Here is the text of my actual winning Fulbright essay/proposal:

Finland, NATO, and the EU: Assessing Security Relationships

At the Cologne Summit in June 1999 European Union (EU) leaders “resolved that the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to the actions of NATO.” Currently, the member states of the EU are in the process of developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) with which to respond to international crises. For the time being, NATO remains the only organization with the ability to deploy strategic forces for collective security and a command system capable of coordinating complex multinational security related operations. For this reason, European leaders have asserted that EU security and defense identity should be built within NATO. As a non-NATO member of the EU, Finland has committed itself to developing CFSP into a legitimate security approach. However, as a country firmly committed to military nonalignment, Finland will be forced to assess its security situation in the near future given the certainty of CFSP development. If a form of common defense is created within the CFSP, making collective defense part of the EU applicable to all members, military nonalignment will become impossible.

A number of possible explanations have been offered to explain Finland’s historic resistance to collective security. Its successes in the Winter War and Continuation War of the 1940s “awoke a deep feeling of self-confidence in the Finns, that they, together with their special climate and geography, could actually manage on their own.” Finland’s proximity to, fear, and extreme distaste for the political climate of the Soviet Union during the Cold War accounted for the need to maintain a neutral military stance, aligning with neither East nor West. However, as Finland’s military resources are forced to shift from Cold War priorities of neutrality to military interoperability within a common European security policy, its reasons for resisting common defense are becoming more elusive. While in Finland, I intend to gain the perspective of Finnish security experts, think tank analysts, defence committee delegates, and academic experts in order to evaluate the extent to which Finland’s limited role in NATO is a product of its obligation to be active in CFSP development and its historical and cultural resistance to collective security. This research will help promote understanding of Finland’s reluctance to abandon its traditional emphasis on military self-sufficiency as well as explain its need to remain interoperable with NATO so as not to weaken its influence in future EU security policy development.

Finland has demonstrated a keen awareness of the current security situation in Europe. Active in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, it supports the strengthening of the PfP and the participation of partners in the planning of crisis management operations. During the Finnish Presidency of the EU, the Member States “agreed upon a Headline Goal for European military crisis management capability. The member states decided that they must be able, by 2003, to deploy within 60 days and sustain for at least one year military forces of up to 50,000-60,000 soldiers capable of undertaking the full range of Petersberg tasks”. However, Finland’s involvement within NATO is limited to crisis management. While this relationship has allowed for significant increases in military interoperability, it is important also to assess Finland’s Defence Forces in terms of a common security policy. Finland’s Defence Minister, Anneli Taina argues, “The process of NATO enlargement and the security arrangements which are developing in Europe may give a new situation for Finland too, so we must be very active in this process and we may, in the future have to have new discussions on this process”. He also asserts the need for research that addresses Finland’s reliance on conscription, a fragile air force, and an inadequate air surveillance system. Despite reluctance on the part of Finland, the trend is clearly moving away from military self-sufficiency, as evidenced most clearly by the potential enlargement of NATO by seven new states in 2004. Finland will need to make the final adaptation to common security in the near future. It will be essential that it be able to identify limits to its interoperability with NATO members. For this reason, it will also be necessary to understand why Finland, as an independent, cohesive, and self-confident state, may continue to resist further integration of its military forces into a common European security body.

To further my knowledge of the security environment of the EU, I will enroll in the Master’s Program in the Social Science Department of the University of Helsinki. Because of my need for a more extensive understanding of the conceptual framework of European Common Foreign and Security Policy, course work will be essential for me to conduct my project. Courses such as European Foreign and Security Policy will be particularly valuable, as will courses such as Finnish Foreign Policy that will help me to understand the political perspective of Finland as it conducts its foreign affairs. A firm understanding of Finnish foreign policy is, perhaps, the most fundamental prerequisite for the accurate development of my project.

Institutions outside of the University of Helsinki will serve as essential resources on the development of CFSP and Finnish attitudes concerning the maturation of EU policy. The Aleksanteri Institute, a national center of research, is affiliated with the University of Helsinki and will provide me with access to a number of foreign policy specialists, including Mikko Palonkorpi, who has agreed to speak with me upon arrival in Finland. The Tampere Peace Research Institute (TPRI) will also provide access to foreign policy experts as well as researchers devoted to security policy. Unto Vesa, Executive Secretary of TPRI, has agreed to talk with me as well as help me set up interviews with his colleagues. The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) will also be a key asset to my research. An independent, private think tank, the FIIA’s mission is to provide information and analysis in support of foreign policy. The FIIA is in the process of addressing issues of compatibility between Finnish and Swedish policies of non-alignment and the CFSP, a topic very similar in nature to that of my proposed research.

To compliment my project, I plan to spend time at the National Defence College Library collecting information on the Finnish Defence Forces and their plans for future European security integration. The Defence College Library is the central library of the Defence Forces. It maintains collections of literature in the fields of military science and national defense for civilian use, including an extensive collection of volumes in English, electronic databases, and various security journals. Although I cannot enroll in the college due to my status as a civilian, Dr. Tomas Ries, special researcher at the National Defence College, has agreed to be my research mentor. He will advise me on establishing a research base in Finland and may be able to provide a working space for me (please see attached correspondence).

A final and necessary portion of my research will include interviews with foreign policy experts in the government. The attitude of the government towards military interoperability of Finland’s Defence Forces with NATO and development of a CFSP is essential in calculating the future of Finnish security in the context of common EU policy. Laakso Jaakko, vice chairman of the Defence Committee of Parliament, has agreed to help me in this respect.

Because the academic year begins on August 1 and ends July 31, I would like to arrive in Helsinki in July to establish a working base and research contacts prior to the beginning of classes. My research will contribute to a more accurate understanding of Finland’s attitude towards an EU CFSP, and in particular toward recognizing the tension that permeates Finnish society, culture, and foreign policy decisions. Torn between the confidence gained from the Winter War, the necessary neutrality of the Cold War, and the obligation to integrate deeply into the European Union, Finland’s response to the development of CFSP has been marked by ambiguities. As debate intensifies throughout the next year, it will be particularly satisfying to study this topic in Finland, a non-NATO EU member that has pledged support in the development of a common security policy that may alter the very way that it has traditionally viewed the overarching principles of its defense policies.

Hopefully reading my winning Fulbright essay/proposal has helped you! There is a ton more great advice in my Fulbright Application Guide!


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