Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Pam Burke 

View from the North 40: Let's pop open a refreshing can of freedom and security


Last updated 6/16/2022 at 5:44pm

As we all know, or should know, or kind of remember but the exact details escape us, Sweden and Finland applied May 18 to join NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in the wake of Russia’s invasion and ruthless efforts to pummel into submission their fellow European country of Ukraine.

No word is out on their application status, but it looks like Finland is winning the popularity contest.

Remember, after Sweden and Finland started talking about how they might be, maybe, applying for their NATO membership, Putin said if they did so, they would regret it because he would be done mopping the floor with Ukraine in a few weeks then would start in on their countries next.

But Ukraine said “negative, Ghost Rider,” and is proving to be a bit of a sticky-wicket to conquer, so the two countries put in their applications, and Putin said, “No, what I meant was that you will regret it because NATO isn’t that cool anyway.”

But we don’t really know the backstory on all this because we’re Americans and we haven’t cared about European history since 1776, however, this is all soap-opera level stuff between these countries, except with more death and ruination.

Finland was part of Sweden for something like 700 years — until the early 1800s when Russia decided to invade Sweden, and Sweden was all “negative, Ghost Rider,” but to save themselves in the end the Swedes said, “Sorry!” and ceded Finland to Russia. Which was a significant land grab.

But then along came the Bolsheviks taking over Russia from the inside with their 1917 revolution. These were chaotic times.

Finland and three other countries, seeing opportunity in chaos, said “negative, Ghost Rider, we don’t want to be part of your communist experiment,” and they declared independence. Which Russia, aka Soviet Union, was OK with until World War II broke out.

Russia/Soviet Union saw opportunity in chaos this time and invaded Finland, who said, yup, you know it, “negative, Ghost Rider.”

But Finland shares 810 miles of border with Russia, which is a lot to defend with so few people, so they looked over their shoulder at Sweden and said, “Um, can we get a little help here, this time?”

Sweden, who had a pretty strong army because, y’know, they got to just stay home, shore up their defenses and “find themselves” over the previous hundred-plus years, said, “Hey we’d jump in there, but we decided our life lesson from the last dust-up is to remain neutral.”

Let’s face it, though, Sweden isn’t Switzerland-level neutral because, well, Switzerland makes some pretty good bank, literally, off staying neutral and storing and/or laundering everybody’s money. So Sweden sent some troops — maybe it was out of duty to their once-countrymen, maybe it was guilt, maybe they just looked at a map and said, “Hey, if Finland falls there’s no more buffer between us and Russia/Soviet Union.”

Weirdly, it was most likely Hitler’s help from Nazi Germany that saved Finland from Russia, but Finland and Sweden remain close friends anyway, which is important to events of 2022.

After Russian leader Vladimir Putin started a deadly land-grab spree through Ukraine Feb. 24, the Finnish folks started getting twitchy flashbacks to 100 years ago.

And Reuters reported June 6 that the Finland Women’s National Emergency Preparedness Association said that they got a lot of calls right away from women asking about where to find the nearest shelter and other resources.

As things unfolded in Ukraine, though, with regular citizens having to defend their country, the calls turned to requests on how to participate in national defense. In response, the organization set up a military reservist mini-course for women to get war preparedness training.

About 300 women were in training, the article said, and another 500 were on a waiting list at that time, which isn’t chump change in a country with a population of only 5.5 million.

This training push is on top of another home-grown effort to sweeten the deal on Finland’s NATO application. The Associated Press reported May 20 that on the same day the application was sent in, Olaf’s Brewing Co. from southeast Finland started selling home brewed and canned OTAN beer. The name is a play on words because that’s the French abbreviation for NATO, and “Otan olutta” is Finnish for “I’ll have a beer.”

The beer’s makers officially describe the lager as having “a taste of security, with a hint of freedom.”

NATO members seem positive about Finland’s application, but some are giving Sweden the ol’ “negative, Ghost Rider” push back. Maybe it’s because all Sweden has to offer is a past showing sketchy loyalty to their allies and Swedish meatballs, which have already been co-opted by IKEA.

But I’d like to think that the Finnish folks have invited the Swedes over to sit down for a few rounds of OTAN beer while they brainstorm some helpful ideas inspired by the taste of freedom and security.


Sure this news has been sitting on the back burner for almost a month, but like I tell my husband when he looks askance at leftovers from the back of the fridge: “Trust me. I haven’t poisoned you yet” at http://www.facebook.com/viewfromthenorth40 .


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