Be all that you can be in (somebody's) army

In an inspired bit of YouTube surfing, Gawker has assembled a compilation of military recruitment commercials from around the world. There are a few clunkers -- three minutes is an awful long time to watch a Russian paratrooper sort of rapping in front of an obstacle course -- and I have my doubts that this Japanese ad is not an elaborate sophomoric hoax, but on the whole they make for pretty fascinating viewing.

Watching these as an American, the most immediately noticeable thing is how little time most of the ads spend overtly appealing to patriotism. There's Estonia, which does it cheekily, and Lebanon, which does it with a slow-motion sentimentality that would be cloying under other circumstances but is actually quite poignant in the context of a country that is eternally trying to keep things together. France and India, meanwhile, both hearken back to the U.S. military ads of the pre-9/11 era, in which we mostly see the life-advancing stuff that enlistment is supposed to get you, with a minimum of actual warfighting. (A career in the Indian army evidently prepares you for a lifetime of golfing and competitive diving.)

The Ukrainian army opts for an admirably straightforward "you'll get girls" approach. Singapore features a naval vessel transforming into a giant robot, presumably developed to contain the same giant lava monsters that have long plagued the U.S. Marines. Britain's jarring entry -- which a student of post-colonialism would have a field day with -- looks like it was directed by Fernando Meirelles. (This kind of "I dare you" approach to recruiting must work in the U.K. -- back in the '90s, when the U.S. Army was mostly promoting itself as a way to pay for college, the Brits ran magazine ads showing a Royal Marine eating worms as part of a survival training course.)

But the real winner here, I think, is Sweden, which is promoting military service to young women as a means of avoiding working as an au pair for awful Americans:



Iran paper update: Carla Bruni must die

Calling French First Lady Carla Bruni a prostitute for having the gall to defend a woman sentenced to death by stoning just wasn't enough for the hardline Iranian newspaper Kayhan. Tackling the subject again today (is this what passes for an Iranian newscycle?), they've condemned Bruni's adulterous ways and said that she, too, should face capital punishment:

Studying Carla Bruni's record clearly shows the reason why this immoral woman is backing an Iranian woman who has been condemned to death for committing adultery and being accomplice in her husband's murder and, in fact, she herself deserves to die.

Clearly the above picture -- Bruni with actor Owen Wilson -- is proof of Bruni's open soliciting of men (Does Sarko know?!?!). I wonder what Kayhan would say if they ever discovered Getty Images. Would it assert that Bruni's pictures with Woody Allen suggest that she is in line with the Zionist conspiracy to control the world through neurotic humor?

To be fair, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has chided Kayhan's recent editorial slant:

The policies, the manners and the comments of other countries' officials, we criticize them, we make objections to them and we call for them to review their deeds, but we don't think using inappropriate words and insulting words is the right thing to do.

There's still been no comment from the office of the French presidency.

*Update: The French Foreign Ministry has responded to the attacks:

We are letting the Iranian authorities know that the insults put out by the daily newspaper Kayhan and taken up by Iranian websites regarding several French personalities, including Mrs Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, were unacceptable.