Foreign policy non-leaders

There's a slight difference of opinion in the weekend's papers on the topic of who is (not) leading Finnish foreign policy. Ilta-Sanomat arrived at the conclusion - based on the word of anonymous politicians - that President Tarja Halonen (Social Democratic Party) is out of the loop. Meanwhile IS's more respectable older brother Helsingin Sanomat published a piece (fi) - based on the analysis of anonymous experts - that Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) is quiet and submissive toward Halonen.

That leaves the National Coalition Party, which provides Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva and Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies. The problem with that theory is that when there's disagreement, for some reason decisions keep going against the Coalition's wishes. Most notable of course is that Finland's not joining NATO any time soon, in contrast with the "personal opinions" of leading Coalitionists. Even setting a timetable for joining NATO Response Forces seems like a difficult endeavor. A minister repeating the word "Russia" three times doesn't magically give him the keys to the republic.

I think this is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Back in the day when the Coalition was in the opposition, criticism of how there's no foreign policy debate was commonplace. Now that the party's in the government and its politicians say some of the same things they said during their opposition days, we suddenly have a foreign policy debate. That of course proves the people in charge aren't really in charge, because if they were, what accounts for all this debating going on?

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