Finland's War - Afghanistan

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Finland's War - Afghanistan

Postby Penguin » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:49 am

This story is slightly dated, followed by next post with latest updates.
Also yesterday a researcher from foreign policy research institute stated that now Finland is at war, even thou the political leadership refuses to admit this. Today Stubb (FM) and Häkämies denied this vehemently. Good for them, war it is.

Two days ago, finnish and swedish soldiers were involved in the worst firefight in their time, swedes killing 3 and injuring several afghans. Finns did not yet fire upon the attackers but gave support to the swedes. Now there is an ongoing public discussion about what the fuck Finland is really doing in Afghanistan, most comments Ive seen are calling attention to the situation, and asking if the real reason we are there is to get into Nato against the wishes of the people. Also this is the first war Finland is involved after WW2 outside clear peacekeeping missions.

This push to Nato is also a major reason I refused the mandatory military service in my time, and did community service for a year instead.

Our leading parties politicians are saying it is not a war but a UN mandate. The same parties are currently also involved in a corruption and election funding scandal, and notoriously pro-Nato (like Alexander Stubb, who is also publicly anti-russian, especially regarding the South-Ossetian Nato/US provocation last summer.)

Helsingin Sanomat is the largest newspaper here, and is partly affiliated with Murdochs media empire - the HS owner family Erkko members have been in Murdochs businesses boards, and visited Bilderberger meetings as well. HS was a major media supporter of the Iraq war too here, and their stance is pro-US and pro-Nato generally - so this article reflects on that too - a rather bland stance, ignoring any realities deviating from the official line, especially regarding the situation with drugs (and omitting mentions of the US-Taleban historical relations)

http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Afghan ... 5246952149

(Typos all in the original)

By Tanja Vasama

A dozen cargo containers stand in a warehouse. A look inside them would reveal piles of goods from maps to helmets, from soap to protective vests, from computers to office paper, from sleeping bags to clothing, weapons, and ammunition.

There’s nearly everything that a Finnish soldier needs, but they are not for use in Finland.

The containers have been sealed. With the exception of one box which is still waiting for more medicines, they are waiting to get on the move.

From the warehouse of the Utti regiment, they will first be taken to Tampere. From there the containers, and about ten armoured vehicles, will be flown in a Russian cargo plane to the war-torn country of Afghanistan.

In early July the goods will be followed by 86 Finnish peacekeeping soldiers. They are the additional force that the Finnish Parliament decided to send to Afghanistan to help keep peace during the Presidential and local elections there in August. The additional forces will reinforce the group of about 110 Finnish peacekeepers, who are already serving in Finland’s most demanding crisis management operation so far.

“The mission is to support Afghan security officials in securing the elections”, says Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Mättölä, the Chief of Staff at Utti. He will command the latter group of the soldiers leaving from Utti.

The mission of the additional force is short and clear-cut.

However, the goals of Finnish actions in Afghanistan in other respects have been left unclear to many Finns, including Finnish decision-makers.

Seven years ago Finland went to Afghanistan to help build democracy. Now it finds itself in the middle of a war led by the NATO military alliance, where the Finnish peacekeepers have also come under attack.

The foreign affairs committee of the Finnish Parliament has long been calling on the government go present a consistent Afghanistan strategy:
“The work to stabilise Afghanistan, which is valuable as such, would need the support of clear political guidance, which would give answers to questions including those of why Finland is taking part in Afghan crisis management and reconstruction, what results Finland expects from its activities, and what activities would be best for Finland to concentrate on”, the committee demanded last year.

No satisfactory answer has come. Not even though it is the government’s obligation to give one, notes foreign affairs committee chairman Pertti Salolainen (Nat. Coalition Party).

Finland is currently taking part in support missions in NATO’s ISAF operation in the north of Afghanistan. Under the same ISAF flag, Western forces are taking part in an open war against Afghan rebels in the south of the country. Large numbers of civilians are dying constantly in the fighting. Local hostility against Western forces is growing.

Democracy-building seems to be a very remote dream in this situation.

So what exactly are we doing in Afghanistan?

The destination of the additional Finnish force is the Swedish-led base Camp Northern Lights in the city of Mazar-I-Sharif, which is where most of the Finns who are currently in Afghanistan are deployed.

About half of the additional force are professional soldiers based in Utti. The other half, from the Pori Brigade, will be composed mainly of future reservists nearing the completion of their time as conscripts.

The city of Mazar-i-Sharif and the provinces that surround it are as peaceful as any place in Afghanistan is at present. The north has never been a strong area of the Taleban.

However, in recent years Taleban fighters have spread to the north as well. In addition to them, violence is spread by local warlords and drug merchants.

From the peacekeepers’ point of view, the extremist movements and the criminal groups are equally serious threats.

“It is an academic question, who has set the roadside bomb. The risks are considerable. In the north, there are bomb threats on a monthly, if not a weekly basis”, Mättölä says.

Two years ago the Finnish operation suffered its first, and so far only casualty, when a roadside bomb killed Sergeant Petri Immonen in the northern Faryabi province. The Finnish force was commanded at the time by Ari Mättölä.

Now Mättölä says that the first Finnish casualty was a wake-up call.
“Until then the Finns had been somewhat naive about the whole Afghanistan operation.”

During Mättölä’s seven-month deployment in Maimana, three other bomb attacks were directed against Finnish vehicles. Nobody was hurt in any of them.

Mättölä notes that several soldiers could have been killed in each one.

In fact, Finland has made it through Afghanistan with surprisingly few casualties. Nearly 1,200 Western soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

The risks have been analysed in Utti as well. There is a formula in use according to which the security of the forces is 60 per cent dependent on training, and 30 per cent on equipment. Then there is a so-called unknown factor, which accounts for the remaining ten per cent, which is not necessarily in anybody’s control.

“I feel quite safe about the 60 and 30 per cent”, says one captain who is going to Afghanistan for the first time.

The captain’s name or photo cannot be published. Only the commanders of the operation appear under their own names. Islamic extremist groups have contacts that extend into Europe, Mättölä says. There have been indications that soldiers would have been the targets of some kinds of surveillance activities.

“There have been isolated cases in the Nordic Countries in which the families of peacekeepers have been intimidated.”
Mättölä will not say anything more specific.

Once in Mazar-I-Sharif, the Utti unit will focus on patrolling: maintaining contact with the Afghans, gathering information, and preventing possible attacks planned by the rebels.

The Finns have learned a few phrases as pleasantries for the local people , and whenever the situation permits it, the Finns will take off their helmets as a sign of trust.

They are expected to smile, and to sit down with people and have tea. Finnish soldiers need to concentrate on treating women serving the tea as if they were air - that is what the local men do. A show of attention from a strange man would be an affront.

Villagers are to be asked about their everyday concerns and their possible security concerns.

“The contact is easily established. Interest toward us is so great”, says one sergeant who is going. He returned from his previous tour in Afghanistan about a year ago.

“But as for how much real information we get, we will have to be very cautious”, Mättölä adds.

Local people will not tell foreigners everything.
Sometimes a patrol will last a day, and sometimes several days. In the evenings when all patrols are at their bases, soldiers on leave will be allowed to consume the two beers that they are entitled to under the “peacekeeper’s sauna beer allotment”.

However, the peacekeepers do have other things to do besides relaxing and drinking tea.

“The task of the Finnish crisis management operation is to support the democratic reconstruction of Afghanistan and the development of the security situation”, Mättölä says.

In addittion to building democracy, the Finns are trying to advance human rights, especially the position of women. This means, for instance, the construction of schools and health clinics.

This year Finland plans to spend about EUR 30 million on crisis management, civilian crisis management, and development cooperation funds.
Finland can certainly not be faulted for having excessively modest goals. The reality lags far behind the goals. The foundations of democratic administration have been established after the fall of the Taleban, but the Afghan administration is very corrupt, and its power in the provinces is weak.

The Sheberghan women’s prisoń, which was financed by Finland, and which proved to be a brothel where the inmates were compelled to have sex with customers, is one extreme example of how sharply Finland’s good intentions can be with everyday life in Afghanistan.

So are Finland’s goals realistic in any way?
“The task does feel like a mountain standing in front of us”, says MP Salolainen.
A challenge indeed, but not hopeless, says former MP Ulla Anttila (Green), who is writing a doctoral thesis on crisis management. “It is significant to assess what kind of an impact Finnish activities can have.”

Taking a more sceptical view is Jaakko Limnéll, a teacher at the Department of Strategy at the Finnish National Defence College.
“I have to say that the goals are very difficult to achieve.”

The same has been noticed by the Untied States, the leading country of the Afghanistan operation. The USA has just given up on the spread of democracy in its own strategy.

That is a massive change: The agenda of President George W. Bush, who invaded Afghanistan specifically included implanting democracy in the old-style tribal society.

“We have a clear and focussed goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda”, declared President Barack Obama this year. For Obama it seems to be enough that the terrorists would not get a foothold in Afghanistan.

One of the reasons for Obama’s election victory last year was his promise to take US forces out of Iraq and to move them to Afghanistan. This summer the US will increase its forces in Afghanistan by 21,000. It hopes that the additional forces will calm the country more efficiently.

At the same time, an exit strategy from Afghanistan is being sought, and this requires that the goals be kept sufficiently modest, so that they might be seen to have been achieved some day. That is why democracy has been pushed into the background.

As Europe does not want to send the additional forces to Afghanistan for combat duty, as the United States has asked, the USA is leaving the construction of the nation on the shoulders of the Europeans, for all practical purposes. Without the support of the united States, the establishment of a country under the rule of law in Afghanistan is nevertheless an impossible task.

However, nobody will be able to pull out of Afghanistan any time soon.

The whole idea that the international community should pack up and leave all of a sudden would be quite irresponsible. For selfish reasons alone, if Afghanistan were left to fend for itself, terrorism and the drug trade could spread. The consequences could be felt in Europe, too.

“If we think of the humanitarian reasons why we once went there, they still exist. Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries, and the Afghanis have a right to peace, after many years of war. The international community has a responsibility for that, and Finland cannot just say so long”, Anttila points out.

This bearing of responsibility is how Finnish leaders have repeatedly justified participation in Afghanistan.

But why does Finland feel such great responsibility specifically for Afghanistan, and not Darfur, for instance?

Jaakko Limnéll has a more prosaic idea of why Finland is taking part in the operation.

“The most important reason is that other Western countries, among whom Finland wants to be in a security policy sense - are strongly involved in Afghanistan. For that reason, it is almost impossible for Finland to be absent”, Limnéll says.

However, this is not an explanation that will be heard from the mouths of Finland’s political leaders. Limnéll has a clear explanation for this.

“The security policy relationship between Finland and the United States is so strongly linked with NATO membership and the NATO debate. It is a difficult topic. Involvement in Afghanistan is more easily justified for humanitarian reasons.”

In fact, Limnéll says that European countries are no longer as interested in operating in Afghanistan as much as they are in good relations with the new US administration. He feels that a clear sign of this is that many European countries have sent at least some kind of additional force, or other, to Afghanistan for the elections.

The same applies to Finland. We are there so that we might be in good stead with the United States. Seven years ago Finland went to Afghanistan to help build democracy. Now it finds itself in the middle of a war led by the NATO military alliance, where the Finnish peacekeepers have also come under attack.

“But it is a sensitive matter”, Limnéll says.

Humanitarian responsibility, stopping violence and the drug trade, and pleasing the United States. These are reasons that are sure to keep Finland in Afghanistan for now.

But from the point of view of the Finnish Defence Forces, there is still another important reason for the Afghanistan operation: it improves readiness for the defence of Finland.

“This is a unique situation for us, in that we will get to train part of our wartime forces. That part will get to operate as close to wartime conditions as is possible”, Mättölä says.

However, the risks are the risks of a real war.

The United States proposed to European countries last week that the additional forces should be kept in Afghanistan for a longer period of time. Minister of Defence Jyri Häkämies (Nat. Coalition Party) has already shot that idea down.

Ali Mättölä, who is preparing for his departure from Utti, has not concerned himself with whether or not the goals of the Afghanistan operation are clear. He is a soldier, and thinking about reasons why is the job of politicians. And at least for the additional forces being deployed to secure the elections, there is nothing unclear about the mission:
“The goal is that by early November, we and the materiel will be away from the area.”

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 14.6.2009


Previously in HS International Edition:
Häkämies: Additional forces to Afghanistan only for election (12.6.2009)
New US strategy has Finland reconsidering goals in Afghanistan (6.2.2009)
Finland ignored warnings of prisoner prostitution in Afghanistan (14.5.2009)
Prostitution alleged to be taking place in Finnish-funded Afghan prison (7.5.2009)
Parliament approves additional forces to Afghanistan (9.3.2009)

TANJA VASAMA / Helsingin Sanomat
tanja.vasama@hs.fi

16.6.2009 - THIS WEEK
Afghanistan: Now it’s Finland’s war, too
Niinistö: NATO membership awaits at end of European road

http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Niinis ... 5246953073
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Postby Penguin » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:54 am

I fear that only a bad attack against finnish troops might push it overboard and make it impossible politically to continue to support that war - making clear it is a war we are supporting, and not some humanitarian peace keeping operation, as claimed.

Even now a clear majority of people would both like to pull out, do not want to get into Nato, and over 80% in gallups would like to see the present Vanhanen government resigning over the election funding / corruption mess.

http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/dome ... power.html

http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/dome ... stan-.html

http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Follow ... 5245796829

(edited for callousness)
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Postby RocketMan » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:20 am

In my opinion, the best thing that could happen now might be a catastrophic attack on finnish soldiers. Not that Id like to see them die, but an event like that might push it overboard and make it impossible politically to continue to support that war.


Careful, now. We wouldn't want to stoop to the rationalizations of the PTB. Also, wishing for a "catastrophic attack" amounts to the same as wishing for people to die, does it not?
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Postby Penguin » Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:30 pm

You are absolutely correct, and right to say so.

Yes, I should have worded that differently, that is not quite what I meant (I wrote that in a hurry in a cafe and didnt read it twice) - my idea was that it seems to be all fun and games so far - "its good to get some war experience for our troops", as the commander of the troops there said above. A brother of a friend almost went there as well, luckily did not make the group leaving in the end - thou he was excited about going.
I don't wish anyone to die, I wish they would all get back, now. I just fear it will not happen before things get worse over there.

What I was getting at is that the reasons given for being there are not compatible with the reality of the situation, and that will explode in their faces sooner rather than later. I think people would not like seeing finnish soldiers come back dead. Most of the previous peace keeping missions have usually gone without anyone firing a shot - a neutral troop presence after cease fire, between the hostile parties - not in an active warzone like this. Now there is no way to claim neutrality - its ass licking time, sadly.

I know many people who have been in peace corps before, and finns usually have had a great reputation with the locals, and very little scandals or the sort. Most had only positive experiences of it.

(I edited the original post, thank you for that)
(lately, Ive been feeling angry at something shapeless, for some reason, and I see it affects me. I don't like that feeling)
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Postby Searcher08 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:13 pm

I think it is really important that Finland support the war.
Generations of Islamofascists are on the record as being against Finnish freedoms. They wish to stop Finns from drinking so much coffee and ban vodka. They have said they will take away anything with Nokia written on it and will hang Sibelius CDs from trees. They have said they will behead all blond Finns as being blond is a mark of Satan. NBFs (NonBlondFinns) will have to wear towels on their heads.
These people have invaded Finland before from their mountain caves and they killed everyone here. They were big and fat and hairy and scary and stinky. They ate everyone they killed.
They will invade us and eat us again.
If Finland doesn't fight these people, the whole of Scandinavia will fall before the end of the year. Then the rest of Europe will die, die screaming.
Thank you Finland

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Postby 8bitagent » Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:22 pm

Penguin wrote:I fear that only a bad attack against finnish troops might push it overboard and make it impossible politically to continue to support that war


I have a feeling Obama's airstrikes in Afghanistan could kill thousands more Afghans(and Pakistanis), hundreds more US soldiers could die, and the braindead American mainstream left would be continuing to support the effort as a "justified war"

Since Norway loves to protect the worst of the Iraq suicide bomber squad leaders, Im surprised they dont have more troops in there
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Postby RocketMan » Sat Jul 25, 2009 6:12 pm

Penguin, I hear you, sir.

I kind of knew what you were aiming at, yet still felt I had to set the record straight.

It's chilling how the Finnish are slowly being weaned to accept the responsibilities of the American empire. And how easily the Finnish are falling for it. It's "Finnlandisierung" all over again, I'm afraid.
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Postby Penguin » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:59 am

RocketMan wrote:I kind of knew what you were aiming at, yet still felt I had to set the record straight.

It's chilling how the Finnish are slowly being weaned to accept the responsibilities of the American empire. And how easily the Finnish are falling for it. It's "Finnlandisierung" all over again, I'm afraid.


Good that you did.

Wonder how well people would have taken Soviet Union asking for help over there... This is the same situation, basically. Except the USSR had more right to be there, after all, they were asked by the elected government.

I guess this phase started with Aho and Lipponen governments, taking us into EU and starting the privatization train in the society around the last depression in the 90s.

What still annoys me no end is that Lipponen was able to promise Bush Finlands support for Iraq war, without telling the government or the parliament - illegally. And then got no kinds of consequences, none at all - but Jäätteenmäki was forced to resign over the leaking of that secret info (and then lying about the source thou, to parliament) about Lipponen's illegal promises to Bush.

And Lipponen would make a great EU president, I hear. :roll:

Aho, from 1991 to 1995. He is best known for leading Finland into the European Union. Aho's own party, gaining most of its support from rural areas, opposed the EU membership, but was persuaded behind it due to prime minister's diplomacy. Aho's government faced also the deep economic depression of the early 1990s. Its stringent cut-and-save policy and its plans to lower unemployment rate made it unpopular, which partly caused its fall in the 1995 election and Centre Party's eight-year period in opposition.

Esko Aho lost the bid for President of Finland to Tarja Halonen in 2000. After that he retired from active politics in the early initially through a "sabbatical leave" of one year to lecture at Harvard University. In the 2003 election he left parliament and retired from daily politics. Currently he serves as the president of the SITRA, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development.


Lipponen was Prime Minister of Finland from 1995 to 2003 [1], and Chairman of the Finnish Social Democratic Party from 1993 to 2005. He also served as Speaker of the Parliament of Finland 2003-2007 [2].

Lipponen was elected chairman of the Finnish Social Democratic Party in 1993, and he led the party to victory in the parliamentary election of 1995. Lipponen formed a cabinet of five parties including both rightist and leftist parties. Lipponen's economic policies were however dominated by the right-wing. The main task of the cabinet was to decrease the number of unemployed. Lipponen was one of EU visionaries and tight fiscal policies allowed participation in European Monetary Union, which resulted in the introduction of Euro in 2002. Foreign trade was increasing above European average 1995-1999. Laws for a new constitution were passed and it took effect on March 1, 2000.

Lipponen headed the SDP campaign in 1999 which resulted in losses, but the SDP remained the largest party in the parliament. The coalition formed in 1995 was renewed. During the secong Lipponen cabinet, Lipponen was heading the EU presidency and led pro-integration and pro-expansion policies. Lipponen introduced concept of European constitution during speech in Brügge in 2000.

He is currently advising Nord Stream in regards to on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and permit application in Finland. He will provide independent consultations according to his expertise in Finnish administrative and decision-making procedures within the energy sector. [4]
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Postby American Dream » Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:16 pm

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php? ... &aid=14538

Afghanistan: Training Ground for War on Russia
NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
By Rick Rozoff
Global Research, July 26, 2009


A Swedish newspaper reported on July 24 that approximately 50 troops from the country serving under NATO in the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had engaged in a fierce firefight in Northern Afghanistan and had killed three and wounded two attackers.

The report detailed that the Swedish troops were traveling in armored vehicles and "later received reinforcements from several soldiers in a Combat Vehicle 90." [1]

The world has become so inured to war around the world and seemingly without end that Swedish soldiers engaging in deadly combat as part of a belligerent force for the first time since the early 1800s - and that in another continent thousands of kilometers from their homeland - has passed virtually without notice.

A Finnish news story of the preceding day, possibly about the same incident but not necessarily, reported that "A Finnish-Swedish patrol, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), came under fire in northern Afghanistan" on July 23rd. [2]

Three days before that a Swedish commander in the north of Afghanistan, where Finnish and Swedish troops are in charge of ISAF operations in four provinces, acknowledged that "During the last three months, six serious incidents have occurred in our area." [3]

The same source revealed that in the upcoming weeks Swedish troop numbers are to be increased from 390 to 500.

The Svenska Dagbladet reported that over a twelve week period attacks on Swedish-Finnish forces in the area have doubled and that seven attacks preceded the deadly firefight described earlier. "In April, a Norwegian officer was killed by a suicide bomber in a province under Swedish-Finnish control, and several vehicles have been attacked along Mazar-i-Sharif's main road since." [4]

Like Sweden, Finland has also increased troop deployments to Afghanistan lately, ostensibly to provide security for next month's elections but, given the escalation of fighting in the nation's north, certainly to remain there for the duration of NATO's South Asian deployment, one which a German official recently stated would last eighteen years from 2001 onward. In early July Finland dispatched 70 more troops to join the 100 already stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province bordering Kunduz where German troops are waging an almost two week long military offensive.

Last month Finnish forces in the area were attacked twice and a rocket attack struck close to Finnish barracks in the capital of Kabul.

Troops from the other Scandinavian nations have fared even worse. Three Danish soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in Helmand on June 17, bringing the country's death toll to 26. Norway has lost four soldiers.

To illustrate the integration of Finland and Sweden military forces in Afghanistan and under NATO control in general, in late June it was announced that Sweden was purchasing 113 armored vehicles from Finland. Approximately 1,200 of the Finnish-made vehicles "have been ordered by other customers and [they are] currently used operationally in Finland, Poland, Slovenia and Croatia, for example in operations in Afghanistan." [5]

NATO Deployment In Afghanistan "Improves Readiness For Defense Of Finland"

Last month a major Finnish daily newspaper in a feature called "Afghanistan: Now it's Finland's war, too" contained this striking revelation:

"[F]rom the point of view of the Finnish Defence Forces, there is still another important reason for the Afghanistan operation: it improves readiness for the defence of Finland."

The Finnish source quoted the former commander of the nation's troops in Afghanistan, Ari Mattola, as saying, "This is a unique situation for us, in that we will get to train part of our wartime forces. That part will get to operate as close to wartime conditions as is possible." [6]

Comparable claims about the Afghan war being the training ground for military action on their borders - and that can only mean in relation to Russia - have been made by defense and military officials in the Baltic states, Poland and Georgia.

Early this month Finnish Defense Minister Jyri Hakamies divulged that he would further drag his nation into NATO's plans for a drive east aimed against Russia and is paraphrased as asserting that "NATO had approached Finland with an opportunity to take part in cyber warfare training and the country should accept NATO's offer." [7]

NATO's Article 5: Cyber Warfare And Nuclear Weapons

On June 15 US President Barack Obama and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves met at the White House with American National Security Adviser James Jones, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, and discussed cyber security - which is to say, as the Finnish Defense Minister more honestly called it, cyber warfare. The Estonian president, raised in the United States and a former Radio Free Europe employee, "thanked the United States for its assistance in establishing the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center in the Estonian capital of Tallinn...." [8]

The head of the U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin Chilton, indicated this May what US and NATO cyber warfare plans might include when he said that "the White House retains the option to respond with physical force - potentially even using nuclear weapons - if a foreign entity conducts a disabling cyber attack against U.S. computer networks...." [9]

The NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania authorized the establishment of the Alliance's cyber warfare center in Estonia in 2008 and last month the Pentagon complemented that initiative by approving a unified U.S. Cyber Command.

For two years American and NATO officials have spoken bluntly about invoking NATO's Article 5 war clause, used for the invasion of Afghanistan and the buildup to that of Iraq, in response to alleged Russian cyber attacks.

Encirclement Of Russia: Finland Offers NATO 237,000 Troops, 1,300 Kilometer Border

This January Finland released a Security and Defense Policy Report which stated that "Finland regards NATO as the most important military security cooperation organisation", and that "there will continue to be a strong case for considering Finland's membership of NATO in the future". [10]

Mandatory weapons interoperability is a key component of full NATO membership and in April the Finnish Defense Ministry announced "the team of Norwegian Kongsberg and US Raytheon has been selected to fulfill Finland's future Medium Range Air Defense Missile System (MRADMS) requirements....The new NATO-compliant anti-aircraft missile system will replace the Russian-made BUK systems purchased in 1996 that will be taken out of service. The key reason for giving up the Russian systems is their lack of compatibility and interoperability with NATO systems...." [11]

The Helsinki Times of July 23 quoted Finnish Russian experts Esa Seppanen and Ilmari Susiluoto on Russian responses to what is now an all but certain development: Finland's joining NATO and providing the Alliance a new 1,300-kilometer border with the nation that has always been NATO's main target.

The two scholars are quoted as saying that "Russia is concerned about Finland's NATO option. It will not remain passive if Finland becomes a member."

The article also says that "NATO is marketed in Finland as a global peacekeeper. However, the Russians see it as a territorial threat specifically aimed at them" and "Russia fears that NATO membership would bring NATO's military structures to Finnish soil.

"NATO's expansion in the Nordic countries would finish off the military-political stability of the entire region. The Baltic Sea would become 'NATO's sea,' with the exception of Kaliningrad and the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland." [12]

In addition to securing NATO's encirclement of Russia from the Barents to the Baltic to the Blacks Seas, an article titled "Finland Rearms," in reference to the Finnish government recently agreeing to boost military spending to 2% of its budget - a standard NATO demand - says "By raising their spending, Finland pulls more of its weight in the alliance and thus is more likely to get a favorable response to any future requests for defense aid. Finland is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and, with their new emphasis on added security, are likely to grow a closer relationship in the future.

With Finland in NATO the bloc would gain an additional "237,000 troops, beefed up with the latest infantry weapons and heavy armor...." [13]

Finland, Sweden Forced Into NATO And Overseas Wars Against Will Of The People

In a recent newspaper interview the Finnish Speaker of the Parliament Sauli Niinisto spoke of the surreptitious campaign underway - indeed almost completed - to pull his nation into an expanding worldwide military alliance despite its citizens not only being opposed to but not even aware of it.

He characterized the process in this manner: "The logic of silent agreements has been brought very far in thinking in which closer Finnish participation in NATO is seen to bring us security points from the United States and NATO." [14]

Niinisto listed several instances of how NATO is transitioning Finland into full membership without public debate or cognizance. Referring to the purchase of NATO interoperable fighter jets, he said that "It was a silent preliminary contract involving confidence that more supplies would come later."

He also cited Finland's participation in NATO's international Rapid Response Force as well as in the European Union's Nordic Battlegroups. More will be said later about the integration of the EU and NATO in global deployments and strike forces but this (not so) hypothetical observation by the Finnish Speaker offers an initial insight:

"All European defence activities are always under the NATO umbrella. What if the EU could be collectively a NATO member? What would Finland do then? Would Finland secede? The EU now seeks to act as a collective in all organisations. Why would security policy be a big exception?" [15]

An identical campaign, covert and concerted, in being conducted in Sweden, where as in Finland polls regularly register a majority of citizens opposed to NATO accession, and is being addressed and combated by the Sptoppa smyganslutningen till NATO/Stop surreptitious accession to NATO, whose web address is: http://www.stoppanato.se

European Union, NATO Symbiosis: Global Battlegroups And War In The Caucasus

Mention has already been made of the European Union Battlegroups and on July 21 Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels - to "address the North Atlantic Council on the priorities of the Swedish EU Presidency" [16] - further endorsed the project and "expressed his support here [Brussels] for the EU's battlegroup concept, under which about 1,500 troops from three or more countries are on standby on a six-month rotation."

The article the preceding is taken from added "Bildt, whose country holds the six-month rotating EU presidency...said there was 'huge demand' for Europe in the world and that the best way for the EU to improve its crisis management capability, of which battlegroups are a part, is by implementing the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

"He said they must remain ready to be deployed within 10 days."

As to where such deployments may occur in the future, "Bildt also hopes to secure backing from fellow EU foreign ministers early next week for a one-year extension to the EU's peace monitoring mission in Georgia" and "says he will insist on the mission's right to monitor the situation in the two regions [Abkhazia and South Ossetia]...." [17]

He was referring to re-deploying European Union monitors - including troops - to the borders of Georgia with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where in the latter case a war erupted last August after a Georgian assault and a Russian response. Bildt and the EU in fact don't consider that there are national borders connecting the three states but that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are part of Georgia. Russia, which has recognized the independence of both, disagrees and as such opposes EU troops returning to the area, where Abkhazia has accused them of collaborating with the Georgian government of Mikhail Saakashvili in launching attacks on its territory.

What Bildt is actually advocating is something substantially more serious and fraught with the danger of a conflict far worse than the war of last August.

The Chairman of the Georgian Parliamentary Commission on Defense and Security, Givi Targamadze, said on July 21 "The deoccupation [regarding Russian troops] of this territory [Abkhazia and South Ossetia], but not the presence of the observation mission in an expanded format, is important for us. However, U.S troops' participation in the mission will be a step forward." [18]

That is, the EU will insinuate itself into South Caucasus conflict zones and US troops will be inside the Trojan Horse. If that scenario evolves, troops from the world's two major nuclear powers can face off against each other in the next war.

Three days after visiting NATO Headquarters Bildt was in Afghanistan, during the exact moment the battle described at the beginning of this article occurred, to meet with US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and to visit an ISAF European Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

Regarding the effective merger of EU and NATO international security and military missions and how the EU is being employed to hasten NATO's absorption of nations like Sweden and Finland, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who will turn his post over to former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen this week, in early July "expressed frustration...over the lack of progress in NATO's relationship with the European Union" and said:

"I will leave my office in three weeks' time frankly disappointed that a true strategic partnership that makes such eminent sense for both organisations (NATO and the EU) has still not come about.

"I am convinced that if ... North America and Europe are to defend their values and interests and solve [common] challenges, then we will need to do a much better job of combining the complementary assets of NATO and the EU. We should work together where necessary, not just where we can.

"Our missions, our geographical areas of interest, our capabilities...are increasingly overlapping, not to speak of our memberships. Our definition of the security challenges and the means to tackle them is also increasingly a shared one." [19]

Scheffer added "NATO-EU relations will be an important part of the
alliance's new Strategic Concept, which serves as guidelines for all actions," a subject doubtlessly addressed with Bildt, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, two weeks later. [20]

Applying NATO's War Clause Globally

At the same press conference the NATO chief said "I hope the new Strategic Concept will finally lay to rest the notion that there is any distinction between security at home and security abroad. Globalization has abolished the protection that borders or geographical isolation from crisis areas used to provide." [21]

Significantly, Scheffer affirmed that NATO's Article 5 mutual military assistance provision can "apply outside NATO territory as much as inside." [22]

To the South Caucasus, for example.

Four previous articles in this series have addressed NATO's plans to absorb Finland and Sweden as full members [23] and US and NATO plans to confront Russia in what the Alliance calls the High North, the Arctic Ocean and by extension the Baltic Sea. [24]

Scandinavian Nations Move Military Into Arctic Circle

Sweden's and Finland's Scandinavian neighbors Denmark and Norway, both NATO members, have recently joined the battle for the Arctic.

Last month Norway revealed that it was moving it Operational Command Headquarters from the south of the nation at Stavanger north to Reitan outside Bodo, "thus making Norway the first country to move its military command leadership to the Arctic." [25]

Last year "Norway's government decided to buy 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 jets at a cost of 18 billion crowns ($2.81 billion), rating them better than rival Swedish Saab's Gripen at tasks such as surveillance of the vast Arctic north." [26]

A few days after the Norway's announcement that it was shifting its military command headquarters to the Arctic the Danish government said that increasing competition for resources and more importantly military advantage in the Arctic "will change the region's geostrategic significance and thus entail more tasks for the Danish Armed Forces".

Because "The risk of confrontation in the Arctic seems to be growing," Denmark plans to "set up a joint-service Arctic Command and is considering expanding the military base at Thule in northern Greenland, which was a vital link in US defences during the Cold War" and "create an Arctic Response Force, using existing Danish military capabilities that are adapted for Arctic operations." [27]

Copenhagen itself has no direct claim to the Arctic but is using Greenland and the Faroe Islands, both effectively colonies, for a military buildup that can only be aimed against Russian claims in the region.

An article titled "Danish militarization of Arctic" adds these details:

"The higher focus on the Arctic is part of the Danish defence plan for the period 2010-2014 approved by Parliament, the Folketinget, on 24 June.

"Denmark [is also considering applying] fighter jets in monitoring operations and sovereignty protection at and around Greenland. The country might also consider to give the Thule Base a more central role in cooperation with partner countries."
[28]

The partners in question are fellow NATO members and Arctic claimants the United States, Canada and Norway.

From August 6 to 28 Canada will conduct its major annual Arctic military exercise, Operation NANOOK, with "land, sea and air forces operating in the Baffin Island region." [29] This year Canadian special forces will join the war games. "Col. Michael Day, commanding officer of Canada's Special Operations Forces Command, said units such as the Special Operations Regiment and Joint Task Force 2 have rarely been involved in northern military exercises." [30]

Arctic: Russia's Last Stand Against Missile Shield First Strike Threat

Two previous articles [31] have examined the fact that the Arctic Circle is the only spot on the planet where Russian nuclear deterrent and retaliation capacities can be based in order to evade potential US and NATO missile shield-linked first strikes.

Earlier this month former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev appeared on Russian television and warned that "missile defense installations in Europe are a threat to Russia" and "are aimed at creating a situation that makes it possible for NATO to be first to launch a nuclear strike while staying under the shield." [32]

On June 30th the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen was in Poland where Washington intends to install interceptor missiles and "said he was hopeful Washington and Warsaw could wrap up talks on a deal tied to a anti-missile plan opposed by Russia....[33]

On July 13-14 Russia carried out test launches of two Sineva intercontinental ballistic missiles and "The United States was reportedly unable to detect the presence of Russian strategic submarines in the area before they launched the missiles."

As a government official said of the tests, "Russian submarines not only fired ballistic missiles while submerged, they also did it from under ice floe near the North Pole, which proves that the Russian Navy has retained the capability of moving under Arctic ice and striking targets while undetected." [34]

At the beginning of this month NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer officiated over a change of command for the Alliance's top military commander, swearing in Admiral James Stavridis. The latter's comments at the event included:

"With me are over seventy thousand shipmates - military and civilian - in three continents from the populated plains and coasts of Europe to the bright blue of the Mediterranean Sea; from the high mountain passes of Afghanistan to the distant Arctic Circle." [35]

The simultaneous and coordinated US and NATO military buildup in the Arctic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and the Barents Sea are moving the line of confrontation with Russia ever closer. With Finland's and Sweden's integration into NATO the armed forces of both nations will have something far more formidable and dangerous to contend with than firefights in Northern Afghanistan.

Notes

1) The Local, July 24, 2009
2) NewsRoom Finland, July 23, 2009
3) Stockholm News, July 20, 2009
4) Radio Sweden, July 20, 2008
5) Swedish Wire, June 26, 2009
6) Helsingin Sanomat, June 19, 2009
7) Xinhua News Agency, July 3, 2009
8 ) Government Security Information, June 17, 2009
9) Global Security, May 12, 2009
10) Defense Professionals, June 25, 2009
11) Ibid
12) Helsinki Times, July 23, 2009
13) Strategy Page, June 29, 2009
14) Helsingin Sanomat, June 16, 2009
15) Ibid
16) Trend News Agency, July 21, 2009
17) Defense News, July 22, 2009
18 ) Trend News Agency, July 22, 2009
19) Trend News Agency, July 7, 2009
20) Ibid
21) Xinhua News Agency, July 7, 2009
22) Ibid
23) End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO's Militarization Of Europe
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/38611
24) Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO's War Plans For The High North
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/40045

NATO's, Pentagon's New Strategic Battleground: The Arctic
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/37104

Canada: Battle Line In East-West Conflict Over The Arctic
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/39795

25) Barents Observer, June 2, 2009
26) Reuters, June 22, 2009
27) BBC News, July 16, 2009
28 ) Barents Observer, July 16, 2009
29) National Defence and the Canadian Forces, July 10, 2009
30) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, July 8, 2009
31) NATO's, Pentagon's New Strategic Battleground: The Arctic
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/37104

Canada: Battle Line In East-West Conflict Over The Arctic
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/message/39795
32) Russia Today, July 2, 2009
33) Agence France-Presse, June 30, 2009
34) Russian Information Agency Novosti, July 15, 2009
35) NATO Inter
national, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe,
July 2, 2009

Stop NATO
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