The war in Georgia and threat perceptions

Måndag, 27. Oktober 2008     0 kommentti(a)

A fairly common question in many of the venues I spend time in is, what are the repercussions of ”Georgia” for Finnish security and defense policy? Speculation about how the upcoming Finnish government white paper will address the August war is also rampant.

Using the Georgian war as a foil, Major Jyri Raitasalo and Captain Jarno Limnell at the National Defence University’s Department of Strategic and Defence Studies have produced a well written paper about differing and changing threat perceptions and assessments. The authors briefly describe the expanding and globalized threat perceptions-assessments prevalent in Western Europe and the United States, as well as Russia’s different threat perceptions-assessments, which mirror considerably more traditional pol-mil security considerations.

According to Raitasalo and Limnell, Finland continues to balance between these two types of threat perceptions, appropriating some from both. As a result, the authors do not think that events in Georgia necessitate quick changes to Finland’s threat assessments or security and defense policies. Rather, they feel that Finland has been on the correct path all along, taking into consideration increased interdependence and the expended menu of security threats, while always considering threats that could concretely threaten territorial integrity or sovereignty. The paper concludes by arguing that Finland should continue to consider both new non-military threats as well as more traditional military threats in its security assessments.

In a broader context, it is a credit to the Finnish Defence Forces and the Ministry of Defence that they kept their heads cool during the past decade, and withstood the domestic and international onslaught of invective and snide remarks breathlessly hurled at them by the “New Threats All the Time” brigade. As Limnell and Raitasalo point out, Finnish defense planners (and politicians) continued to recognize the possibility of a military threat, and did their job accordingly.

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