Partners for peace
On preparation, Eisenhower's wisdom, and Finland's new membership in NATO
Now that Turkey has given its consent, all 30 member countries of NATO have ratified Finland's accession to the mutual-defense alliance. Finland's president has thanked them all and promised that his country "will be a strong and capable ally, committed to the security of the alliance".
■ The conditions that precipitated Finland's accession -- to be followed soon by Sweden, it must be hoped -- are terrible ones. It's plainly the case that Russia's attack on Ukraine lit the fire. But the clarity afforded by the moment is useful.
■ Whatever Russian president Vladimir Putin and his apologists might try to say to the contrary, there's only one aggressor in the region. Russia started a war against Ukraine, and sensible parties nearby realized that neutrality was no longer an option. NATO remains a defensive force.
■ Aggressors aren't dissuaded by weakness, indifference, or disarray. They are, however, deterred by evidence that there will be consequences to their actions. We can try to make it more complicated than that, but there's no reason for it. Peace, unfortunately, requires costs and preparations. Dwight Eisenhower advised as much seven decades ago: "[A]s long as there persists a threat to freedom, [free nations] must, at any cost, remain armed, strong, and ready for the risk of war."
■ The reasoning for the enlargement of a defensive alliance like NATO doesn't require a doctoral degree in international relations. Any reasonable adult can examine the evidence and see that voluntary cooperation to mutually deter and repel attack from a belligerent nearby is just that -- a deterrent. May Finland's membership in NATO be the stabilizing, peace-reinforcing move it deserves, and by rights ought, to be.