pühapäev, detsember 02, 2007

connecting the dots

In Lennart Meri mythology, the former Estonian president was known for being able to assemble a mosaic of events happening simultaneously around the world and somehow be able to plot the right move in foreign policy.

Sometimes, I must admit, I wish there was someone like that around, a foreign policy savant with all the answers. That is because we are entering a season of uncertainty in Europe and abroad.

Next door in Russia the people are endorsing Putin in a national referendum to give him the moral obligation to lead the nation over Zyuganov and Zhiranovsky -- contain your chuckles. In the US, the real campaign is just about to start. And in the middle of this milieu you have Paavo Lipponen telling Estonia to start building relations with Russia now and to abandon hopes of security cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia.

It would be too easy to dismiss Lipponen's comments as Eurocratic spinelessness from the usual suspects -- the Finnish Social Democratic Party. But Finland is Estonia's twin brother, and Lipponen does have experience and he does have access to information. Maybe rather than being a coward, Lipponen is trying to give Estonia some advice -- that winter is coming, that it is time to insulate the windows, stack the wood next to the ahi, and launder the long-johns because it is about to get cold outside.

If we look decades ahead to the future of the Estonian state, what should we see? How will it remain secure even in the face of a hypothetical crumbling of current international security institutions? What will its options be? Will it someday be forced into the kind of accommodating relationship that Kekkonen's Finland had with the Soviet Union?

What is the smartest next step to keep the ship of state ship shape?

81 kommentaari:

nipi ütles ...

Sad and pessimistic future you think of.
Do you really think that democracy as such is really so thin in Europe? Everybody for only own interests and EU sells us for the gas?

Max ütles ...

We may be little and cute, but Putin's oil is indispensable. When push comes to shove, is there any question which way the eurocrats would tilt?

Giustino ütles ...

Do you really think that democracy as such is really so thin in Europe?

No, but it would make sense to evaluate all possibilities, right?
Would it make sense to put all your money on the shiny, happy, NATO comes to Turkmenistan option only?

When push comes to shove, is there any question which way the eurocrats would tilt?

That depends on generations. The Schroeder/Van Der Linden/Chirac generation -- the Cold War dinosaur generation of accomodation with Moscow, has no scruples.

But the Sarkozys, Merkels, Reinfeldts, Niinistös? They see Europe more like the way it looks nowadays.

Anyway, you can't sell something you don't own in the first place.

karLos ütles ...


Anyway, you can't sell something you don't own in the first place.


there is selling, and there is selling out -- something i don't believe estonia should do. estonia doesn't need close cuddly ties with russia (has it ever had that anyway?). surely all it wants is to be left alone to develop, grow and make proper friends with decent countries.

germany and others may have long ago sold their souls for a bit of gas, but estonia can be a guiding light for democracy, (not to russia, perhaps) but certainly to friends in ukraine and georgia.

perhaps germany too might learn something if it started paying attention.

martintg ütles ...

Gettin' spooked Justin? What ever we may think of Putin, he is no Stalin and there is no counterpart to Hitler in today's Europe with which some deal would be done.

I think Estonia is on the right track. The key to Estonia's security, in my view, is to maintain good will and friendship with all countries belonging to Euro-Atlantic institutions like NATO. Countries like France would be less likely to help in a crisis if they were to believe Moscow's line about eSStonia.

Max ütles ...

Anyway, you can't sell something you don't own in the first place.

Oh, really? I must have been thinking of the history of another planet. ;-)

Giustino ütles ...

Oh, really? I must have been thinking of the history of another planet. ;-)

How did Peter the Great obtain control over the Baltic provinces? With the consent of the Baltic German elite, of course.

And how did the Soviets try and succeed (or fail) to take over Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania?

Do the names Otto Kuusinen, Johannes Vares, Augusts Kirhenšteins, and Justas Paleckis mean anything to you?

Gettin' spooked Justin? What ever we may think of Putin, he is no Stalin and there is no counterpart to Hitler in today's Europe with which some deal would be done.

I am personally not a subscriber to the Putin is Darth Vader, Kasparov is Luke Skywalker interpretation of recent events.

I am also not questioning Estonian support for Georgia and Ukraine. I am just entertaining Paavo Lipponen's criticism to see where it leads in the debate.

Flasher T ütles ...

"What ever we may think of Putin, he is no Stalin"

I wonder if he knows that, though.

"and there is no counterpart to Hitler in today's Europe"

That might just be seen as encouraging.

As for mr. Lipponen, I think someone needs to remind him that he is only paying for his latte with Euros thanks to Mannerheim's bunkers. Finland's accomodating relationship with Russia in the Cold War was not the result of goodwill or skillful diplomacy, but the result of Finnish kids with their skis and hunting rifles giving the Red Army such a fight that its commanders were not itching to get into that quagmire again - despite having technically won that war.

Giustino ütles ...

As for mr. Lipponen, I think someone needs to remind him that he is only paying for his latte with Euros thanks to Mannerheim's bunkers.

Very true. From what I have read, the Finnish leadership was actually considering the pact with the USSR in 1939, but the parliament was dominated by stubborn, right-wing Juhan Parts types who made it politically impossible to do so.

I don't think the Estonians pulled the Mannerheim card with Lipponen though. The political elite there -- Vanhanen, Niinistö -- probably has similar thoughts about him.

Still he's old and has been in the business. He cannot just be discounted without any analysis.

martintg ütles ...

Finland's accommodating relationship with Russia in the Cold War was not the result of goodwill or skillful diplomacy

Some historians believe Finland was more accommodating than necessary, and it was more a function of domestic politicians playing the "Russia card" for their own political advantage rather than any real overt or covert threat from Russia.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Sigh. It is always very hard to identify what to defend and what to condemn in Paasikivi-Kekkonen line. But, in 1944-1945 the West left Finland for dead. The Red Army was miraculously stopped in Tali-Ihantala in June-July 1944 in the biggest battles in the history of the Nordic countries - but Stalin could have easily renewed the effort once he had dealt with Germany. Not any single country in the world would have lifted a finger. (Btw, should I remind that in the Winter War Soviet bombers attacked Finland from bases in Estonia, still an independent country, so there are historical slights, quite concrete ones, also from the other side.)

So, no apologies whatsoever for cutting a deal with Stalin in those desperate circumstances. Amazingly that deal was more or less kept by the Soviet Union during which time Finland fully integrated its economy with the West and was able to join the EU (and Nato would we have wanted to do so) once the Soviet regime collapsed. The price was to pretend friendship and not to aggravate the Soviet Union (this said Archipelago Gulag was published in Finland in the height of Finlandization, and so were a host of other books bitterly critical of the Soviet system) and, most significantly, to have a partial security agreement (for wartime) with it.

On real political, Macchiavellian level, I would say that this was an astonishing, unlikely success story - which is why this smug, uninformed advice is still flowing from Helsinki to those countries that Stalin did not make any deals with. Of course the downside was that in the course of time large parts of our "intelligentsija" and the 1970's generation of student radicals started to take our own propaganda seriously, and the national discourse was quite poisoned when Kekkonen gradually became more or less senile. This should diminish our smugness considerably, but with true Nordic arrogance we don't see our own weak points and shortcomings and continue lecturing others without any real understanding of those situations and contexts.

That is unfortunate, but I don't think that Finland should apologize for the fact that in several occasions in our history we have been able to make excellent deals with Russia (like 1809 when getting much more rights from Alexander I than Gustav III or in 1863 when getting an own currency, regular Diets and Finnish as an official language from Alexander II whose statue is still the centre piece of the most prestigious spot in the republic, the Senate Square). So, there is always the possibility (if most of the time remote) that you can reasonably deal with the Kremlin. Of course, it is never useful to needlessly aggravate the Russians who have a huge inferiority complex about the West and who are ridiculously sensitive about their national "greatness". This weakness can be used to advantage many times.

As things now stand it is easy to see that Estonia's policies have actually been astonishingly succesful, astonishingly adroit: out of the ruins of 1991 you have rebuilt the economy, joined the West both economically and militarily. Who could have believed that all this would have been possible in such a short time? It is actually a position of real strength, no matter what absurd bluster is eminating from the Kremlin. Perhaps that should be remembered every now and then. It is not 1939 now, it is actually 2007. Estonia is not alone but a member of all core organizations of the West. I think this means that you can afford a certain non-chalant attitude to Moscow: not every little piece of absurd propaganda is needed to take so deadly seriously. Perhaps you can talk to them, flatter them with empty gestures into good deals - if not you can afford to wait for better times.

Luarvik ütles ...

As for Ukraine and Georgia - who else would speak out (on EU's neighborhood policy) than Estonia? Estonia (the Baltics) has been in a similar position and has heavily relied on Western support (US support especially). Had our course been more moderate and cautious of Russian fury, there would be a Moldova-like entity on the south shore of the gulf of Finland. Something I doubt Finland would have been too happy about...

Jim Hass ütles ...

I don't think that Estonia can afford to be non-chalant about threats to its existence. Without time to repond or a continuing stuggle, the west may just not respond militarily to a fait accompli. How can you afford to take the chance again.

At the same time, one should ponder what Russia elites get out of Estonia's continued independence. Some reason needs to conjured up to alter the rhetorical situation.

If i read one more time "We gave them their independence and they're ungrateful Nazis" type stuff i'll scream.

stockholm slender ütles ...

But in what kind of world would Russia attack and occupy a Nato and EU member? I cannot see the remotest possibility for that in the prevailing circumstances - nor any kind of signs that this situation is about to change so drastically that it would be possible. Does anyone? I mean, really, it is not the 1930's, we are now in 2007 and Russia is busily integrating itself into the world economy and not exporting workers' revolution or cutting deals with Hitler. Honestly.

Doris ütles ...

honestly? One of the reasons I'm not returning to Estonia in the near future is that I'm genuinely afraid that there will be a Russian invasion of some sort within the next 1 to 5 years.

Why do I think that? well, let's see... Russia has just successfully tested the most powerful non-nuclear long-distance bomb in the world. Putin has just passed a document effectively ending the de-militarisation pact in Eastern Europe which, of course, has been rather utopia-like to begin with but still. Putin has just been effectively re-elected along the same lines my mother tells me elections took place during the Soviet Union. "We will see that you vote and we will see that you vote for the right people" Anyone seen the Guardian article today?

Not to even mention the constant air border violations and overall flexing of muscles from the "resurgent Russia"

Am I paranoid? probably. Is this all happening in reality? yes. Is the world paying attention? Not really.

At the moment it would NOT be a good idea to just be quiet and mumble along with Russia. I't probably already too late to get Russia back into a democracy any time soon but perhaps it might be possible to stop it from invading other countries. With the nuclear plant being built in Lithuania, I can easily see Russia screaming out indignagtly that it is a "joint terrorist act from the Baltics and Poland" and barge in, lights blazing. Who's going to remember then that Russia supported the Iran nuclear power tests?

This placantist jammering looks to me increasingly like the pre-WWII Western politics toward Hitler. "yes, please, there you go, Yugoslavia is yours, the only democratic country in Eastern Europe that's left, do with it what you want so long as you promise to keep your promise of being a little bit more friendly to the people"

plasma-jack ütles ...

Well, first it would be Georgia, before they're coming to us. And thanks to the war in Chechnya, Kremlin hasn't been able to take on Georgia just yet. Considering Georgian military might and assuming that Russia doesn't want to fight on two fronts, it's safe to assume that we here have at least 20 years. Although, the danger of our own beloved politicians giving us away for a dime is much bigger. I'm not only talking about Savikas, here.

Max ütles ...

Giustino said...
Oh, really? I must have been thinking of the history of another planet. ;-)

How did Peter the Great obtain control over the Baltic provinces? With the consent of the Baltic German elite, of course.

And how did the Soviets try and succeed (or fail) to take over Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania?

Do the names Otto Kuusinen, Johannes Vares, Augusts Kirhenšteins, and Justas Paleckis mean anything to you?


QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM! You can sell something you don't own in the first place,albeit not legitimately; but you can bargain it away...

Max ütles ...

plasma-jack said...
... Although, the danger of our own beloved politicians giving us away for a dime is much bigger.

Precisely. Bargaining away one's rights and freedom - as an individual or as a state - happens by degrees, not all at once. A concession here, a majority interest there... You don't have to occupy a country militarily to control it.
He who pays the piper calls the tune."

stockholm slender ütles ...

Hmm, I just don't see any geopolitical earthquakes coming this fast. And it would really need a geopolitical earthquake for Russia to declare war on both Nato and EU. It might be a peculiarly Estonian reflex to see themselves as being alone and abandoned in the world, but at the moment that is not the case at all. As to all possible concessions and all flexibility being a slippery slope, I would disagree: sometimes you need them to gain your main goal and frustrate the counterpart in their aims, it is always a matter of the specific issue whether a possible concession is of positive or negative value.

Russia is increasingly looking like Saudi Arabia on taiga and unfortunately for them the long term prospects for fossile fuel suppliers will not be that positive. Let them enjoy their current petro-wealth and the illusion of strength. In any case we are talking about a commercially greedy, utterly cynical and corrupt elite here who is mostly talking patriotism but actually thinking about dollars. It is not Stalin there any more. He died over 50 years ago, he is not pining for the fjords any more. Really.

Max ütles ...

stockholm slender said...
In any case we are talking about a commercially greedy, utterly cynical and corrupt elite here who is mostly talking patriotism but actually thinking about dollars.

Ah, yes. But which elite? The ones in Brussels, Berlin or up on Toompea?
;-))

bureau ütles ...

"How did Peter the Great obtain control over the Baltic provinces? With the consent of the Baltic German elite, of course."

A bit simplistically minded today, aren´t we?

Sweden was down and out and powerless after years of war-mongering, Sweden had violated the constitutional laws, Estonia with the exception of Tallinn according to the sources was completely burnt and devastated from one end to the other.

In this situation the only authorities there were (!) did comply with an offer nobody in his right senses would have resisted.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Angela Merkel does not comply with comrade Le Putin the way he would like her to do, if you take a closer look, and I do not believe that the European Union will or can sell Estonia. I guess the E. U. is glad there is a corridor and will do a lot to keep it that way. The next item for sale would be Poland, and the next frontier is the one to Germany. I did military service from 1985 to 1987 in the German military as a Reconnoisseur, and we knew the best thing the Bundeswehr could hope for in case of conflict on a sub-nuclear-level was to delay the Red Army´s crossing of the Rhine and invading of France for 2-3 days. And a considerable part of post-war Germany was under the Soviet umbrella. Look where Germany is now.

Max ütles ...

I guess the E. U. is glad there is a corridor and will do a lot to keep it that way.

"Corridors" (as in "Polish Corridor" of the 1920s & '30s) have a way of quickly disappearing with sudden "renovations." And the concept of the Baltics and Poland as a "cordon sanitaire" was also enshrined as fundamental to Euro security thinking then, only to vanish with a couple of strokes of the pen on Sept. 28, 1939...
Who woulda thunk...?

Giustino ütles ...

I think the allusions to the 1930s are outdated. Everyone is waiting for history to repeat itself, except that it doesn't.

If you notice, Russia hasn't absorbed any friendly post-Soviet states. Belarus is still on the map. The Yeltsin "solution" to the nationalities problem in the USSR was to give everyone their state but keep them oriented towards Moscow.

It didn't work out that way with Estonia, but, at least economically, Estonia is oriented towards Sweden and Finland, which are not considered to be threats to Russia. Hence, Russia did not protest too much about EU expansion here.

The real risk category here is Estonia's integration into the Western security umbrella of NATO. If Russia was to come into direct confrontation with NATO, the, of course, Estonia would be part of that game.

However, I don't think that Estonia is that interesting for Russia in terms of realpolitik. All Estonia really has is a few ice-free harbors. There's no oil, no gas, and despite the military guarantee of NATO, there will be no troops stationed in Sinimäe.

If you then look at Estonian independence, there is no compelling reason to take it away. It in itself is not an existential threat, the way successful, wealthy capitalist countries were a threat to the USSR in the 1930s.

Sorry to say, Estonia isn't that important to Russia. And other than in terms of security, Russia isn't actually that important to Estonia.
Ansip was recently asked about this at the National Press Club in Washington. He said that yes, economic relations had suffered with Russia because of the BS, but that it doesn't really matter because Russian FDI is so minuscule.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Jens-Olaf ütles ...

n 1994 I told to one of the Eesti Sonumid staff, the second largest of the estonian dailies at that time, that North Korea will collapse after Kim Il Sung's death. It didn't happened. And I was wrong in other foresees though I was reporting from Korea.
Flasher_T has asked recently: Are you scared now. Now I am.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, there's always the option that Mexico took back what it lost in the Mexican War from the US. Some believe their covert war is already under way ...

Max ütles ...

Sorry to say, Estonia isn't that important to Russia.

Boy, I'm sure relieved to hear that. I hope Putya buys it, too...


And other than in terms of security, Russia isn't actually that important to Estonia.

That's like saying 'Apart from my cancer and HIV, I feel pretty good.' Selge!! Asi klaar, meil pole vähimatki muret! ;-)

Giustino ütles ...

Boy, I'm sure relieved to hear that. I hope Putya buys it, too...

To Russia, Estonia is a piddling state on the Baltic Sea with a population the size of Arkhangelsk Oblast that should have no say in anything.

It's nice to think that they go to sleep thinking about Estonia, but more likely they are thinking about Turkmen gas and Arctic oil drilling.

Max ütles ...

So why then do they expend such an inordinate amount of time and effort dicking around with the Estos, even if it means generating volumes of bad PR for themselves globally (including screwing up the Samara summit and pissing off other big players)? Revenge? Location?

Max ütles ...

Obsessive-compulsive dickishness?

Giustino ütles ...

So why then do they expend such an inordinate amount of time and effort dicking around with the Estos

It's a convenient distraction. Imagine if they decided to do that to someone bigger -- like Germany? Then there would be some real storm clouds over Europe. By picking on Estonia they get to change the subject and not really irritate their core partners in the EU.

The "discrimination against Russian speakers" meme has had its days but its mostly a distraction from real issues. It's part of the disinformation campaign. They use it at Ed Lucas blog. Everyone is talking about Russia, then some joker comes in and starts a flame war over Estonia or Latvia.

Suddenly everyone is in rapture over discussing the deportations of 1941, and the discussion of Russia has been nipped in the bud.

stockholm slender ütles ...

I kind of believe that unfortunately as their world view really is so amazingly outdated that they do in fact think that Gulf of Finland is strategically important due to oil shipments and this possible new pipeline. (With all the fond and ever so fresh memories of Peter the Great and Molotov and what you have - these people really do have a chip on their shoulder.) This said all this bluster about Estonia (and not only Estonia) is undoubtedly for cynical domestic purposes and it is not likely that this current sorry crew would get ever carried away by their own propaganda. As far as the current geopolitical situation remains stable (and there are no signs whatsoever that anything dramatic would be about to happen) Estonia is and will remain totally secure. Most often the proper response to Russian antics would no doubt be a yawn...

Max ütles ...

I would like to accept the reassuring view that it's all bluff and bluster, but am more inclined to give credence to your resident Cassandra's, Flasher T's,recurrent chorus - 'Are you scared yet?' It's a sage warning, based on knowledge of national character, which is more apt to dictate the actions of an ultranationalist authoritarian régime than are economic logic and sensible world citizenship.

"Nations have always good reasons for being what they are, and the best of all is that they cannot be otherwise."

-Marquis De Custine (1790-1857)
Empire of the Czar: A Journey Through Eternal Russia, ch. 37 (1843; rev. 1989).

Giustino ütles ...

Estonians would like to believe that the world revolves around them, but if you recall correctly, Russian war in Europe always occurred as part of a large regional conflict.

So if Flasher wants us to be scared, that's fine, but "we" in this case should be every human from Kirkenes to Krakow.

ch1le ütles ...

shait, was afraid of misspelling your name, and there, I did it... shame on me.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Perhaps one thing is missing from this discussion.
Apparently Putin is going to be in power for a long long time.
Here is another "little man" with a huge ego who has masterfully positioned himsef as a leader for life.
Why would he be bothered with Estonia? Perhaps he just wants to admire the view of his underwater Gas lines from the convience of Tallinn's Harbor.
It might be just as simple as what Bill Clinton said when asked why he chise to have a relationship with Monica in the "sacred"
Oval office.
His reply to that question was quite telling.
"I guess it was, because I could"

martintg ütles ...

Honestly, with people like Doris saying they will not return because they are genuinely afraid, this whole thread is bordering on the nuttiness of the recent run on the Kroon.

I have to agree with Stockholm_slender, this is not 1939. It's 2007, and the whole geopolitical landscape is vastly different. Estonian belongs to strong political and military institutions. Its economy is integrated into the European economies, the EU is spending billions of Euros in infrastructure development over the next several years, the standard of living is improving every year.

So what if Putin becomes president for life and centralises rule in Moscow. It won't make one iota of difference on Estonia.

The only thing Estonia has to fear is fear itself. :o)

Max ütles ...

Estonians would like to believe that the world revolves around them

Hell, Giustino, you've got the Estos confused with the Americans!
;-))

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

It is not 1939, we know. I want more transpareny, I want more e-democracy, I want to take part in political decision making as a citizen. I do not like secret diplomacy, and, here is my concern, I do not want to listen to folks like Schröder (once our chancelor) who made jokes about people who have concerns about the development in Russia and that the EU political elite will be corrupted by energy issues. It is not that you need to single out Estonia.

Jim Hass ütles ...

I still have not heard a single reason why an independent Estonia could be useful to the kremlin leadership, except as a whipping boy. Please some one come up with a unique sell proposition that changes their frame of mind -- besides that ignoble role of useful stooge.

Surely there is some benefit, to out weigh the irritation that a successful little brother can represent. Surely the Finns have some point to mysterious advice.

Giustino ütles ...

I still have not heard a single reason why an independent Estonia could be useful to the kremlin leadership, except as a whipping boy. Please some one come up with a unique sell proposition that changes their frame of mind -- besides that ignoble role of useful stooge.

Surely there is some benefit, to out weigh the irritation that a successful little brother can represent. Surely the Finns have some point to mysterious advice


Well why does Russia allow any country to exist? It has nukes and a desire to administrate land. Why is there an independent Kazakhstan? Why is there even an entity known as Moldova?

I would argue that Russia is in the midst of a period of state building and national identity consolidation.

They are turning it from a conglomerate state where Russians were a bare majority -- the Soviet Union -- to something like a "nation state" where Russians are ~80 percent of the population.

During the 1985-1991 period Russians clearly selected dumping the conglomerate USSR of Gorbachev for the more national Russian Federation of Yeltsin.

So, in a sense, in the eyes of Russia, an Estonia populated with uppity nationalists is not welcome in a Russia for the Russians. They don't want to share Russia with Chechnyans, let alone Lithuanians and Latvians and Georgians.

When Putin talks about Russians, he's not talking about Chechens or Yupik or Mari people. He's talking about eastern Slavs, the 'titular nation' of the Russian Federation.

From the Swedish and Finnish security perspectives, a Western-oriented Estonia is key to their defense strategy.

From their perspective, the Baltic Sea should be an open one where ferries are going each day from Helsinki to Tallinn and Stockholm to Riga and so on.

They are small countries with comparatively high amounts of capital that have invested significantly in Estonia. Between the two of them they own the banks. Add in Norway and they own the media. They own the food stores. They own telecommunication companies. It's basically an extension of the Nordic market, which is why T H Ilves was so busy selling it to them as that in the late 1990s.

Any reversal in Estonia's geopolitical status would have an impact on the Swedish and Finnish economies and defense structures.

So an independent Estonia "makes sense" to all of Estonia's neighbors for different reasons.

martintg ütles ...

giustino said...
So an independent Estonia "makes sense" to all of Estonia's neighbors for different reasons.


Indeed. Some mention has been made of the energy angle. Estonia has some 100 years worth of commercially viable oil shale deposits. With its recently completed undersea electricity cable to Finland and more planned to other EU countries, Estonia is set to become a net energy exporter in the region. See:
http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1196738232.91

nipi ütles ...

Energy export will remain questionable in relation to CO quota. Even cement industry has to cut down their production.
And btw, my opinion is that the fuel for energy stations is even more valuable as raw material, source for wide area of chemistry.

Erik ütles ...

Whatever choises Estonia will make i think its very important to always play by the international rules that controls how inter-national relations should be conducted.
Our neighbour in the east is not so very good in this but we should not stoop to this level. Sure rules are just words, but words are important and its important for how a country is viewed by other countries.
Estonia should make as many ties (economical, cultural, bilateral, political) as possible to the neighbouring western/scandinavian countries as possible. Estonia is, as ealier said, not a country that exists in a vaccuum, but a country that is part of the nordic community and the european cmmunity. Theese ties i think is strengthening Estonias security and stability
Sure, i think Estonia should not piss off Russia, just as it should not piss off any other countries, just for the spite of it. There is always a fine line to dance when it comes to preserving ones own interests and not disturbing others interests at the same time. Still Estonias first interests and resposibility is, and should always be, Estonia.

Max ütles ...

I would argue that Russia is in the midst of a period of state building and national identity consolidation.

The world has noticed. The din is quite deafening!

During the 1985-1991 period Russians clearly selected dumping the conglomerate USSR of Gorbachev for the more national Russian Federation of Yeltsin.

'Clearly selected'? ROFLOL!! The whole shaky structure imploded. Yeltsin couldn't manage the remains even, and please note that this, uh, 'selection' is what the new National Leader has termed 'the greatest political catastrophe of the 20th century'. Most of the '-stans' have already been clawed back and US bases have been excluded from those that housed them when the Afghan fighting was renewed.

So, in a sense, in the eyes of Russia, an Estonia populated with uppity nationalists is not welcome in a Russia for the Russians.

True. But a 'Pribaltika' devoid of Estonians, or with a docile Estonian minority, is part of what Russian nationalists consider their birthright and ancestral homeland. Would projected Estonian demographics prove a serious impediment to restoring the situation in the old ESSR/ENSV, where the creation of such a minority culture was by the 1970s a very successful work in progress, with the Estonian language in full retreat under the baton of La Gretshkina.


When Putin talks about Russians, he's not talking about Chechens or Yupik or Mari people. He's talking about eastern Slavs, the 'titular nation' of the Russian Federation.

Exactly. Putin and his Nashists have no use for such minorities, even as their predecessors had no use for Ingrians or Karelians. Last summer I spoke with an old Karelian friend in Helsinki, who sadly opined that the claims of his group (heretofore politically quite lively in Finland) had been weakened by the irreversible demographics in their ancestral homeland, cradle of ancient Finnish culture and source of the Kalevala myths. And in Tallinn in 1995, while inquiring at a bus stop which bus to take to the village of Jüri to visit the historic little cemetery there, I chanced to enter into conversation with a very amiable lady who turned out to be Ingrian. She spoke beautiful Estonian with a barely discernible Finnic inflection. She told me that she and her family had been deported to Siberia in the 1940s from old 'Ingermanland' between Narva and St Pete. Her parents had perished in the east, and she had
elected to 'return' not to Ingria, where 'there was no one left,' but to Estonia where it was 'ikka pisut kodune', where she had married another returnee of Ingrian extraction. 'Kodus ikka räägime soome keelt,' she told me. 'Mu tütra kah...'

Before Peter carved out his window, Finnic tribal territory wrapped solidly around the head of the Gulf. Piter is built on Finnic bones. Some Ingrian settleements remained in isolated pockets. Laidoner's forces pushing east of Ivangorod during the War of Liberation found tidy, prosperous farming villages here and there where the locals spoke the Ingrian dialect. Indeed, there were enough Ingrians at that timee to warrant raising an Ingrian battalion in the Eesti Rahvavägi, somethng not commonly known. Stalin's great collectivizaiton pretty much put paid to these remnants. And of course the tragic fate of the Karelians, and the eventual 'demotion' of the Karelian SSR to an ASSR, etc. are now ancient history.

From the Swedish and Finnish security perspectives, a Western-oriented Estonia is key to their defense strategy.

A bit of a buffer, to be sure, but in terms of actual deployment and formal alliances, how have the defensive postures of Sweden and Finland really changed? Are they joining NATO?

From their perspective, the Baltic Sea should be an open one where ferries are going each day from Helsinki to Tallinn and Stockholm to Riga and so on.

They managed quite nicely without the ferries for half a century, though...


They are small countries with comparatively high amounts of capital that have invested significantly in Estonia. Between the two of them they own the banks. Add in Norway and they own the media. They own the food stores. They own telecommunication companies. It's basically an extension of the Nordic market, which is why T H Ilves was so busy selling it to them as that in the late 1990s.

Now this IS truly persuasive, and doubtless the strongest and most viable strategy to ensure Scando support and involvement. Still, one must remember that many substantial Western investors, notably the British, simply walked away in 1940 and wrote off their losses in Estonia. I've often thought that Estos ought to dot the country with McDonalds franchises to stimulate US interest in Esto independence. Maybe soaring sales of Big Macs would have gotten the EDF at least one F-16 instead of four Robinson R-44 choppers (good for doing traffic reports) and a shower of M-14s, and rated training with US regulars instead of token contingents from the Maryland National Guard.

Any reversal in Estonia's geopolitical status would have an impact on the Swedish and Finnish economies and defense structures.

But how great an impact? Sufficient to alter policy if confronted by Putin's, er, displeasure? Or would the Libunens (sp?) suddenly be in full chorus?


So an independent Estonia "makes sense" to all of Estonia's neighbors for different reasons.

I agree, it OUGHT to "make sense" - in a sensible world, to all sensible folk. Giustino, I am honestly not trying to be a pain in the ass. But I have to make one demur: 'to all BUT ONE' of Estonia's neighbors, surely.

"It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion."

-Dean William Inge of St Paul's, London (1860--1954), Outspoken Essays, "Patriotism" (1915).

Frank ütles ...

Now that´s what I call spirited enlightenment ... and a post that makes good reading -

Giustino ütles ...

'Clearly selected'? ROFLOL!! The whole shaky structure imploded. Yeltsin couldn't manage the remains even, and please note that this, uh, 'selection' is what the new National Leader has termed 'the greatest political catastrophe of the 20th century'. Most of the '-stans' have already been clawed back and US bases have been excluded from those that housed them when the Afghan fighting was renewed.

They elected Yeltsin.

A bit of a buffer, to be sure, but in terms of actual deployment and formal alliances, how have the defensive postures of Sweden and Finland really changed? Are they joining NATO?

I don't think anyone doubts where their sympathies lie. The Finnish public has been told for so long that NATO is not worth it. But conteporary politicians are raising serious doubts about Finland's total defense strategy. They don't think they'd last a week without assistance.

Now this IS truly persuasive, and doubtless the strongest and most viable strategy to ensure Scando support and involvement. Still, one must remember that many substantial Western investors, notably the British, simply walked away in 1940 and wrote off their losses in Estonia.

Britain was nearly bankrupt by the end of the war. They lost the same amount of people the US lost on 9/11 nearly every day during the blitz. And you wonder why they walked away from their losses?

Why do you consistently try and put Estonia in the context of the 1930s? Do you recall that in the 1930s Germany was swallowing up Austria, occupied Poland, acquired the city of Klaipeda from the Lithuanians? Do you see any international powers pining for transferring the Petsamo district back to Finland, or Stettin back to Germany, or L'viv and Vilnius to Poland? No. That's because the "Great Powers" era of multiple European states arguing over who controls miniscule territories is mostly over.

World War II is a mental disease that sadly many people suffer from. They interpret all events through the prism of the 1940s. Perhaps it is what we are best acquianted with in terms of history. But we are lying to ourselves if we think that if we finally understand Hitler, we will understand how to prevent "the next Hitler". And speaking of national characters and Hitler, who is Germany sizing up for invasion? Or did they already invade via the EU and we just didn't realize it?

Aleks at All About Latvia is closer to the truth in his analysis. He writes that Russia doesn't want to administer these states, just to own them. Estonia can wave the sinine-must-valge and win cross country gold in all the Olympics to come and that's fine. They just want to have a nice, malleable pawn in Stenbock House.

I agree, it OUGHT to "make sense" - in a sensible world, to all sensible folk. Giustino, I am honestly not trying to be a pain in the ass. But I have to make one demur: 'to all BUT ONE' of Estonia's neighbors, surely.

At the height of the Bronze Soldier affair on the Russian talk shows, there was no talk of "taking back Estonia". What did they think was the best option for Estonia's Russians? "To invite them back to Russia so they can come and live with us."

Martasmimi ütles ...

...and the Wise Man said.....


"It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion."

Dean William Inge of St Paul's, London (1860--1954), Outspoken Essays, "Patriotism" (1915).

Giustino ütles ...

So the opinion among some here seems to be that history always repeats itself, Putin is the new Hitler, and he's coming to kill everyone in Europe, so we should all live our lives in paranoia and fear even if it never happens.

I would love it if someone tried to interpret other historic events and repackage them with a more urgent flavor.

I saw that Polish PM Donald Tusk recently chose Lithuania for his first foreign visit. Could the restoration of the Rzeczpospolita be next? Should Ukrainians and Belorussians ponder the next move of an expansionist Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth?

stockholm slender ütles ...

Exactly, Giustino: the current situation is not remotely comparable to 1939. It is not comparable. At all. In any which way: not comparable. Should I repeat? Estonia is now fully integrated to the West and cannot be attacked and occupied without the disintegration of the current Western organizations and Western power in general. There are not even the tiniest of signs that this would be in any way imminent. Some other differences: no insane, bloodthirsty dictators either in Berlin or even in Moscow - and an American nuclear umbrella over Nato. Yes, all this can change, but not in any foreseeable future, so there is no practical point of having these flashbacks (as natural as it is in the ex-Soviet republics that actually lived that nightmare for such a long time). Ribbentrop is not booking a flight to Moscow and Stalin is not expecting him. Their metabolic processes are now safely history, they have ceased to pine for the fjords, it’s over.

Martasmimi ütles ...

stockholm slender said...

Their metabolic processes are now safely history, they have ceased to pine for the fjords, it’s over.

Good to hear ..I feel all better now.

Max ütles ...

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

-Oscar Wilde
1854 --1900
Lord Henry, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 6 (1891).


Optimism is the opium of the people.

-Milan Kundera, The Joke, pt. 3, ch. 3 (1967).


an optimist is a guy
who has never had
much experience.

-Don Marquis
1878 --1937
U.S. humorist, journalist
archy and mehitabel, "certain maxims of archy" (1927).


Perhaps believing in good design is like believing in God, it makes you an optimist.

-Sir Terence Conran, Daily Telegraph (London, 12 June 1989).

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true.
--James Branch Cabell

Let us be of good cheer, however, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never come.
-James Russell Lowell
1819 --91
"On Democracy," speech, 6 Oct. 1884

Max ütles ...

When a subject is highly controversial. . . one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.

-Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, ch. 1 (1929).

Jens-Olaf ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Jens-Olaf ütles ...

We are talking about Nato, the West in general, the EU. I just want to add where the West could be divided, it is within the West:

DW-World:
'Foreign Policy Causing a Rift in German Coalition Government

German leaders seem split on which red carpets they should step on

A row has erupted over what should be the driving force behind Germany's foreign policy -- economics or ethics. It's making the cracks in the German coalition government increasingly visible.

The premier of the central German state of Hesse, Roland Koch, on Friday, Nov. 30, accused German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier of pursuing a harmful foreign policy that is based solely on economic interests.
"Germany has a historical obligation not to keep quiet about moral questions," Roland Koch told the Bild newspaper. "We have no right to put economics above human rights."

Koch, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), passed judgment on Steinmeier, a Social Democrat (SPD), for "creating the impression in Russia and China that we Germans are ready to do any kind of business, even when human rights are being trampled on."'

andyk ütles ...

It's not what people say, it's what they do. Defence planning is done on capability, not intent. Russia is effectively in a state of continuous disarmament. So is the rest of Europe, as a matter of fact. New purchases are a fraction of what is retired every year, and the focus is on big ticket items that are good for deterrence, but not much else: nuclear missiles, subs, etc..

plasma-jack ütles ...

Estonia is now fully integrated to the West and cannot be attacked and occupied without the disintegration of the current Western organizations and Western power in general.

After the Locarno treaties in 1925 they said there will never be a war in Europe.

Giustino ütles ...

After the Locarno treaties in 1925 they said there will never be a war in Europe.

They said that a lot after the First World War. The reality is that you cannot predict the future and you cannot live your life in paranoia about what might happen ... anywhere.

Who knew when they boarded those flights in Boston back in September 2001 that their planes were destined for the World Trade Center in New York? Nobody, except the hijackers.

Looking at past events as some kind of indicator of how the future will unfold is helpful, but it always depends which events you choose to use for your basis of interpretation and how.

Estonia did that in the 1990s. They looked back and realized that neutrality in the 30s left them isolated and dependent on Moscow. So they decided to integrate with Western economic and defense structures instead to guarantee their sovereignty.

As I pointed out earlier, people in general are more familiar with the Second World War, some were born directly after it, and often they interpret all events through the "Hitler" prism -- where the Ayatollah is the "new Hitler", followed by Saddam Hussein, followed by Ahmadinejad.

It is so ingrained in their thinking that they just can't resist applying it to all foreign policy questions. I find this line of thinking to equivalent to a foreign policy lobotomy. There is no logic behind it, other than some fuzzy idea that history is cyclical.

But the Europe of the 1930s is definitely not the Europe of the 2000s, is it? Nor is it the Europe of the 1900s or the Europe of the 1840s. Europe is no longer a continent ruled by haggling between Great Powers and "spheres of influence". The British are not, for example, trying to check German power in Scandinavia.

So if I were to predict future conflicts in Europe, I wouldn't base my analysis on the possibility of Germany trying to reacquire Stettin, or Denmark trying to take back Schleswig-Holstein.

The conflict I see, as Jens Olaf has pointed out and Edward Lucas has written about, is the economic versus ethics debate. How does a system that is constantly dealing with an illiberal state, Russia, as a partner, make ethical decisions?

If the ideal is to integrate Russia into the West, to make Russian aggression to be not in that country's interest in Europe, but to somehow export ethical, democratic government -- how can one accomplish that when you've got Gerhard Schroeder on the board of Gazprom?

Europe must choose soon whether or not it will be the continent of Schrödocracy or something else.

Giustino ütles ...

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

I recall meeting a Swiss woman who informed me that the Germans were buying up all the real estate in Schweiz as part of their evil plan to take over Europe.

The Russians are apparently buying up land on the Finnish side of the border with similar intentions.

No wonder these two nationalities seem so perky.

Would you define real estate acquisition as a national security threat? If so, one might see Brits buying summer homes on the Croatian coast as the first step to EU integration. And where there are British tourists, NATO is sure to follow!

Trek ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
stockholm slender ütles ...

re - plasma-jack

I'm not saying that such things cannot happen, or course they can. Just that at the moment there is not the slightest sign of them happening. In practical terms. These kinds of seismic historical events don't appear out of nothing, so I don't really see the practical point of having these flashbacks today. There is no acute threat, no indication of any concrete mid to long term threat, so I why worry about a highly unlikely scenario that shows, as yet, no sign of ever occurring? What would be the practical use? Estonia has already chosen its strategy (to integrate fully with the West), implemented it with high skill, and concequently she will stand or fall along with those Western structures that at the moment are completely unthreatened by any WWII or even Cold War type of existential enemy. I guess we can imagine many bad scenarios how all this could end, but I don't really see the practical use of that in these circumstances.

plasma-jack ütles ...

The reality is that you cannot predict the future and you cannot live your life in paranoia about what might happen ... anywhere.

I'm not living in paranoia. But I do reckon that with neighbours like these, many things could happen. You can call me paranoid and believe in the eternal and benevolent Western civilization. On the other hand, 20+ Estonian guys like me can call you "sinisilmsed Lääne inimesed" (:

plasma-jack ütles ...

Nobody has said that Putin is "new Hitler", that would be ridicolous. We know that he's Putin, the ex-KGB guy who became National Leader (sounds even better in German) and that's scary enough. It's not wise to forget that the very same guy has already has started one war.

stockholm slender ütles ...

What should you do then with this realistic assessment of the coming WWII - maybe Estonia should disengage from the West and pre-emptively offer some military basis to Stal..., sorry Putin? It just seems to me that it is not fruitful to fret over these outlandish scenarios. And that most that is useful has already been very effectively done. Of course, there are some internal issues that will contribute to hard national security (such as the minority question), but the essence of the matter is that Estonia is fully integrated to Western security and economic organizations and if they will crumble (of which there is no sign whatsoever at the moment), then it's not only Estonia that is in deep trouble but the whole world. Sorry, but you are not alone any more, the splendid isolation has ended.

Giustino ütles ...

I'm not living in paranoia. But I do reckon that with neighbours like these, many things could happen.

Yes, we live in a bad neighborhood. That has always been the case. But in comparison to some other neighborhoods, say in Grozny or Baghdad or Mogadishu, it isn't so bad after all.

What do you want me to say? That Russia is a threat to its neighbors? Of course. That's what the Finnish defense minister said recently.

The only comfort you'll find, Plasma-Jack, is that you are not alone. And it's not just a "post-Soviet" problem. It's a European problem.

I wonder, though, if the Greeks are still paranoid about the Turks; the Poles still paranoid about the Germans. I think that is the case. If so, what does it tell us who are farther removed from those anxieties?

Max ütles ...

If so, what does it tell us who are farther removed from those anxieties?
In essence, that jousting in Giustino's sand box is rather like being a guest in Fawlty Towers, with Giustino as Basil Fawlty/John Cleese flapping his arms and screeching: 'Don't mention the WAR!'

It's absurd to excise references to cataclysmic events which re-created the map of the world and redefined international relationships aroundd the world, not just in Europe.

And it's incredibly Pollyanna to assume that the relatively short-lived politico-economic structures and agreements of today's Europe will enjoy a permancence and viability surpassing those of the League and Locarno. NATO is creaking and groaning as its undermanned formations take casualties in A-stan, that graveyard of great imperial armies. Despite the spittle flying and champagne corks popping year after year in Brussels and Strasbourg, Europe can't get the fundamentals of a unified stand together in terms of energy, foreign polcy or defence (whatever happened to the WEU?).

Corporations are judged by their performance records, production stats and stocks. Individuals carry their CVs, health records AND criminal records with them through their lives.

So do countries and regions. Their records are called histories. One ignores major chapters in such histories at one's peril.

Simply wishing or willing a new and brighter future and insisting historic factors don't apply is naive. History is fact; the present is ephemeral and can only be understood in retrospect; and the future is always uncertain.

That's not at all a bad thing. If as individuals we could foresee every undesirable future event in our lives -- hell, many of us might just take the rope out to the barn this very day!! ;-))

"History is more interesting than politics."
-Lennart Meri

"In the past, when I shot films about fishermen and hunters, I always had to admire their ability to perceive time in its entirety. The present was always temporary.

"Our civilisation has lost this bond between times, and tends to measure time with a yardstick, bit by bit, from one point to another.

-Lennart Meri

plasma-jack ütles ...

For the record, I'm a regular 24-yeat old guy that spends most of his time thinking about booze, chicks and music. I'm just a bit allergic to the words "stability" and "progress"; I doubt in latter concept and I really don't believe in stability. But yeah, no need to dig up our kalashnikovs just yet, we can still go shopping.

Max ütles ...

Well, I'm with you, plasma-jack: kalashnikovs and things that go boom are pretty much a doomsday scenario, and I have never invoked them . I see the immediate and proximate threats coming in the form of internal destablilization through fifth columns, fiscal manipulation (Russian money), energy muscle, etc. The optics of such offensives against Estonia (and other states) are less apocalyptic, but the effects are nonetheless dramatic and fatal. Why should they invade or occupy if they can neutralize, control and manipulate? Sitting on one's bayonets is always uncomfortable, as Napoleon noted, but turning taps and effecting corporate buyouts is easy. It's being done all the time. The only defences possible are a common EU energy policy and a common EU foreign policy.

Giustino ütles ...

So do countries and regions. Their records are called histories. One ignores major chapters in such histories at one's peril.

Simply wishing or willing a new and brighter future and insisting historic factors don't apply is naive.


Well, with that in mind, why are strategists continuously writing off three countries that have played a significant role in Estonian/Baltic history: Sweden, Germany, and Poland?

Perhaps I am too much of a Scandinavianist and unable to grasp the facts at hand, but when I see the local shopping centers, banks, news media, airlines, hotels, telecommunication networks, sanitation companies, and spas owned by Nordic capital, then perhaps I am to imagine that Gustavis Adolphus has been reincarnated in some laptop-carrying, wireless-appreciating Swedish venture capitalist.

Contrast this to the first half of the last century, when Norway was a new country, Iceland was a Danish possession, Finland was loyal to the tsar, and the Swedes had yet to regain their mojo with Volvo and Ikea.

In the globalized marketplace, Estonia has become an extension of the Nordic market. Perhaps it is part of the Nordic market when you consider that those eestlased at Hansapank are moving up the chain of command. Or how about that in Tartu, there are Norwegians and Danes teaching at the Baltic Defense College.

So that's the Nordic region.

Then there is Germany. Estonia copied much of its laws from Germany in the early 90s, pegged its currency to the mark and later the euro. Germany was also generous enough to support Estonian accession to the European Union, moving the boundaries of the union eastward and making itself the new motor of the organization.

How funny it is that the Germans of the 1910s and the 1940s dreamed of making the Baltic an "inland sea of the reich." And now the Estonians, Finns, and Swedes boast that the Baltic is "an inland sea of the European Union."

There's no need to pause for the sake of irony, but ...

{pause}

Then there's Poland who is finalizing energy deals with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Surely the Poles have an interest in Lithuanian nuclear power, and surely they plan to stay.

We could also bring in the Brits here, giving the support they have historically lent to countries on the Baltic, including Finland and Poland. In fact, wasn't Estonian independence achieved with the help of British naval power and Finnish volunteers?

All is not lost, Max. So, please, go shopping. And John Cleese is a hero of mine. Thank you for the comparison.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Dear me, I have not denied the possibility of all sorts future disasters. I have merely pointed out that at the moment they are obviously not so close that we should expect the imminent return of WWII. So we really cannot take any practical actions to prevent this return from happening. History is of central importance, and yes, there are repeating patterns in it, but it doesn't seem ever to replicate itself identically. Most of time preparing for the last war has actually been a mistake, if we talk about practical lessons of history... So, I'm not proclaiming that history has ended, just that at the moment it doesn't seem sensible to lose sleep over total hypotheticals. Or do these vivid flashbacks have some practical value?

Trek ütles ...

So, I'm not proclaiming that history has ended, just that at the moment it doesn't seem sensible to lose sleep over total hypotheticals.

Exactly. I can sit around all day and think about horrible scenarios for Estonia, but I don't curl up under the covers at night and listen for tanks rolling down Pärnu mnt.

And pretty much any scenario I can think of means Estonia wouldn't be the only country that would be having a bad time of things. Not like Russia is going to invade Estonia just because it means so much to them. You'd be talking about the failure of NATO and the EU and an ensuing continental/worldwide conflict.

Max ütles ...

Excellent, Giustino, and all true. Perhaps I should stop peering closely at the cornerstones of the Viru Keskus and Kaubamaja in apprehension, fearing to discover inscribed there the text of Shelley's 'Ozymandias'?
:-)

Nope, all true, re the Balto-Scandic progress. But in enumerating the stalwart service done by various particpants in forging the links of Euro unity, you DID leave out the CV of one chap: 'who has learned to eat acorns and acts like a bear, but still walks upright like a man.' Hell, that's what I was anticipaing after your ironic pause. That's the history I was alluding to in my last posting.

The allusion to the Baltic as 'an inland sea of the EU' as too was apt. There's another historic irony here. I've often thought of the new Scando-Baltic symbiosis as a reincarnation of the Kalmar Union (qv) which after all was never formally dissolved. ;-) On the other hand, one shouldn't rename the Mare Balticum as Mare Nostra . (Musso did that with the Med, and he ended up swinging by his heels.)

Quite right too that full credit must be given to the Germans for their solid support of the Baltics, notwithstanding the karuteened of that prostitute* Schröder (*California Rep. Tom Lantos' sobriquet for him, but one I echo with glee).

In many ways, the halcyon days of Baltic-German relations were in the early days of post-restoration, when the German ambassador to Tallinn was Baron Henning von Wisinghausen (scion of an old Tallinn family), the ambassador to Riga was the younger Baron von Lambsdorff (scion of an old Baltic family) while his father, the elder Baron v. Lambsdorff sat as a Free Democrat in Kohl's ruling coalition. One felt then that in addition to national interests, 'historic' vested interests were represented at a level of personal diplomacy, especially with Lennart Meri at our end.

Well, I figured you would know and love Cleese, but I'd like you to picture him in the persona of Basil Fawlty whenever you cry: 'For God's sake, don't mention the war!' Remember how his guests and staff reacted?


All is not lost, Max.

... as the guy said when he phoned his wife from Las Vegas.

Caution and panic are poles apart. And I may at times be discouraged and disappointed, but I'm in no wise close to despair.

By the way, you DO know the difference between disappointment and despair, don't you?

Disappointment is when you discover for the first time that you can't make it the second time. Despair is when you discover for the second time that you can't make it the first time. (Herr Pfizer need not interject any plugs for his product, and I don't want to hear from the liars, just from their wives and girl friends!) Ah, you young chaps don't know yet...


So, please, go shopping.

I will, and right now, to stock up on personal lubricants (2 varieties) so as to prepare for re-entry into the circle-jerk.

Max ütles ...

The most terrible fight is not when there is one opinion against another, the most terrible is when two men say the same thing --and fight about the interpretation, and this interpretation involves a difference of quality.

-Søren Kierkegaard
Journals, 1850 entry.

Max ütles ...

"Oh, I could spend the rest of my life having this conversation - look - please try to understand before one of us dies."
-John Cleese

Max ütles ...

Pssst! Trek,

Don't say 'tanks' or 'invade'.

Gets Basil all worked up....

Giustino ütles ...

Pssst! Trek,

Don't say 'tanks' or 'invade'.

Gets Basil all worked up....


Don't worry, Max. Trek will be there with us in the English-speaking cross country-skiing kamikaze platoon protecting Vastseliina from Pets, er, Pechory on that glorious day of disappointment.

I expect you'll be there as well, Kirkegaard book in tow for good luck and body armor.

But in enumerating the stalwart service done by various particpants in forging the links of Euro unity, you DID leave out the CV of one chap:

He hasn't quite figured out what to do yet. Our friend in Daugavpils thinks he wants to turn Latvia into a guberniya with a flag and an Olympic team.

But one advantage Estonia has is that most of the "objectives" listed on its CV have been achieved. This country has an agenda, articulated since restoration -- to be a high-tech, wealthy, northern European country.

The problem with the "objectives" on the bear's CV is that they are vague and unrealistic.

Since Russia began to engage the Estland and Livland provinces it has been that way.

They wanted everyone to be Orthodox and made them more devout Lutherans. They wanted to make the maarahvas Russians and they turned into Estonians. Later, they wanted to make the Estonians communists and gave birth to the generation of Mart Laar and Andrus Ansip. It's been quite a spectacular 150 years of failure, hasn't it?

It's quite apt that you would mention Mussolini. Like Mussolini, Putin made the trains run on time. Like Mussolini, Putin wants Russia to be great. And, like Mussolini, he really has no idea how to define greatness or how to achieve it. It's an empty mission statement: 'we want to be powerful and respected.'

Good for you, Russia. Don't we all.

The reason they have to whine about the US at every turn is not because they've been slighted, but because they don't know who they are. All they know is that Russia is "supposed to be great" and "have status" and "greatness" and "status" are defined within their perceptions of the United States.

If the US does it, then Russia should copy it to achieve the power and status of the US. If the OSCE doesn't send election observers, then it's at the request of the arch villain Americans and shouldn't be taken seriously. Russians are building their whole essence in response to their perception of the US.

It all comes back to Peter and his city in a Finnish swamp. He wanted to build Amsterdam without the values. A fake Europe that continues to fall apart for the same reasons.

The West keeps telling them that if they build a state that way, it won't last for long. But they never listen.

plasma-jack ütles ...

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0529664120071205

Has anybody here any doubt that Russian is very close to being a genuinely fascist state, with a National Leader who has the majority's support? What would happen if Russia has an economic crash and the controlled democracy decides to start a war to mobilize the masses? Like it happened in 1999? What if US had another moron as a President?
Still, I think that Georgia would be the first target, if that scenario came to past. So, we can still go to pub and that's it. If and when a new war reaches Estonia, we're hopefully too old to fight and thanks to our outstanding social positions, mercifully shot during the first days of occupation. But yeah, this won't affect today's life, so let's eat, play and be merry. Cheers (:

Trek ütles ...

Don't worry, Max. Trek will be there with us in the English-speaking cross country-skiing kamikaze platoon protecting Vastseliina from Pets, er, Pechory on that glorious day of disappointment.

Just watch me get all Red Dawn on their ass. "Wolverines!" Er, I mean, ah..."Barn Swallows!!!"

Max ütles ...

The West keeps telling them that if they build a state that way, it won't last for long. But they never listen.

What?? Here I am, back from shopping (zu Befähl!) with 'personal lubricants' supply replenished, and you've left me with no loose ends to pick at?
:-)

Well, there remains only my sincere approbation. "I give you the clap," as a Polish friend once said to initiate applause after I'd said a few words at a wedding banquet. (His lapse in idiom was immediately forgiven and quickly explained to him.)

Your detailing of endemic flaws in Russian policy past and present gives comfort to those of us who at times can foresee little relief from the mindless bullying and swagger of the current Kremlin crew.

I suppose the hyper-centralization of Kremlin authority - which exceeds even the degree of centralization of Soviet years - is another built-in flaw. Satisfying for a control-freak like Vlad, but guaranteed to replicate and multiply policy and adminstrative errors made at the top right across the land.

I just feel sorry for the brave youngsters of Oborona and 'The Other Russia' who must take the full brunt of Kremlin bullying with little access to external support...

The course Putin has set for his unfortunate people is quite mad. Brings to mind Euripides' line about 'whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.'

Max ütles ...

Trek said:
Just watch me get all Red Dawn on their ass. "Wolverines!" Er, I mean, ah..."Barn Swallows!!!"


I'd like to cheer you guys too. Uhh... But it's tough. Yelling 'BEAVER' (Canuck national animal) might be, uh, misunderstood!

dissertation ütles ...

I liked this post very much as it has helped me a lot in my research and is quite interesting as well. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

buy essays on patriotism