To repel an invasion from the East:

Artillery, 155 millimeters

Artillery shells, 152 millimeters as many as possible

Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (“Grad”, “Smerch”, “Tornado” or M142 HIMARS)

Armored vehicles (armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, others)

Tanks (T-72 tanks or similar tanks from the USA or Germany)

Air defense systems (S-300, “BUK” or western equivalents)

Military aircraft—MUST HAVE—to deblock Ukraine’s cities and save millions of Ukrainians as well as millions of Europeans)


The Silent Estate? [Vaikeneva valtiomahti?]
by Esko Salminen.

Kleio ja nykypäivä. Edita. Helsinki, 1996. 323 pp.

In this newly-published study, Esko Salminen gives a detailed analysis of the process of ‘Finlandization’ as it affected the Finnish press and other public media during the period 1968-1991. The book is remarkable in being the first full-length Finnish-language work to deal with the entire history of this delicate subject in all its ramifications, and the author is not afraid to name names and give chapter and verse where necessary. There is a fascinating photographic section, with reproductions of Finnish press reports and photo-reportage.

The term ‘Finlandization’ is of German origin (Finnlandisierung), and was first used in 1966 by Richard Löwenthal, Professor of Political Science at the Free University of Berlin to describe a certain type of domination of a small state by a larger one. The process by which the Soviet Union pressured Finland into accepting a far-reaching control of its public and educational media monitored not directly from Moscow, but via the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki, came to stand throughout the 1970s and 80s as a warning to other Western states as to what might await them as the Soviet Union increased its power and influence over the whole of Europe in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In the six parts of his volume, Esko Salminen shows how the development of Finlandization proceeded from events in Finland’s immediate postwar history, such as the so-called ‘Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance’ (YYA-sopimus) that Finland was made to sign with the Soviet Union in 1948. He also demonstrates how the process was inextricably linked with the political careers of three Finnish presidents: Juho Paasikivi, Urho Kekkonen, and Mauno Koivisto. In addition, he gives a full and circumstantial account of the methods by which the Soviet domination of Finland’s press and media was implemented, with particular emphasis on the phenomenon of ‘self-censorship’ (itsesensuuri), whereby strict limitations on freedom of speech and expression were imposed not from outside, but by the Finnish media themselves.

‘Self-censorship’, in the way that it was practised in Finland during the 1970s and 80s, has always been difficult for non-Finns to understand. Salminen demonstrates that it was essentially a two-edged weapon, which ultimately rebounded on the Soviets themselves. In the early part of his volume Salminen describes the elaborate arrangements that were made at the Soviet Embassy’s press department in Tehtaankatu in order to monitor the columns and editorials of the Finnish newspapers. These arrangements were felt by the Soviet authorities to be necessary, since while it was a relatively simple matter to control and influence the news and information output of Finnish state radio and television, the heterogeneous and traditionally independent nature of the Finnish press made it much more difficult to exert pressure on it. What emerges from Salminen’s long and well-documented study of Finlandization as it affected two major news topics – the exiling of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan – and from his analysis of Finnish news coverage (or non-coverage) of events in the Baltic States (especially Estonia), is that for many Finnish newspaper editors and journalists, self-censorship was a strategic instrument that was used to preserve press freedom, rather than destroy it. A revealing interview with William Rees-Mogg, former editor of the London Times, one of the Western newspapers that did much to publicize to the rest of the world Finland’s problems in the area of information control, shows how this was possible – and also links the specifically Finnish context to a general European one.

In the post-Cold War era it might be thought that ‘Finlandization’ and ‘self-censorship’ would become obsolete concepts. However, Salminen convincingly demonstrates that, having been aggressively active in Finnish political life as recently as 1986, they are still part of the fabric of the Finnish political system – he refers, in particular, to the question of Finland’s future membership of NATO, to the silence of the Finnish press on this subject, and to Max Jakobson’s lonely foray into the details of this vexed issue in 1996. Above all, Salminen stresses that now that Finland, as a member of the European Union, has provided Europe’s first border with Russia, it is incumbent on both Finland and the other European member states to make sure that the ‘larger entity’ of the Union remains a force for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression. Where the Soviet Union failed, Europe must succeed – for the possibility of a resuscitation of the old order, and of the old rule of fear, cannot be wholly excluded.

Van Gogh’s Ear

Am working on a translation of ‘Van Goghs øre’ from  ‘Lyden af skyer’



The unknown Vincent van Gogh
settles in the Yellow House in Arles
on the recommendation of his brother Theo,
Vincent paints under a wild sun,
is intoxicated by the landscape there.

There is no colour that does not exist
in the grass, in the grain, in the leaves on the trees,
everything moves in the wind,
colour and brush strokes show the power,
show the direction of movement.

Vincent the younger admires Paul Gauguin,
who has come to the same district, lives
in the same house, the anger
against him accelerates, Theo
is Paul’s dealer in Paris, Paul paints

the same landscapes, the same houses,
harvests of grapes and grain, the old wives,
scenes from the bar in Arles, blue trees, paints more freely
from imagination, Vincent
with short, powerful strokes
based on the specific object:
a field, a sunflower, a seedsman,
the reality he sees and hears,
nature, light, spirit, the ravages of the wind.

Vincent with tensed nerves, Vincent
with razor, Paul’s
directions for escape here, there, Paul
taken in for interrogation and forced confessions,
the bitterness shatters glass, shards
fly around,
poisonous shouting, drunken quarrelling,
the knife against Paul, the anger
chops the air.

Paul is the one with the strength, Vincent does not succeed
in assaulting his friend,
he hurts himself in defeat
instead, drawn
by an inner storm
into a blizzard of madness.

The rage hunts darkly, a spontaneous ignition
of reproaches must come out,
Vincent doesn’t just cut the lobe of an ear,
he cuts off his whole left ear,

hallucinated haze behind the eyes,
Vincent wraps the ear in newspaper,
hands it
to a maid at the brothel:
Take good care of this item.

The severed ear in bloody paper,
the severed ear hears nothing,

it does not hear that
immediately afterwards Paul
takes the train back to Paris.

The doctor Félix Rey at the hospital in Arles
draws in his notes the complete ear,
a dotted line shows how close to the head
the incision has gone.

Take care of this item,
on the front page of the local newspaper there is a report
dated December 30, 1898, about the incident,
where the young maid at the brothel passes out.

For personal reasons Vincent cut off
his own ear, Félix Rey writes to Vincent’s brother Theo,
Vincent has entrusted to the doctor
no further details about the motive.

After two weeks in the hospital Vincent
is back in the Yellow House,
mentally deranged,
one breakdown follows another,
only a glass too much helps him.

Vincent knows neither what he says
nor does, whom he curses, paints
sleepwalker-like two portraits of himself
with his head in a bandage,

paints a still life: onions on a plate
surrounded by a candle in a candle-holder, a box of matches,
an empty absinthe bottle, pipe and tobacco,
an envelope with a letter from Theo,
his only financial support,
a self-help book.

The sound can’t be cut away
by severing the outer ear,
the funnel catches and leads

the sound into the middle ear,
where it is amplified
and transmitted
to the inner ear.

Dissatisfied neighbours want Vincent
out of the Yellow House,
demand that he be sent to an asylum,

he voluntarily admits himself to the
Saint Paul de Mausole
Psychiatric Hospital
in Saint Rémy on May 8, 1889,

Vincent paints indoors, paints outside,
the best cure for him, the brush
ploughs out pictures
of the trees and plants of the garden, of the corridors
of the hospital,
the one-eyed man and other patients,
the colours swagger,
chrome yellow, emerald green, blue-violet,

when the seizures come,
he leaves brushes and tubes of paint alone.

One year and many pictures later
Vincent leaves Saint Rémy,
moves to Auvers near Theo, paints

his last works with violently nervous strokes,
the brush sways uneasily, colours swirl
whiteness forth, panic,
writes to Theo:
My life has been attacked at the very root.

Screams his emotions out on the canvas,
paints over the edge in a roar,
steered by light,
a spiral of nothing,

lets the paintings be
the paintings they are,
four months later takes
his own life
to at last be free
of himself.


Ett stort kålhuvud tänker,

men inte på kålsoppa:

Det tänker på Afrikas milda frikadeller

hoppande lätt över savannen


A big head of cabbage thinks,

but not about cabbage soup:

It thinks about Africa’s gentle meatballs

hopping lightly over the savannah


I would like to translate some poems by Ekelöf, but am uncertain about the copyright situation.