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Monday, April 10, 2006

JK Paasikivi on Western leaders and Korean War

taking care of the health of a soldier
Kim Il Sung taking care of the health of a soldier (click to open a larger picture in a new window)
JK Paasikivi
JK Paasikivi
Thanks to the final decision by Stalin in April 1950 (55 years ago almost by day) in his meetings with Kim Il-sung to approve and support Kim's attack on South Korea, Soviet Union finally decided to begin the Finno-Soviet trade negotiations, requested by Finns since the previous year but given cold shoulder by the Soviets. (So Finland has Kim Il-sung's insistence to start the war in part to thank for in regard the Soviet trade which greatly contributed to the improvement of wealth and living standards since the 1950s.)
But these things were unknown in 1950, and had they been, it wouldn't have given much solace. The outbreak of the war was a shock, and a communist attack which at first seemed successful was worrisome except for the local communists (who were not few); the US involvement was reassuring also for social democrats (as accounted by Mauno Koivisto, a later president, in his memoirs).

But I was only going to make a note of a passage in Tuomo Polvinen's biography of J.K. Paasikivi, a bank director and a long-time politician (president 1946-56 etc.) concerning the start of the Korean War, in which the bourgeois president seems to regard the original instigators of the war beyond rebuke and uses his energy to castigate Western leaders. Polvinen quotes the diary of ambassador Georg Gripenberg:
He (Paasikivi) is a extremely well-read and skillful in politics and history, but his temper is fierce, and now he was talking to me of the amateurish policies of certain statesmen in such a loud voice that it seemed as if he had wanted to make me responsible of the setbacks in South Korea. – Just think, he shouted, what kind of people they've had leading the global politics: Baldwin, Chamberlain, Roosevelt, Attlee, Bevin – ignorant, naïve, easy to fool. Do they know history? No. Do they know geography? No. Do they know foreign languages? No. They've had only one capable man, Winston Churchill, but they got rid of him as soon as the biggest danger was gone. Then they gave the impression that South Korean means a lot to them, but forgot to give weapons to those unlucky blockheads. If the fate of small peoples like us was led by such amateurs we'd have been finished already a long time ago. (Translation AL)
(Some language amandments made to the post on April 12, now that visitors are coming via Marmot's Hole and Coming Anarchy. I humbly submit my insignificant note for your perusal.)

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