Sunday, 19 October 2014

What to Do if Enemies Are Mapping out a Country for Conquest?

Recent activities in the Stockholm archipelago, coupled with prior infringements of Finnish air space and of course the unruliness in the Ukraine, have sent people wondering what the best response is if Russia might be aggressive towards its neighbours. The best response for leaders may well be to spruce up their countries' militaries, because if they are taken over these people will lose their positions of power.

I am not saying there is any risk of a Russian invasion of any parts of Scandinavia. These activities were observed during the Cold War as well and of course no invasion took place then. Rather, entering the waters and air spaces of other countries might serve to extract benefits by bullying other countries into concessions. Still, the political leadership in Scandinavia may well benefit from increased military preparedness, so as not to appear too weak while making such concessions.

For the citizens, however, the best response depends, as I have said before, on the likely changes in policy which come from a more aggressive Russia, and in the limit on the likely policy changes which come from Moscow Rule. It is not obvious to me that these changes are big enough to justify increased outlays on weapons and on training people to commit murder. It might be that the bulk of the citizenry actually favour more of this kind, but the bulk of the citizenry lack incentives to make informed judgements, so that would not be strong evidence in any direction.

Case in point: Finland used to be a part of Russia from its war with Sweden of 1808-1809 until 1917. For over a century, it would seem to me that Finland was not very "russified". Finland held autonomous status as a Grand Duchy during all of this time and as far as I know, most of, if not the only Russian spoken in Finland today is by the numerous Russian tourists coming in to see Helsinki or other pleasant places. I also believe that Finland could set its own rules regarding a great deal of foreign trade as well as taxation and many regulations, but I am no expert so don't quote me here. At least culturally, Finland today is Scandinavian and apart from the beautiful Uspenski Cathedral and some other buildings not Russian in the slightest, so the status as a Grand Duchy must have meant something substantial.

The situation with a more aggressive Russia is very unfortunate, but my impression is that it would be far less unfortunate if the outside world responded as one does when stumbling upon an angry wasp: Do not move, especially not suddenly. Alas, this is not what has happened with sanctions and condemnations taking up much space in the newspapers. Neither Finland nor Sweden is a member of NATO, but it would not surprise me if this were to change given how things are going.

I don't know, but I reckon it would be a lot harder for anyone to kill another person knowing he was committed to non-resistance. It seems to me that nonviolence has its appeal from the fact that it is rare indeed for it to lead to the death of its practitioners by slaughter of their adversaries, so maybe there would be less death and destruction if countries gave this strategy a try?

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