Despite this position of neutrality, there has been an ongoing discussion about the possibility of joining NATO and a commitment to retain their massive stockpile of landmines despite the rest of the EU signing the Landmine ban treaty and pressures by EU States, and the rest of the world, for them to do the same. They also have a leading role concerning Kosovo and peacekeepers in Afghanistan.
The issue at the moment is whether Finland should increase its presence in Afghanistan.
There is concern that Finland is overextending itself militarily, partly in issues that some believe do not concern Finland, such as the War on Terror. There has already been a decision to withdraw their peacekeepers from Lebanon. Now some are pushing for the same to happen in Afghanistan. Take this commentary published online on Finland's leading newspaper titled "COMMENTARY: Send condoms, not rifles, to Afghanistan":
Finland also has a so-called good reputation around the world. Although Finland is in Afghanistan for legitimate reasons, the mission could damage this reputation.
War is rough; it is hell, as one of the best American generals, William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–1891) said.
Like any other soldier, a Finn is capable of shooting a prisoner of war, or raping a civilian. In a theatre of operations like Afghanistan, the likelihood of such an event is greater than in a traditional peacekeeping operation. [Note: Shooting someone, maybe yes, but not a prisoner. (Technically, there are no recognized prisoners of war, only illegal combatants.) Rape, no. Not for anything, she does not convey a very high opinion of Finnish peacekeepers. They are volunteers and are much better educated than those coming from countries that have been involved in rape issues.]
If this were to happen, the sad news would be remembered around the world for a long time. [Note: Not likely]
A different kind of hypothesis: what if a Finnish patrol were to stop a car in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden in it? Would Finland hand bin Laden over to the Americans, incur the hatred of militant Muslims, and thus increase the likelihood of a terror attack in Finland? - Helsingin Sanomat
Well here is a secret for this reporter, if they want to hate you, they will find a reason to do so:
We spoke at some length with the Imam about the worldviews of the Muslim community in Finland. He believed that the views could be divided into three groups.
Firstly there are the Finnish converts who, despite having become Muslim by faith, remain ‘Finnish’ in all other ways, including knowing their rights as citizens.
The second group are immigrants who have escaped bad situations in their countries of birth and as a result feel a sense of gratitude to the country that has given them refuge.
The third group, which he believes to be the majority amongst Muslim immigrants across Europe, feel that it was the activities and policies of ‘the West’ that led to them having to leave their homeland – be that for economic reasons or non-economic reasons such as war. As a result, they feel that they owe no gratitude to the countries where they now live.
This sentiment will only be amplified if they face prejudice or a lack of opportunities once resident in Europe. Importantly, ‘the West’ is seen as a bloc – in many ways a mirror image of how the West tends to view “the Muslim World” in an undifferentiated way. Therefore Finland’s history as a young nation with a past of being a colony itself, makes no difference to it being seen as part of ‘the West’.
Two anecdotal stories Imam Chehab recounted to us suggest that if an individual already has a certain mindset – in this case that of Finland as part of the ‘oppressive West’ – then they will retrospectively find the ‘evidence’ to support this.
The first case concerned a TV documentary shown some years ago about the birth of Israel. One of the elderly Zionists who was interviewed noted that there had been a small number of Finns who had fought with them. Rather than dismissing these as probable mercenaries, adventurers or crackpots, the Imam remembered this was discussed by some as evidence that Finland was supportive of Israel and not sympathetic to the Palestinians.
Another similar anecdote was about a member of the congregation who showed the Imam an article he had discovered in an obscure history journal noting that during the 11th century Crusades, there was a Finnish regiment amongst the Christian armies which was reputed to be particularly blood-thirsty. This again was taken as indicative of Finnish attitudes to Islam a millennium later! Although individually these stories might seem almost comical, they do suggest a particular attitude amongst a few individuals who see Finland as no different from any other Western country.
At the very least they show a lack of understanding of Finnish history and society, again suggesting a failure of integration. Of course it will be only a few individuals who would justify their feelings against Finland in these obscure historical terms, but a failure of integration leading to marginalisation, unemployment, poverty and lack of educational opportunities will provide much more contemporary grounds for some to wish ill on the country. - FIIA Report, Pages 64-65
Her title for this article, 'Send Condoms' can in itself be seen as insulting Islam, as some Muslims believe that condoms encourage extramarital sex.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said help your brother and sister when they are right or wrong. The companions asked, “How to help them when they are wrong.” He said “to stop them from doing wrong is their help.” So are you doing this by giving them condoms?
If I were you, I will teach why they should not engage in premarital or extra marital sex. They can always get condom some where else. Your job as Muslim to tell what is Allah’s ruling on this so that they can make good decisions for themselves. - Islam Online
Does she really think handing out condoms to Muslims is going to piss Muslims off less?
As far as this imam quoted above is concerned, handing out condoms is wrong, unless there is a medical reason for the woman to need it. Not getting pregnant is not a valid reason. So even something trivial and beneficial can get Finland in trouble.
What kind of aid workers does she propose sending? If she wants to help women then women need to be sent. However, even that can cause problems, because local men might think that not dressing in a burqa might be seen as interfering in their culture. And how do you protect these female aid workers? If you send men, then you open up the rape issue again (her reason), especially considering that aid workers get much closer access to the locals than peacekeepers.
There is also the basic problem in that Finnish society itself is in some ways offensive to Islam. Women are treated as equals to men. Women can travel without the supervision of a male relative and women can legally drink alcohol from the age of 18. Since there are Muslims living in Finland, there is the possibility that they will complain to their 'brothers' abroad about how they are being in Finland, risking Finland to attack just as much as having peacekeepers abroad.
So unless Finland plans to just surrender to the muslims, then this thinking is at the least just plan foolish and at most, dangerous.
Peacekeepers are needed in Afghanistan, simply because there are terrorists in the country who are determined to disrupt all attempts to develop the country's infrastructure whether they are run by foreigners of not. Foreign peacekeepers are needed to stop, kill or capture these terrorists or at the very least, provide a stable environment for the new Government to grow so that it can handle these matters itself.
Finland can ignore many problems around the globe as long as all countries also do not ignore them. That is the case now, but that might not always be the case. Unfortunately, the writer did not fully consider the risks of not participating.
Helsingin Sanomat">COMMENTARY: Send condoms, not rifles, to Afghanistan - Helsingin Sanomat (Finland)