"What if we were now in NATO..."

NATO's invocation of Article Five — which makes a terrorist attack against the US an attack against every member country — has provoked some Finnish leader writers to ask the question, "what if we had now been a NATO member?" The implicit assumption is that Finland might be drawn into a conflict which has little to do with the country's security interests.

The Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet (14 September 2001) asks whether anyone believes that in a NATO ambassadors' meeting, Finland could have been the only member expressing a dissenting view. Continuing this theoretical scenario, Hufvudstadsbladet says that the Finnish parliament would probably be under strong global pressure not to break ranks.

The editor of the regional daily Turun Sanomat (15 September 2001), Aimo Massinen, writes in his column that if the US demands that NATO participates in fighting, for instance bombing Afghanistan — which is said to be protecting Osama bin Laden — "it would be interesting to hear how many NATO enthusiasts there might be left in Finland". Massinen points out that after revenge strikes, every NATO country would be an enemy in the eyes of terrorists and thus the next target for terrorism.

Massinen goes on to ask whether one might be expected to risk one's country and life in this fight between good and evil. He himself prefers to defend Finnish values, democracy and humanity using peaceful methods.

The national daily Helsingin Sanomat (14 September 2001) reminds readers that most EU countries are also NATO members.

"Finland and Sweden are not and may still feel great relief because of this, if the United States begins to demand that NATO participates in the fighting against alleged terrorist bases far outside Europe."

Helsingin Sanomat says that invoking Article Five in the fight against terrorism would easily make every NATO country seem an enemy in the eyes of terrorists.

"Individual NATO countries, especially small ones, would find it practically impossible to pretend to be anything but United States' ally."

An editorial in Turun Sanomat (14 September 2001) expresses concern about invoking NATO's Article Five. The newspaper fears that if the culprits really turn out to be in the Middle East and among Muslim fanatics, a spiral of revenge might ensue.

"This opens a horrible scenario of the West and Islamic world confronting each other armed. If this spiral becomes reality, even the United States' allies will find it difficult to stay out of it."

Turun Sanomat also points out that in his enthusiasm about revenge strikes, Bush has failed to realise that terrorism does not appear from thin air.

"There are always reasons. Punishing terrorists is only dealing with symptoms, whilst the task really is to find out the factors which have made terrorists what they are and then eliminate these reasons. Also the United States, with its own behaviour — not necessarily always knowingly — has provoked hatred. Understandably, however, the world's only superpower finds it difficult to admit its own shortcomings."


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