'Tis the season to talk in circles about NATO. The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (UPI), "an independent research institute that functions in association with the Parliament of Finland", released its NATO report (PDF) today and the Foreign Ministry's report should be out later this month.
Titled From Protecting Some to Securing Many - NATO's Journey from a Military Alliance to a Security Manager, the UPI report focuses on describing the ways in which NATO has changed and will be changing. I'll quote some of the juicier statements - relatively speaking - from the executive summary:
[N]o longer facing a conventional military threat, NATO has since the mid-1990s also taken on a security manager role. In this role it has engaged in a range of activities in which the organization's military competence supports broader efforts to increase the security of member and non-member states. These include military exchange, assistance and disarmament programmes, as well as humanitarian assistance and crisis management operations.
What is clear to all [NATO members] is that Europe's collective defence is realized through NATO. Irrespective of the status of the European Union's potential security guarantees, the EU does not have the capabilities required to plan and execute collective defence; nor is it planning to acquire them.
Finnish membership in NATO would temporarily annoy Russia, but the relationship is likely in due course to return to normal.
Despite the nearly exclusive focus on non-Article 5 crisis operations, collective defence responsibilities remain at the core of the Alliance. Therefore, Finland should only seek NATO membership if it is ready to assist other members if they are attacked, and conversely benefit from receiving assistance from other Alliance members if it is ever attacked.
The folks at UPI don't say outright whether Finland should join, but if the above quotes weren't suggestive enough for you, this paragraph sort of gives the game away:
Most critically, a better understanding of NATO is important so that the organization can be properly placed within the broader context of Finland's security and defence policies. The debate about how these policies need to be changed cannot properly be held as long as "NATO" is effectively a swearword in Finnish society.
"I wish you wouldn't be so dead set against buying a pony, so we could properly debate how many ponies we need.
"Pro-pony? Me? Whatever gave you that idea?"