No Miracles This Time

Letter From Finland

Last year, when I was in Helsinki, I made a great discovery:, probably the best informed people on Soviet affairs are the Finns, whose Russian-watching goes back almost two centuries, long before the Bolshevik coup of 1917.

I was in Finland talking with veteran analysts, official and unofficial, about the overpowering Soviet military presence that has Norway, Denmark, Finland, and especially Sweden deeply worried. In Finland, where they have learned to take a cultivatedly relaxed attitude about the Soviet Union, the focus of interest was Gorbachev's reform program. One Finnish diplomat, with years of residence in the USSR, summed it up best: "All that Gorbachev is doing is trying to reform the system within the system. It simply can't be done."

That sentence said it all: the problems of the Soviet people won't be solved by de-Stalinization or some new gimmick, like re-Trotskyization. The country's socioeconomic problems can only be solved by de-Leninization—in other words, an end to the Communist Party's monopoly of everything. The Finns are so expert about their superpower neighbor because their lessons have been learned the hard way. Finland was a czarist colony for more than a century. Its national hero, Marshal Mannerheim, who fought the Soviets to a standstill in the Winter War (1939-40), was, until Finland achieved its independence in 1917, a czarist general with an irrepressible...

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