winter war

The Winter War




cliche used to controversial
calm turf (2) authoritative
facile reel (2) blow/blew/blown (2)
assert sarcasm aforementioned
fjord require stretch (2)
crisis furious apparently
threat appears overwhelming
fleet existence outnumbered
annex convince sovereignty
claim obviously negotiation
mortal rout (2) cramp (2)
defend dwarf (2) puppet (2)
pro (2) drip (2) remarkable
futile request proportionate
troops menace population
snark motivated manage (2)
battle thesis (2) camouflage
guess cut down snowshoes
versus casualty resourceful
topple suffer (2) shoot down
extent put up (2) incredibly
expect resistance cause celeb
cheer wave (4) settlement (2)
topple sarcasm run roughshod
cede spike (3) contradictory
army apologize justification
air parrot (2) congratulations
ensure force (3) fundamental
oppose apply (2) foregone conclusion
favor wild (3) recommend
wheat effective parliament
invade erase (2) consequence
grain stockpile pharmaceutical
oat respond run roughshod
go cart objective underground (2)
mine reservoir remote (2)
lane blow up headquarters
granite implicit decapitate (2)
fail take over pound away






One of the easy, and I think, basically false clichés about the media, about the news media, is that the news used to be way better, that the news used to not be controversial, that the news used to be always spoken in a calm, authoritative voice with no snark, and no attitude, and everybody agreed, it was just the facts.

That’s as far as it went. You hear that kind of facile cliché about what the news used to be. You hear it all the time. Even very smart people assert that that was true, that the media and the good old days, and couldn’t we just go back to that?

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The problem with that is that if you actually go back and listen to what the news was like, in the good old days, it blows that thesis out of the water almost instantly.

Take for example the dripping sarcasm in this news reel from the aforementioned good old days.

BBC New Reel, from 1939

“Peaceful Finland, that distant northern country of lakes and fjords, of sailing ships and summer bathing beaches, has been invaded and bombed.

The long crisis of apparently futile negotiation with Moscow had ended with an attack of overwhelming power. The reason for this: the Soviet Union, the nation of some 180 millions, has been threatened by the four millions in Finland.

The huge Russian air force, probably the biggest in the world, fears for its very existence. And the Red fleet is no doubt being menaced by Finland’s two or three warships.

What are the real facts?”

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The good old days of voice of good authoritative news with no snark. That was a 1939 British news real, just dripping with sarcasm.

As to why on earth the Soviet Union felt like it could convince anybody that the reason it needed to invade the neighboring nation of Finland was because it was a threat to it, when obviously Finland was no threat.

I mean, just like what Putin is claiming about Ukraine, right now, the Soviet Union claimed that they were in mortal danger from the much, much smaller country on the border, this country with a much, much, much smaller military. A country that was doing nothing at all to menace its much larger neighbor to the east.

Just like what Putin is saying about Ukraine, the Soviet Union said the same thing about Finland in 1939.

But the Soviet army did invade Finland, in late 1939.

And it appears that their plan was to topple the government in Finland — probably in a matter of few days. They thought it would not be hard.

The Soviet military went in by land, by sea, and by air. They used about 100,000 troops, which was huge. Their military just dwarfed the military force that the Finns had to defend themselves.

And their plan was their Soviet Union but basically just take Finland, install their own puppet, pro-Soviet government — or maybe just even just annex Finland, make Finland of part of the USSR. Erase it as a sovereign country.

Again, they didn’t think that it would be hard; they thought maybe it would take a few days.

It did not work that way.

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The Finns, in 1939, fought them off FURIOUSLY! I mean, at the time, there were 4 million, less than 4 million people in Finland. 180 million people in the Soviet Union, and proportionate militaries to those populations.

The Finns were outnumbered, they were wildly outgunned.

But they were also resourceful, they were fighting on their home turf, and they were more motivated than you could possibly imagine. They were defending their homes.

That was called the Winter War. It started when the Soviets invaded in late 1939. I’m sure Stalin thought his forces would be home for the New Year.

Instead, it stretched on into 1940. The Finns were this remarkable white winter camouflage. They fought on skis and snowshoes. And they just cut down the invading Soviet forces.

Finland, in fact, didn’t have its own air force, at all. but they still managed to shoot down dozens of Soviet airplanes.

One famous battle in central Finland, it was 6,000 Finnish troops versus more than 20,000 Soviet troops. And the Finns just routed them. Despite it being outnumbered to such a massive extent, the Soviets suffered huge casualties, hundreds of thousands of casualties ultimately in their Finland invasion.

And the western world was shocked. The Western world had thought that the Soviets would’ve won in just a few days too. And the Soviets thought that. Everyone else looking in thought that.

When the Finns put up this unexpected and incredibly effective resistance, they became a cause celeb all over the United States. Even though the government didn’t send them as much practical help as much they wanted, we still cheered them on.

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In the end, although it didn’t go the way he expected to in the beginning, Stalin regrouped, he sent in not another hundred thousand soviet troops, but more like half a million Soviet troops to get the job done.

The population of Finland was less than 4 million people, in the whole country. Stalin had to send in half a million troops to finish the invasion in the end.

But the Finns still fought on. They held their ground for weeks, even after the half million Soviet troops arrived in that second wave of the invasion. The Finns were able to hold on, ultimately, for more than 100 days.

And in the end, it did end. The Finnish government was not toppled. They negotiated a peace with the Soviets. And then negotiated settlement was bad for Finland.

But it was nowhere near as bad as what Stalin had intended for when he invaded in the first place, and just thought he would run roughshod over the place.

In the negotiation settlement of the winter war, Finland did have to cede about 10% of its territory to the Soviets, which is bad.

But, they stayed Finland. They kept their independence as a nation. They kept their sovereignty, they kept their way of government. The even got to keep their army. They got to stay who they are.

And they also never forgot it.

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And because Russia invaded Ukraine, support has spiked in Finland and also in neighboring Sweden for those two countries to now join NATO. They never wanted to before. But now they do.

One of the million different contradictory justifications Putin’s given to why he needed to invade Ukraine, when you often hear parroted in this country apologizing for Putin, is this idea that Putin felt cramped by NATO, that too many countries to the west of Russia had join NATO, they were too close to Russian borders.

So he had to invade Ukraine to ensure that Ukraine would never join NATO. He’s met this case that the reason for the war, one reason for this invasion, is that Putin can stand the feeling of having any NATO countries right up against Russia’s borders.

Well, congratulations, Mr. Putin. Guess what you got for invading Ukraine? Even a Finland alone joins NATO, you will just norm then double the Russian border with NATO countries. Well done.

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Sweden’s ruling party, the Social Democrats, have always been against Sweden joining NATO, as has the Swedish public. But now both the Swedish public and that ruling party in Sweden have changed their minds.

In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party put out a statement yesterday, they said, “When Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden’s security position changed fundamentally.”

So even though they have always been opposed to Sweden joining NATO, they are now expected to favor it, and the Swedish has decided on applying for NATO membership, as soon as this summer.

Even sooner than that, it looks like Finland is going to make its request to join. And NATO will say “Yes” when these countries ask.

One recent poll in Finland shows that even though, just a couple of years ago, a majority of the Finnish public did not want their country to join NATO, since Putin invaded Ukraine, they are sure in favor of it now.

The Finnish people are now 68% in favor of joining, and that number spikes to 77% in favor of joining, if the finish government studies the issue and decides to recommend it.

Next, week the Finnish government is going to present a security review on this issue to their parliament. A recent survey of members of the Finnish parliament says that of the 200 members of parliament, they have the 200 members of parliament, 194 are in favor of Finland joining NATO.

That’s 194 in favor, six against, which means the Finnish government is going to recommend that they join NATO. And the Finnish public is going to support them. And it is going to pass. And it is going to pass soon, apparently.

A former prime minister of Finland tells the AFP this week that it is a foregone conclusion that Finland will request NATO membership, and the requests will happen within the next few weeks. It will happen in time for the next NATO summit in June.

Now, Russia has responded by threatening that there’s going to be consequences of that happens. Consequences, including military consequences, if two new nations join NATO.

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But these aren’t just two countries, particularly Finland. Since the Winter War in 1940, Finland has been getting ready for those kinds of threats from this country that invaded them before, and at least now is implicitly threatening that they might do it again.

Finland is actually remarkably ready for those threats. In Finland, the country maintain secure stockpiles of at least a six month supply of all major food grains, things like oats, and wheat.

They also maintain a six month stockpile of all major fuel supplies. They require all pharmaceutical companies and Finland to keep secure stockpiles of several months worth of all major imported drugs.

Every building above a certain size and Finland is required to have a bomb shelter. That is on top of a national plan that repurposes underground parking garage, ice rinks, and pools into civilian shelters in the event of an invasion.

In the country’s capital, in Helsinki, they have built 10 million square meters of underground space, underneath Helsinki proper. It includes — it’s not just like shelters and subway stations. it’s an art museum, and a church, and a huge swimming complex, and a mall, and a go carting track! You know, you might need it!

A huge drinking water reservoir. All underground, all beneath the capital city of Helsinki. For safety.

One former defense minister in Finland telling the financial times this week how, quote, “Detailed planning is in place for how to handle an invasion, including the deployment of fighter jets to remote roads around the country, the laying of mines in key shipping lanes, the preparation of land defenses such as blowing up bridges.”

He says, quote, “All armed forces headquarters are located in hillsides under 30 to 40 meters of granite.”

So they are ready.

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And here we have Russia failing in Ukraine. They thought they would run roughshod over Ukraine. They thought they would take Kyiv within days. They thought they would decapitate the Ukrainian government and take over the country in less than a week. It is now 47 days after this, there continue to pound away having failed in all of their objectives.

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Ukraine. Journalists and media reports have always been accurate, objective, detailed, unbiased and balanced. True or false? What did the presenter say about what people think?

Finland. Did the presenter give an example of traditional news coverage? What was the new report about?

Sweden, Norway, Denmark. In 1939, Finland invaded the Soviet Union, and so the Soviet Union defended itself. Is this right or wrong? Is the Winter War relevant to current events?

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. What did the entire world (except Finland) think at the beginning of the Winter War? Did the war unfold as everyone had expected? Did other countries actively help Finland?

Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. In the end, Finland won. Finland defeated the Soviet Union. Is this correct or incorrect? What were the consequences of the Winter War?

Poland. Has the mood of the government and public of Finland changed (gradually)? How has public and government sentiment changed in Finland? Why has it changed?

Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic. What will Finland and Sweden plan on doing? What are their present goals? Does Vladimir Putin feel he has achieved his goals?

Romania, Moldova. Is Finland prepared or unprepared for a Russian military invasion?
Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro. Is your country part of a military alliance or trading block? Who is considered a potential “enemy” or “threat”?

Bulgaria, Macedonia. What have been some historical lessons? Does history shape current policies and public attitudes? Does history repeat itself?

Croatia, Slovenia. Is the public divided over war and geopolitics? Are there debates, disagreements and arguments over geopolitics and war?

Greece, Cyprus. How could the current situation be solved?

Turkey. What might happen in the future?

Germany, France, UK. How could future conflicts be avoided?

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