Saturday, April 5, 2008

<i>Absolut</i> Insult

I don't drink vodka, but if I did I'd never touch a drop of Absolut vodka after they pandered for Mexican business with this ad touting an absolut (perfect) world:

The really sad thing about this ad is that the map reportedly came from John McCain's office. Anyway, the story behind the ad can be found here. One commenter notes that Mexicans don't really want to push the border this far north. It'd mean they'd have to travel further to sneak in.

Just kidding, by the way, about McCain and the map.



A friend e-mails that he saw a billboard in Michigan that read something like this:


-- Military personnel killed in Iraq: 4,000

-- U S. citizens murdered in the country: 83,500

-- U. S. citizens killed in auto accidents: 210,000

-- U. S. citizens killed in home accidents: 340,000

-- Infants killed in their mother's wombs: 6,400,000

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the statistics, but they sound about right. Isn't it just a little bit ironic that judging by the amount of attention in the media some of the same people who are most outraged over the first statistic seem only perfunctorily concerned about the next three and are zealously committed to perpetuating the last?


Europe Needs Us

Europe needs America, argues Martin Kettle in the Guardian. The one thing worse for Europe, he writes, than fighting a war with America as an ally would be to fight one without America:

Although the defects and failures of the current [European] strategy are obvious, the only serious alternative to the unilateral bring-the-troops-home mentality is to try to get the existing strategy to evolve into something more credible, shared and effective. The next US president will certainly press that case. Nicolas Sarkozy certainly had a stirring answer to it when he told the assembled houses of parliament this week that the return of the Taliban and al-Qaida to Kabul was unacceptable and that France was therefore, albeit belatedly, committing a thousand troops to Kandahar. But how many European nations are prepared to follow suit?

For years now, Nato nations have been committed to reach a minimum defence spending target of 2% of GDP. Yet 20 of them, including Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, have fallen far short. Among the six that have reached the target, the shares of four (including Britain and France) are in decline. Inevitably, that means the US carries ever more of the load and becomes ever more sceptical about taking Europe seriously.

For years also, European nations have talked about the importance of avoiding duplication in equipment and weapons. But the talk has largely remained just that. It is barmy that Europeans have four different models of tank, compared with America's one; 16 different types of armoured vehicles as against America's three; or 11 types of frigate to America's one. Once again, Europe's failure highlights the US predominance.

As Kettle says, the U.S. is carrying much of the financial burden of NATO which has essentially been a free-rider since WWII. It would be well for the critics of America's generosity abroad, both domestic and especially European, to keep this in mind when next they're tempted to complain about our relatively "meager" contributions to things like tsunami relief efforts, etc.