The featured image is a mashup of the flags of Sweden, Finland, and NATO. I like mashups more than mashed potatoes, especially this one.
History was made yesterday at the White House when President Biden welcomed the leaders of Sweden and Finland to celebrate the Nordic nations’ NATO applications. This was unthinkable until Russia invaded Ukraine thereby making Vladimir Putin NATO’s star recruiter.
Sweden has stood neutral and aloof for 200 years. They stayed out of both World Wars, the Cold War, and have spurned alliances since the Napoleonic era. Vladimir Putin has accomplished something that neither Hitler nor Stalin could do, which makes him a fuckup of historic proportions. Putin can’t compare himself to Napoleon since Russia fought against the Gallic adventurer. That means Russian propaganda will resort to crude and empty threats in spinning this debacle.
The Finnish move is just as audacious. Finlandization is a word that was coined in the Sixties to describe the Soviet-Finnish relationship starting in 1939.
If that’s unclear, here’s the dictionary.com definition of the noun Finlandization:
1. the neutralization of a country in terms of its allegiance to the superpowers, in the way that the Soviet Union rendered Finland neutral and friendly without making it a satellite state or requiring that it adopt Communism.
2. such a neutral status pursued as a deliberate act of policy by a lesser power.
Since we’re dealing with the fog of history, how about a word cloud?
I love word clouds. Thanks for indulging me.
As Joe Biden said to mark another historic occasion, “This is a big fucking deal.”
There is, however, a fly in the ointment in the person of Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He’s threatened to veto the admission of the Nordic nations because they’ve expressed sympathy for the Kurds over the years.
Erdoğan made two demands yesterday at a presser on Monday:
…that Finland and Sweden end their supposed support for the Kurdish Workers’ party (PKK), which Turkey regards as a terrorist organisation, and that they lift their ban on arms exports imposed in October 2019 after the Turkish incursion in northern Syria.
It appears that Erdoğan is posturing and preening for domestic political purposes. This is SOP for the Islamist nationalist leader who, according to an expert quoted by the Guardian, “lives on the edge and operates through brinkmanship.”
That describes Putin’s modus operandi as well. It hasn’t worked out that well for Trump’s Russian pal and it’s unlikely to work for the Turkish president. Scapegoating is what nationalist strongmen do. The Kurds aren’t responsible for Turkey’s 66% inflation rate, that’s down to the pandemic and Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
I share the Greek dislike for the Turkish nation state, but I don’t blame individual Turks for their history of odious regimes; ethnic bigotry isn’t my bag. From the Ottoman Empire on, Turkey has been a rogue state despite its NATO membership. Germany has owned up to its genocidal past, Turkey has not. Props to Joe Biden for being the first American president to call the Turkish massacre of Armenians what it is: genocide.
I’m inclined to think that Erdoğan is doing what bullies do: bluffing to obtain concessions and to look strong at home. He’s an asshole, not an idiot. Russia is losing its war with Ukraine and creeps like Erdoğan don’t like to be on the losing side. He’ll eventually fall in line.
I wonder if NATO honcho Jens Stoltenberg plans to write a thank you note to Vladimir Putin. I’m considering thanking Vlad the Terrible for inspiring an alliterative post title and for allowing me to play amateur historian. It would be the polite thing to do but Putin and Erdoğan can still go fuck themselves.
The last word goes to Monty Python followed by the Divine Comedy: