“The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers. The popular mind, unaware of the fine distinctions of the statesman’s thinking, reasons more often than not in the simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and absolute evil.” -Hans Morgenthau
Security dilemma for Finland
Finland has always been in a difficult geographical position, a nation state between the East and the West. Since World War II, policymakers have had the thorny task of striking the right balance in matters of foreign and security policies. From the days of the Paasikivi doctrine, we’ve come a long way. Even though we had a neutral policy towards the superpowers during the Cold War era, since joining the EU, in 1995, we are, in my opinion, irrevocably anchored in the western sphere of influence. Even the policy of a fixed currency regime can be traced back to the national interest of leaning towards the West. Ex post, it seems that policymakers did a rather decent job. Finland is a sovereign country, with a strong political commitment to the western values of justice, rule of law, democracy and liberal humanism. This should not be taken as granted.
Recent international events show that the days of power politics have not gone anywhere. They are back with a vengeance. Since the inception of NATO and the Warsow pact, international order has been based on the delicate balance of power between the United States, and the Soviet Union, nowadays of course Russia. Of course since then many countries have acquired nuclear capabilities and as such a strong deterrent, but in the big picture it seems the situation is once again more or less as it was pre-1989. History is alive and well. International order is shattered by the world events, espicially in Ukraine and in the Middle-East. Finland as small country in the power-periphery, should act accordingly.
What do we need to do?
First of all, I think we need to establish a Grand Strategy. The government of course prepares the Foreign and Security Policy Report (FSPR), most recent one in June 2016, but we need to prepare a Grand Strategy in order to integrate all government policies towards our national interests of peace and prosperity. Therefore we would need to merge our EU policies, EMU policies and foreign and security policies into one solid Grand Strategy. This would ensure that all policy tools work coherently together.
Second, given the current state of international affairs, I think we should join NATO as soon as possible. The United Kingdom is exiting the European Union; the EU is not militarily speaking as solid as it used to be. There is no binding collective security for us. We are on our own. Most of the EU members are in NATO anyways and we take part already in various joint operations. Article 5 is the best security guarantee there is. Some commentators say that NATO security guarantee is not credible. Failing to take joint action on the basis of Art 5 would destroy NATO and this is not in the interests of the US.
Third, we need to modernise our defence forces and increase our defence spending. Today, military strategy is a far more complex discipline as it used to be. Generals always fight the last war they say. Today we need speed, agility, readiness to deploy, adaptivity. And we need to hold on to our conscription -based armed forces.