How the CIA got Finlandization about right

Freedom of information can be a beautiful thing, as shown by the CIA's Freedom of Information Act page. They recently declassified a bunch of Cold War related papers that can provide hours of reading for the discerning history buff. Of special interest to me was "'Finlandization' in Action: Helsinki's Experience with Moscow" (PDF) by Carolyn Ekedahl, which gives a dispassionately analyzed, well-informed account of the phenomenon from Western perspective circa 1972.

The Finnish attempt to balance seemingly contradictory policies has been an integral part of Finnish policy since the war. While some recent Finnish policies (specifically the German initiatives) have borne a distinctly Eastern flavor, these mark a continuation of the post-war Finnish emphasis on the "special relationship" with the USSR. What has been new in recent Finnish moves is the hesitant pursuit of a more "active" neutrality through such efforts as the nomination of a Finnish candidate, independently of Soviet wishes, for the post of UN Secretary General. Any complete abandonment by the Finns of their "special relationship" with the Soviets is unlikely for the foreseeable future, but the Finns doubtless will continue their quiet, consistent efforts to extend their neutral image and the limits of their independence.
In hindsight the author is much too critical of the CSCE - the process clearly helped the West more than the East - and slightly exaggerates the Communists' revolutionary intentions in 1948 - they plotted and planned, but never got around to pulling the trigger - plus whenever the author disagrees with Max Jakobson, I'm inclined to side with the latter. Nevertheless, the arguments are well worth reading if this period interests you. Certainly the level of knowledge and insight is far removed from Norman Podhoretz's fantasies that I criticized earlier.

A fun game to play while reading the report is to guess what was the source for each reported discussion. That's the tack Helsingin Sanomat took in their article on the topic (fi). According to historian Kimmo Rentola, who has written extensively on Finnish Communism, the report contained information from someone close to President Urho Kekkonen and National Coalition Party party secretary Veikko Tavastila. He also evaluates that the CIA had better information on the Communist Party than the Finnish intelligence. That's interesting, because even the Finnish security police had a fairly high level source within the Communist Party during this period.

For an earlier take on the same topic, you may also want to check out a much shorter report from 1962 titled "Prospects for Finland and Their Implications for the Other Scandinavian Countries". (Use the search feature on the main page.)

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