It is since quite a while so that my main production happens in/for the Facebook group “Political Psychology – Public group”, and if anybody should be interested, as the group is public anybody can have a look what is appearing there. But the decision of the Finnish government to buy the American jet fighter F-35 is a catastrophe of such a caliber that I feel like serving my ideas about it to ANY even remotely available audience.
The decision came reportedly about by discussions with “experts” behind closed doors, and if one looks who was announcing the decision to the public and celebrating it, among the “experts” were also some docents from some military academy. Well, even their presence did not provide an intelligent outcome. I do not deny that in technical and purely military terms the F-35 may be the best fighter on offer (and how much it will REALLY cost will only turn out over the years), but politically the decision was the proverbial visit of an (in this case berserk) elephant in a china shop:
When looking at the media, it seems that the second-best (thus, pretty good) fighter on offer was the Swedish Gripen. And also from the media I think I remember that TWICE there were rather recently visits by Swedish diplomats who were also indicating that they would wish rather much that Finland would opt for the Swedish fighter. Had Finland done so, it had got a good fighter plus very close-by a large area full of spare parts for this fighter and also full of technicians who are familiar with it and the methods how to keep it in shape, and this in a country which would have good reasons to be motivated to help Finland in the case of an attack from the East (because once Finland were lost, Sweden might be next …). And Sweden had got money to produce more of the fighter and also for developing it further in order to keep up with the general development of military technology. But no: in spite of all the beautiful words about Swedish-Finnish cooperation, the “experts” decided to buy at a producer who CERTAINLY does not have any lack of money, nor any special motivation to help just Finland (and in case that Trump should become president again, rather the opposite, as neither he nor other representatives of the Republican line will like that Finland looks in very many ways so much better that the USA in international comparisons). And a Republican government will ANYWAY presumably stick to the line “America First”, which would mean that it would not be interested in picking a fight with Russia about a nation whose inhabitants are very clearly fewer than those of New York City. And luckily (for them) the Article 5 of the NATO treaty does NOT really oblige NATO members to go to war if one of them should be attacked. Nor IS Finland a member of NATO – which is wise.
Because: It is not only Sweden to whom one has made it brutally clear that one is not really interested in what they have to contribute, but there is of course also Russia. Up to now Finland has (had?) a very long and very peaceful border with Russia, and Russia will not have liked that Finland (a) bought fighters which are EXTREMELY fit for just attacking (stealthily there, drop your bombs, stealthily back), and (b) by its decision also demonstrated very clearly its inclination to follow the lead of the USA (because, as not only the Russian government but any thinking consumer of the media will know, being a member of NATO is very easily understood by Western governments as an obligation to follow the USA into any military adventure which might come to the US mind – resulting in, e.g., German soldiers in Afghanistan, Polish soldiers in Iraq, and British soldiers ANYWAY wherever a US government might wish them to be – i.e. the NATO is VERY obviously NOT just an innocent pact for mutual defense and ONLY defense -, which does not hinder the military “experts” at all from being very much in favor of the idea of Finland joining NATO …).
Well, after having damaged the relations with Sweden (and the wider Europe) as well as with Russia, how much would those 64 jet fighters really be able to help in case of a conflict with Russia? Since World War II the big powers have added a number of things to their tools, e.g. satellites which make it possible for them to get very clear ideas where some country keeps, e.g., its jet fighters. Finland will presumably keep most of them in Kauhava (which is, wisely, pretty much as far from the Russian border as one can be in Finland). And Russia seems meanwhile also to have hyper-sonic missiles (i.e. missiles which fly faster than Mach 5, i.e. about 2 km/sec), so that Russian missiles could reach Kauhava in ca. 4 minutes. It is debatable how many fighters one could get into the air in 4 minutes (while the others will easily be destroyed on the ground) and how much effect the surviving fighters might still have in a serious war … . Should one say that even with those so very good fighters it might be better to continue being a reasonably good neighbor of Russia (which would include NOT to join NATO)? But for what to buy jet fighters if one anyway tries to avoid using them? Well, the UN might sometimes want some support from a nation willing to provide jet fighters for UN operations. But for such also Sweden’s Gripen would CERTAINLY have been good enough.
And still some political psychology: If one looks at Russia and its potential to produce (at least conventional) military equipment one will realize that Russia is basically pretty weak (which Putin presumably knows very well). And then it is to be reminded of the English term that somebody can occasionally “fight like a cornered rat” (and people who know rats, myself included, do know that to have to deal with such a rat in reality can be VERY unpleasant). Well, how to avoid having to do with such rats? One way would be to avoid cornering them. And that might also be true about bigger animals, such as “Russian Bears”. In history there was the case of the Emperor’s Germany which, according to various nationalist thinkers, was “surrounded by enemies” (in a way correctly, with Russia in the East and England & France in the West), and Japan, before attacking Pearl Harbor, had been pretty badly hindered in its plans by the USA. And now we have Russia which feels (presumably ACTUALLY) threatened by that ever-expanding and really not so peace-loving NATO. So that, if one does not want suddenly to have to do with a Russia which is fighting like a cornered bear, one should perhaps avoid supporting the nationalist bluster of new-born nations and rather remember this: at the time of the Soviet Union Finland had with it a treaty in which Finland was accepting the obligation to prevent attacks on the Soviet Union over Finnish soil. For Finland it was rather easy to keep to this, and while doing so it developed from a country which was building wooden sailing ships for the coastal traffic into a VERY much richer nation with a very pleasant living standard (I remember myself how much Helsinki has changed since 1972). Might such be a way for, e.g., Ukraine? It would not even be a serious hindrance to joining NATO (always taking care that NATO REALLY were a treaty for defense and ONLY defense – which would somehow have to be codified …). But if our military “experts” would really feel a strong need to do honorable deeds of arms, I would direct their attention towards the USA: if things there go as they go now it is not unlikely that there will soon erupt a civil war, in which case the Europeans can then think which side to support and by what means. For small Finland, though, it might be more practical to have some second thoughts about this jet fighter business: IF the contract about buying those F-35 fighters is perhaps not yet signed, could one perhaps delay the decision by, let’s say, one year? Because in 2022 there will be again elections in the USA, by which, among others, it may become clear whether they are really on the way to turn into something like Hitler’s Germany (in which case one should cancel the contract and do more for Europe) or, hopefully, not. And otherwise one has to hope that the Finnish government has learned (or will at least soon learn) that about important decisions one should perhaps listen what the military experts have to contribute, but that the DECISIONS are by far too important to be left to them.