATO TV.  The site has so far been producing front-line operational footage, interviews on NATO issues, press conference videos, an archive with footage going back to 1945, and more.

Undoubtedly much of the footage will be propaganda, though NATO is billing it as news and "the voice of 26 countries".  However, this propaganda may not be a bad thing, for at least two reasons:

•    First, there is a broad lack of understanding about NATO's role in the post-Cold War world, and reasonably so: today's threats are more complicated and nuanced than ever before, making NATO's role in responding to them more difficult to understand than when it had one main mission: deter a Soviet onslaught.  NATO TV increases transparency on NATO's activities and organization in an easily digestible format.

•    Second, while NATO has accomplished a lot historically, and continues to be a key Alliance for both Europe and the United States today, often the media (including yours truly) only highlight controversies or failures – “the only good news is bad news,” as they say. NATO TV will provide information on positive achievements.

As an example of a NATO TV product, the website is running a series that follows the daily life of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) located in Southern Helmand Province, part of the NATO International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).  I found the second episode (three of six parts have been released at the time of this post) to be the most interesting.  In it, Sergeant Ryan Messina provides the following quote on progress in Afghanistan from the perspective of a foot soldier:
When you see the way it was, and the effect you have on it, and the way it is now, it has a big impact on you as a person, you feel good about yourself, you feel like you have done something for these people.   
You can find the three videos released so far at the natochannel.tv website.

100 Million US-Americans Don't Vote

While the American primaries make the headlines on a daily basis even in our Swiss newspapers, more than a hundred million Americans usually don't vote, which means about 40% of eligible voters forego their right to elect who's to become (arguably) the most powerful political leader in the world. Find an interesting "mini-movie" about these missing voters here.

This is what the filmmakers write about themselves:

A year before the presidential elections of 2008 a crew of young European filmmakers goes on a journey all across the country in a little old motorhome to search for America’s missing voters. Who are they? Why don’t they vote? Can a young and fresh presidential candidate as Barack Obama make them vote? How would American politics change if more young people, single women, poor white people, African-Americans and Latino’s would start voting?

"You usually end up with [a] disproportionate number of minorities not voting and more young voters not voting," according to Project Vote, a  not-for profit organization that tries to get more people to vote. Also featured in the movie: Thomas E. Patterson, Harvard professor and author of the book The Vanishing Voter (Amazon.com; Amazon.de). His conclusion is very clear:

If you enlarge[d] the electorate in the US, you'd be pushing it to the left.

Historically, only 10-20 % of all eligible voters take part in the primaries that are occupying so much of our attention at the moment. Oh, and by the way, guess which country besides the US has a very low turn-out on election day? Correct: it's  Switzerland.