9 January 2015 **** Front Page

Finland's choice between peace and conflict

By Tapani Lausti

In his New Year address the Finnish president Sauli Niinistö emphasized Finland's alignment with “the West”. Many other members of the Finnish elite have recently been emphasizing the country's adherence to “Western values”. The concept of “Western democracies” is used as if it was something self-evident and non-problematic. The most devout believers in this democracy explain that “for Europeans and Americans the belief in democracy, constitutional state and freedom is intrinsic. The foundation stone of our societies is the belief in equality for all and the basic rights of every person. The principles of the European and American way of life are based on these values.” (The Finns debate “Western values”)

If only! The deep anti-democratic trends in many Western countries and the EU are ignored. This quasi-religious frame of mind helps to explain the strange distortions which can be seen in the way the Finnish media explains the conflict in Ukraine. The almost total absence of any reference to the US's destabilizing role over many years is striking. Also, Finnish media has had little to say about the way the Kiev government troops and ultra-rightwing militias in Eastern Ukraine have bombed apartment buildings, schools and hospitals killing thousands of civilians. (Human Rights Ignored Amid NATO's War in Ukraine by Tony Cartalucci, New Eastern Outlook, 1 December 2014) No credence is given to Russian worries about the fate of the mainly Russian-speaking civilian population. Aid convoys are described as part of Russian aggression. No credible evidence has been produced about serious military intervention. It also has to be pointed out that some pro-Russian forces have been guilty of wanton violence which has caused civilian deaths.

Of course, Moscow has its own geopolitical interests in mind, but the naïve innnocence in the Finnish media about Western intentions is shocking. The US elites' openly declared interest in separating Ukraine from Russian sphere of interests and also destabilizing Russia's society is absent from Finnish reports. (From Energy War to Currency War: America's Attack on the Russian Ruble by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research, 26 December 2014; US Attempted Color Revolution in Russia? by Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 22 December 2014; The Liberal Idiocy on Russia/Ukraine by Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com, 22 December 2014)

Mainstream commentators love all speculation about Russian intentions and possible “provocations”. The increase of Russian military air traffic in the Baltic area creates headlines but the increase of NATO military activities in Eastern Europe gets very little coverage. Suspicion of Russian activities is understandable in view of Finnish-Russian history but there is no excuse for presenting a distorted view of reality.

Some Finns are beside themselves about evil "Putler" (Putin = Hitler). Barack Obama and the rest of US policy makers, on the other hand, get away with any horrors they inflict on the world. The annexation of the Crimea — whatever one thinks about its relation to international law — is a mild event compared to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya or US silence on Israeli atrocities in Gaza. International law? The US has long ago declared that it doesn't apply to them. Washington just likes to bring it up when their enemies' actions are questionable.

The good news from Finland is that according to polls the majority of the population does not consider Russia as a threat. The scare-mongering of the pro-NATO crowd seems to have failed at least to some degree. It may not be easy to live next door to a big power which can translate its geopolitical fears into unpleasant actions. But it is another matter to start provoking your big neighbour for no reason at all. Joining NATO would push Finland into the centre of an international crisis. The idea is that NATO membership would deter Russia from any aggression against Finland. This faith in the US's positive role ignores the historical evidence that the US is a destabilizing operator in world affairs. Given that the US's declared interest is to harm the Russian economy, it would be in Finland's interest to stay away from the “Empire of Chaos”, as the Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar describes America.

The archive
: Finland's foreign policy, Russia and Ukraine, Media, United States, Diana Johnstone


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