Thursday, May 11, 2023

Ganz: Madam Prime Minister...
 Lily Lynch in the  NLR

Finland is gripped by wartime mania. News reports show mothers baking celebratory NATO cakes, online sales of NATO flags are soaring, and a Savonlinna-based brewing company has recently rolled out a NATO-themed beer, Otan olutta (the first word is a play on the French acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; the full name means ‘I’ll have some beer’ in Finnish). The outgoing Social Democratic Prime Minister Sanna Marin has repeatedly emphasized the similarities between the 1939 Finnish–Russian War and today’s conflict in Ukraine. Hundreds of Finns, including the former chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, have paid to have personalized messages inscribed on Ukrainian artillery shells fired at Russian forces.

The discourse reached fever-pitch last week when Finland officially entered NATO, almost exactly 75 years after declaring its policy of neutrality. Some 78% of the population supported the move, but this was a recent development. In 2017, that figure stood at only 21%. The newfound Atlanticist fervour has been spearheaded by Marin, whose status as the world’s youngest Prime Minister and penchant for clubbing in Helsinki had already attracted international attention, netting her a luminous profile in British Vogue. Her tough line on Russia later consolidated her stardom. In March she visited Kyiv and laid flowers at the grave of Dmytro Kotsiubailo, a leading figure in the far-right Pravyi Sektor. She also called for heavier arms shipments to Ukraine and backed the construction of a 124-mile fence along Finland’s eastern border, replete with barbed wire to stop Russian men fleeing conscription.

Marin’s Natophilia transformed her into a beacon of hope for Europe’s new progressivism. Light on substance but eminently Instagrammable, this political tendency bases its appeal not on a coherent ideological outlook but on a feel-good millennial relatability. Its modernizing ethos owes more to the New World than the Old; it is just as at home at the Bilderberg Group annual meeting and the WEF stage as it is at the nightclub or pride parade. Under Marin, it has used the moral capital of Nordic pacifism – and the associated traditions of feminism, neutrality and social democracy – in order to destroy it.

...The far right’s rising fortunes have been met with curiously muted concern in foreign media outlets, perhaps mindful not to damage Finland’s standing as it enters NATO. In the days after the election, Atlanticist think-tankers and commentators were quick to point out that Marin’s loss did not signal a rejection of the military alliance. In a narrow sense, they are correct. Yet the fact remains that, following the electoral defeats of North Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev in 2021 and Sweden’s Magdalena Andersson in 2022, Marin is the third European social democrat to have brought their country into NATO before losing the next election to the right. What does this pattern tell us? Perhaps that a single-minded focus on Euro-Atlantic integration has deprived such parties of their historic purpose and neglected more pressing matters.

The Odeon was the hotspot bistro in TriBeCa in the 80s to the 90s. It was great place to come in after midnight, covered in dust after a long day for a martini, some oysters and a steak. It's still around. The last time I was there late it was dead, and not good. And coming in covered in dust isn't acceptable in bistros in Manhattan anymore, or anywhere else in NY for that matter. Amusing that Ganz picked The Odeon and not Balthazar, which I heard bad things about at its height: the food sucked, though the bakery was great. But the Odeon has value as nostalgia, the decadence of the past, and Balthazar is decadence of the present. McNally lost the Odeon to his wife in the divorce.

In related news, the deputy editor of Foreign Policy doesn't know the history of American foreign policy.

9/9/23, Euronews: "Finland's former PM Sanna Marin leaves parliament for Blair foundation"

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