Market, competitor or battlefield? : British foreign economic policy, Finland and the Cold War, 1950-1970
During the Cold War, neutral Finland shared a long border with the Soviet Union. Despite two wars against the Soviet Union (1939-1940 and 1941-1944), and the threat of communist takeover, Finland survived as an independent, democratic country with a market economy. When the Cold War started in the late 1940s, the United States government and the British Foreign Office began to view trade as a potential means of drawing Finland closer to the West and preventing it from falling under Soviet domination. The extensive evidence of this has led many historians to underline the role of political considerations in Western foreign economic policy towards Finland. The present work argues that the Cold War rhetoric of the British Foreign Office paints a misleading picture of British government policy. Despite attempts by the Foreign Office to make political considerations central to the formulation of British foreign economic policy towards Finland, the impact of such considerations was in fact negligible. This was in part because the British were facing economic problems after the Second World War that limited the policy options available to British foreign pohcy makers, but was at least as much the result of the categorical refusal by the Treasury and the Board of Trade to take political factors into account and to use economic methods as tools of foreign policy in the Finnish case. Regardless of whether the economic costs of the proposed policies were large or small, the economic departments of the government treated them as an unwelcome interference in the promotion of the British economic interest and attempts to strengthen the British economy. The present thesis is based on a detailed study of British government documents. It argues that if one wishes to explain the underlining aspirations of British policy one must examine the UK decision-making process in detail, and not rely only on arguments the UK government representatives used to justify UK policy.