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Finlandization

The word Finlandization was created in 1953 by former Austrian Foreign Minister Karl Gruber as a warning example of relations with the Soviet Union. The French reference work, "Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse" [Larousse Encyclopedia] gives the following definition of the French term: "The total number of restrictions on self-determination that a great power imposes on a weaker neighbor." During the Cold War, the concept known as Finlandization referred to the fact that while Finland was nominally free of the Soviet Union, it was so threatened by Soviet Power that it could not act unilaterally without tempering its actions so as not to offend its giant neighbor, which could crush it at will.

American opinion of Finland was that it was "Finlandized", a term which the Finns didn't like much, because what it meant was a kind of forced relationship. For the most part Finns talked about "a good neighbor relationship" while the Soviets talked more about friendship.

The term was in vogue in talking about the potential Finlandization of West Europe. In the 1980s it was quite common for more or less well-informed West Europeans to use the term "Finlandization" freely, accompanied by a touch of either sympathy or condescension. The book "Le Syndrome Finlandais" [The Finnish Syndrome] by Alain Mine, dealt with Mine's concern about the future of West Europe. Mine stated succinctly: "We run the risk of being Finlandized without knowing it, marginalized without noticing it, being placed under guardianship without believing it." As a result of its interest in constantly expanding contacts with East Germany, the Federal Republic ran the risk of gradually relinquishing its obligations in the context of NATO and EC cooperation. If the Federal Republic slipped away, there would really be nothing left of West Europe, according to economist Alain Mine, an admirer of Germany and the leader of the French central federation of business employers.

Soviet political active measures -- for instance, propaganda campaigns, disinformation, and the sponsoring of Western peace movements - were seen by some as the means by which Soviet influence and power would gradually grow in Europe and US power declines until the states of Europe were effectively "Finlandized" and the United States became isolated. The Soviet Union was so much more powerful militarily than all of Western Europe and Japan put together that both of those areas - were it not forAmerican military presence and guarantees - could be "Finlandized," and Finland itself then would not be "Finlandized," it would be as much a satellite of the Soviet Union as any member of the Warsaw Pact.

The nature or the word Finlandization defied strict definition, as evidenced by the wide ranqe of interpretation given to it. Piere Hasner labeled it "a milder and more modern form of Sovietization", while Krosb defined it as "reconciling one's differences with the Soviet Union." Likewise, there existed a similar divergence of views between Finnish President Kekkonen, who simply said that the Finns don't deserve this label, that it is incorrect and unjust; and Richard Lowenthal, who used Finlandization to replace Communization as the Soviets goal toward West Germany.

Finland was a showcase of Soviet peaceful coexistence. It was a simnle matter to let the press ramble on with this fancy new word in their vocabulary with each use further convincing the Kremlin of their overwhelming control of their "showcase" in the north.

The problem of the defense of Leningrad involved Finland in local security issue for centuries. As Peter the Great's "W1;indow to the West," control of the approach over the Karelian Isthmus from Finland was deemed essential. This issue was finally resolved in 1940 after the Winter War when the Soviets absorbed this area which formerly constituted 12% of Finland.






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