Nearly a year ago I was writing a trilogy of articles for Helsinki Times outlining the problems and risks for Finland joining NATO.
Groupthink clearly prevailed when making the decision to join. Irving Janis who developed the concept years before warned that when decision makers look inward and invest in a perspective that is biased in favour of their own world view without sufficient recognition of other viewpoints, then it leads to poor and damaging decisions.
Military disasters and corporate failures line the road of groupthink.
However, all is not lost. ‘Always look on the bright side of life,’ so sayeth Monty Python who would be well positioned to replace their ‘Finland’ song with the ‘NATO’ song embracing the present machinations of Finland’s membership.
The fanfare surrounding the Government Report in April 2022 reassessing Finland’s security situation by the Government made no recognition of the potential opposition from Turkey and Hungary. The same experts are still advising.
The second citizen’s initiative to Parliament called for NATO membership to ensure the preservation of human rights. Yet Finland has already extradited one man back to Turkey. The bright side: He was supposedly a criminal.
Finland has already given the green light for military export licenses for products to be sent to Turkey, although since 2019 it had refused to do so given Turkey’s incursions into Syria. Yet back in 2019, Turkey’s army pension fund OYAK became a major shareholder in the Finnish steel producer Miilux that manufactures steel for military armoured vehicles. The bright side: So maybe the Finnish government is saving Finnish jobs.
Finland, unlike other Nordic states has declared there are limitations on the right to protest. Bright side: Burning books is unintelligent anyway.
Stoltenberg was saying how easy it was going to be for Finland to join NATO. The Estonian PM said it would be easy. Finnish politicians said it would be easy. Foreign politicians in a chorus of self-adulation said the Finns should join. Experts said it would be easy. Political groupings were set up to coordinate the Finnish / Swedish pursuit of NATO membership. Finnish and Swedish Ministers were in front of the media professing their joint commitment to pursuing membership. They coordinated their declarations to join in a celebration of a new dawn breaking. Perhaps this was the end of Finlandisation, or perhaps the beginning of a new hyper Westernised form of the concept. Bright side: we will be bowing towards the US for a change.
Still, if polls are to be believed, polling shows that Finns support their leadership in this endeavour, despite the unfolding challenges for Finland’s national security. Clearly the ordinary Finn is always looking on the bright side, after all they are the happiest people on earth!
Yet Finland has effectively alienated its Eastern neighbour. It is in the throes of abandoning its Western neighbour. How this contributes to strengthening Finland’s geopolitical position is intriguing. All in the belief that NATO will be the cavalry on the horizon that will come to Finland’s rescue. Yes, always look on the bright side. What happened with Nordstream might give an idea of what to expect.
Pulitzer Prize Winner Seymour Hersh has been muzzled by mainstream Western media when he reported that the USA, in collusion with certain other NATO members had blown up the Nordstream pipeline. In any other situation this would be seen as a declaration of war, by one ally against another - but it does not fit the narrative. So much for the cavalry coming to the rescue. Reporting that the USA blew up the pipeline is the biggest non-news in recent months. To think that the Russians would blow up their own pipeline when they can simply turn it off is mythical. The fallout from this is only just beginning.
But always look on the bright side: The Turks will probably acquiesce to Finland’s membership, but with what price for Finland? Finnish decision makers and experts were not exactly transparent or willing to discuss the dark side of NATO membership and the absence of scrutiny has been evident by its absence.
Professor Kimmo Rentola talked about the Machiavellian astuteness Finland followed when dealing with the Soviets. Such Machiavellianism is now being used with another neighbour… I wonder what adjectives the Swedes will use when Finland joins NATO and they are left in the cold, but I would advise them to always look on the bright side of life. After all, they may be saved from becoming a US subordinate.
Graham Wood has been a lecturer at the University of Helsinki for over thirty years. He gained his Executive MBA from Aalto and his PhD from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Helsinki University where he researched conflict and collective violence. He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK.
This is a "Viewpoint" opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of The Helsinki Times. This column is not fact checked and HT is not be responsible for any possible inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.