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Torgny Segerstedt wrote this article a week after the Communist Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939 in what would come to be known as the Winter War. In the article he addresses his fellow Swedes.
The Russian invasion of Finland is one of those events whose consequences are unpredictable. When the floodgates of war are opened, the tide of events sweeps away much that was thought to be earthbound.
No one can ignore the fact that Sweden's position is affected by the Russian advance. What plans the rulers in Moscow have is not known. The realisation of their intentions depends on the interplay of many factors. If they are masters of some of them, there are others over which they have no control. Even the firmest decisions have to be changed in the struggle for political power according to the shifts in the situation. What Messrs. Ribbentrop and Hitler on the one hand, Molotov and Stalin on the other, had agreed upon, is not realized by this agreement.
The extent to which the German-Russian agreement applies to Sweden is something that is still hidden. It will be revealed eventually. What has emerged from the secret deliberations in the Kremlin's recesses into the daylight of history is enough to provoke repercussions in our country. We are compelled to take the necessary measures to protect our vital interests.
It should not be concealed that these measures may be associated with certain risks. Failure to take them is equally dangerous. The risks must therefore be weighed against each other. There is no room here for choosing the third of two evils.
It should also be borne in mind that no prudence in the world can prevent a conflict if Russia or Germany seeks to join us. Pretexts are always available. Both the powers mentioned have shown themselves to be unpretentious as to the degree of credibility which a pretext should possess. It is the preserve of dusty chancelleries to believe that no evil befalls him who curls up and watches, silent as a mouse with frightened eyes, the madness of the mighty.
What is required here is that we coldly consider the requirements of the situation and set ourselves up accordingly. We must not, through our own carelessness, drift towards something we wish to avoid. Another thing is if external forces put us in this position. We must be clear where we are heading. We must take the risks involved in keeping it; as has already been said, we must weigh the risk of taking an action against the risk of not taking it.
It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that nothing is gained by meekness. The impartiality of those who, in the spirit of fear, endeavour to show the same consideration to powers whose ends would mean the ruin of all that is dear and sacred to us in the world, and to those powers who are fighting for the very highest values of life, is evil. There is a limit at which observing the mirroring of diplomatic etiquette is humiliating.
In short, we must see the situation as it is, adjust our actions accordingly, and be fully aware of the risks involved. We must look at the situation without blinkers.
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