I spent a couple of days in Brussels last week on my quest to understand the implications of Brexit. Having now visited London, Berlin, Frankfurt and Warsaw, I can only conclude that the more I learn, the more worried I am.

European negotiations have a tendency to advance in three phases: crisis, chaos and suboptimal solution. Brexit is no exception to this rule. The only problem is that the negotiations will most probably be nasty, brutish and long. And with a suboptimal solution, only law firms will emerge as winners.

In the coming years, the UK and the EU will be involved in three sets of negotiations: an exit agreement, a transition arrangement and a new relationship. We will probably not see the end of this process before 2025.

The timetable of the actual Brexit agreement is relatively straightforward. Theresa May, the UK prime minister, has said she will invoke Article 50 by the end of March 2017. This will kick off a 18 month period of negotiation followed by six months of legal technicalities and ratification. Unless someone stops the clock, Brexit will take place on 1 April 2019, a few weeks before the European Parliament elections.

Brussels continues to say there will be no negotiation without notification, but never underestimate the EU institutions’ level of preparation. The commission is in the final stages of screening the key issues and ready to start the talks whenever London sends an email with an Article 50 heading.

The negotiating hand of the British government is weak. In its crudest form there are only two things that need to be decided: the date and price tag of exit. Once the negotiations begin, Mrs May will have very little to say on either. The EU is not an accounting exercise in which you can calculate the cost of membership by extrapolating how much you pay into and get out of the EU budget. Yet the price tag of the UK’s prior commitments to the budget is estimated around €55 to 60bn. That is how much the UK will have to pay to get out of the EU.

There are three basic options for Brexit: soft, hard and cliff edge. I still insist that a soft exit would be the best way forward, but this seems highly unlikely. If the UK does not accept the free movement of labour, a financial contribution to the budget or the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice on relevant issues, it will be very difficult to remain part of the internal market. You can’t have your Christmas pudding and eat it too.

In a nightmare scenario the UK would be pushed off the cliff edge, without a proper agreement on the terms and conditions of exit. This would lead to political, economic and legal uncertainty of an unprecedented nature. Populism, market turbulence and endless litigation would follow on both sides of the channel.

The best we can therefore wish for is a hard Brexit. In this scenario the EU and the UK settle on a date, price tag, rights, obligations and supervision of the exit agreement. This will mean severance from the internal market, including financial services. At the same time this will pave the way for proper transitional arrangements and a new treaty between the EU and the UK.

The transitional arrangements will be important, but by definition temporary. The length and scope will depend on the direction of the future relationship. They will not be a substitute for EU membership, but simply an arrangement which gives time to negotiate a new deal between the EU and a third country.

Various options for a new relationship — everything from joining the European Economic Area to an arrangement governed by World Trade Organisation rules — have been floated in public discourse. The most likely outcome is something that could be called Canada+, a free-trade agreement with a few special arrangements on security, defence and terrorism.

In financial services the UK will lose out on passporting and its strong position as the centre of the euroclearing system, but nothing will prevent a functional deal based on equivalence. The City of London will be weaker, but not dead.

The EU27 will make sure that the alternative cost of non-membership is substantially higher than being a member. This means that the UK will not be allowed to pick and chose the policies which it wants to plug into. If the UK wants more than a free-trade agreement, it will not be allowed a competitive advantage through lower levels of taxation, environmental standards or social security.

No one can blame Theresa May for wanting a “red, white and blue” Brexit, but the reality is dark grey, if not black. British negotiators have very little to lean on, legally or politically. The EU27 have been surprisingly united since the European Council at the end of June. And when it is in their national interests to remain so, the situation will not change.

As a pro-European anglophile and advocate of liberal democracy, I still pin my hopes on a second referendum on the new deal between the EU and the UK. In terms of overall impact, an exit in 2019 is much more substantial than entry in 1973. Forty years ago national sovereignty was perhaps a comfortable myth, today it is simply post-factual.

But even if I remain an eternal optimist, I think that Brexit is inevitable. When it does happen, it would be in everyone’s interest to manage the process in a civilised and orderly manner. With twenty years of experience in EU negotiations I hope for the best but prepare for the worst. When EU heads meet in Brussels on Thursday, they will be fully aware that Brexit could represent a new definition of suboptimal

Visst älskar vi nordbor demokrati, marknadsekonomi och globalisering. Nå, i alla fall vi som läser Di. Samtidigt skakas vår trygghet av snabba vändningar i internationell politik. Vi tycker ju om stabilitet i form av internationella institutioner och klara regelverk.

Vem hade trott att världen år 2016 skulle skaka någonstans mellan sju och åtta på Richterskalan? Först röstar britterna för att lämna EU, sedan röstar amerikanerna för Donald Trump och till slut vill Kina ta ledningen i världens frihandel.

Det skulle vara lockande att jämföra 2016 med 1918, 1945 och 1989, slutet på två världskrig och det kalla kriget, men det skulle vara en överdrift. Visst bevittnar vi tragiska krig i världen, men inget likt världskrigen. Vi lever i ett tidevarv av relativ fred.

Lika lockande skulle det vara att jämföra finanskrisen 2009 med dess kusiner 1929 och 1873. Den senaste krisen var tuff, men dess konsekvenser går inte att jämföra med de ekonomiska depressionerna i slutet på 1800­talet eller början på 1900­talet.

Det skulle också vara lätt att skylla allt på populism. Att väljarna vädrar sina frustrationer på traditionella institutioner och speciellt politiker. Visst är det en del av demokratin, men så lätt lär det inte vara.

Historikern Niall Ferguson skrev en ypperlig artikel i tidskriften Horizons. Han konstaterade att man inte kan dra likhetstecken mellan dagens populism och fascism. De populistiska rörelserna använder inte uniformer.

Han noterade att historiskt brukar populismen vara en blandning av fem ingredienser: överraskande migrationsflöden, växande inkomstskillnader, en känsla av korruption, en finanskris och en demagog. Ferguson har rätt. Populismen i västvärlden har alla dessa ingredienser.

Populismens framgång kommer att testas i ett antal europeiska val inom de kommande tio månaderna. Det börjar med en folkomröstning i Italien och presidentval i Österrike på söndag. Sedan blir det parlamentsval i Nederländerna i mars, presidentval i Frankrike i maj och riksdagsval i Tyskland i september.

I Europa har Angela Merkel blivit den naturliga ledaren. Hon försvarar europeiska värderingar, leder förhandlingar mellan stormakter och hittar lösningar i svåra situationer. Efter Barack Obama blir hennes position ännu starkare.

För några år sedan var vi oroliga över att våra jobb exporterades till Kina. I dagens läge är det mer frågan om att kinesiska investerare köper företag och know­how i Europa. Vi borde inte klaga – det kallas för global kapitalism.

Om USA börjar driva en protektionistisk linje så kan det väl hända att Europa måste söka efter nya frihandelsavtal i Asien. Den säkerhetspolitiska situationen är också ny. Donald Trumps retorik om USA:s framtida roll inom Nato har varit oroväckande.

Vi lever i ny värld där internationella institutioner, som till exempel FN, EU, WTO och Nato, tappar mark. Samtidigt ser vi maktskiften mellan kontinenter. Asien förstärks, Europa och USA blir relativt svagare.

Välkommen till vår nya värld som verkar vara stabilt osäker.

China is known for its patience. A century is but a page in the book of its history. We Europeans are much more edgy. First we lamented that our manufacturing jobs were stolen by China. Then we worried about the Chinese shopping spree for raw materials in Africa. And now we are trying to come to terms with the fact that China is buying European businesses in all shapes and forms.

Europe should not complain. This is all part of globalisation and capitalism, the two pillars of our economic success in the past 100 years. Nevertheless, now that China might be seen as the champion of free trade and state-driven capitalism, we should pay close attention to what happens next, or what is already happening. And react accordingly.

For decades, China has been folding Africa into its supply chain for raw materials – mainly oil and minerals. But it is currently mining Europe for its precious metals and gems: talent, intellectual property, market shares, technology, brands, established businesses and value chains.

The gear shift is palpable. China is no longer just the world’s low-cost sweatshop. The shopping list in Europe includes high-tech, higher value added industries and services. A great number of investment bankers, lawyers, and due diligence professionals in London, Frankfurt and Paris are suddenly involved in projects with Chinese principals.

China is focused on Europe because the essentially protectionist Committee on Foreign Investment of the United States puts all Sino-US transactions under scrutiny and in effect places a “wall” in the path of Chinese investment. The change of control in the White House will not make investment in the US any easier.

This makes our continent lucrative for acquisitive Chinese funds. This week we can see it at Slush in Helsinki, one of the biggest start-up events in Europe, which has drawn many Chinese investors over the years. Two years ago I spent a day there with China’s vice-premier. Yet Europe appears to be taken by surprise by all this interest. It lacks US-style controls and tools for deliberation.

Europe is waking up to the new reality and its implications, as demonstrated by high-profile cases such as the attempted Chinese takeover of German chipmaker Aixtron. The economy ministry withdrew support after alleged reports that the US intelligence service had warned the government that the technology could be used for military purposes.

Other takeovers pose fewer problems. For instance, Tencent, the Chinese investment holding company, this year bought a majority stake in Supercell. While the Finnish group’s flagship game, Clash of Clans, is a multiplayer test of strategic skill, the acquisition has little strategic importance in the real world.

The big question is how Europe should react.

The first thing to do is to be aware that the aqcuisitions are taking place and that they are systematic. This is not necessarily a bad thing; Europe needs an injection of foreign capital. At the same time it is important to understand that many, but by no means all, of the transactions are state led and targeted at intellectual property and IT. These could have a strategic impact and should thus be dealt with carefully.

Second, Europe should not burn bridges by taking knee-jerk protectionist measures. Few predicted that the Chinese would emerge as advocates of free trade while the US turned inward. The best option would be a new deal between Europe and the US based on security, foreign policy and trade – but if the administration of Donald Trump decides to scrap the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe, we will have to look elsewhere. In terms of size and scale, China is the obvious direction in which to look.

Third, Europe should seek common solutions. The natural reaction is to go native, to come up with national as opposed to common rules. This would be the wrong approach. Europe would become a patchwork flea market instead of a co-ordinated internal market. The left hand would not know what the right hand was doing. And in any case history has shown that protectionism leads nowhere.

Perhaps it is finally time for Europeans to be patient; to understand that the balance of economic power is shifting. It is not about blue-collar work moving continents. It is about white-collar companies changing owners. That is imbedded in the basic nature of global capitalism.

The best way to react is to remain cool, calm and collected – to assess the situation, understand what is going on and try to come up with a joint approach. My hope is that this happens sooner rather than later. My fear is that we are already too late. This is yet further proof that markets are often a step ahead of the regulators.

When I was a kid my parents stressed the importance of being polite. It was often just about simple things: saying “thank you,” opening a door, or putting the dishes away. In many ways it was also about manners: greeting people, behaving at the dinner table, and respecting your elders.

As I grew older politeness evolved. It was more about being respectful and considerate of other people: helping a friend who was feeling blue, or simply listening to someone’s concerns.

When I was studying in the United States, I thought that it was somehow fake to say “nice to meet you” to a complete stranger, or ask someone “how are you doing?” when you really did not expect an honest answer. But I was wrong. At the end of the day, it was a polite way to kick off a conversation.

These days I often find myself thinking about how we treat one other. I am sure many of us followed the US presidential elections. The behaviour of some candidates and their supporters frequently crossed the line of respectful behaviour.

But it is not an isolated phenomenon on the other side of the Atlantic. Much of the discourse in Western parliamentary democracy has become offensive. It often seems to be a race about who can be the meanest.

The same thing goes for today’s media. The conventional wisdom seems to be that bad stories sell. I find it somewhat hypocritical when a newspaper speaks out against bullying on one page, and then proceeds to shred someone to pieces on another page.

Social media has brought another dimension to our possibility to behave, or misbehave as the case may be. When I give talks on social media I often say that our approach to what we type into our keyboards should be the same as it is when we meet a fellow human being face-to-face. The Internet is like an enormous living room. The only difference is that whatever you say on the net will probably leave a trace there for the rest of your life.

As a politician I am often the target of criticism. That is part of democracy and free speech. At the same time it is difficult draw the line – where does criticism become offensive or outright hate speech?

As a public figure I try to do my best to not offend anyone. It is probably impossible, but worth a try. As a parent I want to teach my kids about the importance of respecting others, much like my parents did. This is not mission impossible. On the contrary, good behaviour starts at home.

A few years back I wrote a Blue Wings column based on Stefan Einhorn’s book The Art of Being Kind. Einhorn argues that being a good person can make you happier, richer, more successful and fulfilled.

Those are four additional reasons to ask your fellow passenger how he or she is doing. Have a nice day!

2016 will be remembered as the year when liberal democracy turned its back on liberal internationalism. And unless something is done, it will also be remembered as the year of severance between Europe and the United States, including the demise of the West.

The voters in the UK said no to EU membership. Voters in the US said yes to a presidential candidate who promised to build walls and trade barriers. In a democracy you have to respect the choice of the people, whether you agree with it or not. Both votes symbolise the end of a post Cold War-era dominated by the EU and America. An era which leaned on international institutions and global capitalism and created unforeseen prosperity on both continents.

Much has been said about the reasons for Brexit and Donald Trump and their possible implications for the free world. Less has been said about what we should actually do about the new situation. We need to be both pragmatic and principled.

Lessons from history are often useful. After the financial crisis of 1929 Europe opted for nationalism, whereas the US chose protectionism. Both rejected globalisation. Europe caused the second world war. The United States saved us.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009, nationalism and protectionism seems to be winning the day. Populist movements are on the rise. Brexit and the US elections could pave the way for similar votes in Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, France and Germany within the next 12 months. Less than a century later Europe and the US now have a similar decision to make. Will we opt for policies of disengagement or co-operation? I propose we do the latter. We should forge a New Deal between Europe and the US and it should be based on three pillars.

First, security. Europe needs to listen to what Donald Trump has to say on the cost of Nato. This means that European countries need to beef up their military expenditure whilst at the same time continue to develop the EU’s security and defence capabilities in close co-operation with Nato.

My fear is that President Trump might be tempted to strike a deal with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, on Nato enlargement — namely that it should not take place. This would leave a security political vacuum in northern Europe, especially Finland and Sweden, who are outside the military alliance but members of the EU. Their so called “Nato option” would be made null and void.

Second, foreign policy. Europe and the US must find a way to engage Russia in a principled way. This will not be easy. Russia detached itself from the international mainstream in the conflicts of Georgia (2008), Ukraine (2014) and Syria (2015). It has violated international law on all fronts. This cannot and should not go unpunished.

At the same time we must realise that international security is heavily dependent on Russian involvement. Here my fear is that President Trump will strike a deal on the basis of realpolitik by lifting the sanctions on Russia in exchange from a withdrawal from Ukraine and a joint plan on Syria. This would mean a de facto recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia.

Third, trade. No matter how unpopular a transatlantic trade agreement might be in the eyes of the populist left and right, there is overwhelming evidence that it provides growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. If a deal is not struck, the economic situation will deteriorate, populist movements will grow and someone else will set the standards of world trade.

The current trend in trade is towards bilateral, rather than multilateral trade agreements. Europe and the US should look towards China as a major trading partner. It might be too early to build a trilateral trade deal, but a potential failure of a transatlantic deal will certainly weaken the biggest trading block of the world. Not even the Great Wall prevented China from opening up.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was spot on when she said that “Germany and America are bound together by values — democracy, freedom, respecting the rule of law, people’s dignity regardless of their origin, the colour of their skin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views”.

Electoral outcomes, be they on Brexit or the US President, do not change the basic values which the West should stand for. It remains to be seen how those values are upheld in both Europe and the US. We should not turn our backs against those values, let alone turn against each other.

On the basis of these values we should work to renew the transatlantic bond. President-elect Trump says he likes to do deals. We need a new deal between Europe and the US, based on the respect of our common values. I also think that the only possible dealmaker on the European side is Chancellor Merkel.

Thomas Paine once said that “those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undertake to support it”. This is a timely message to protectionists and nationalists on both sides of the Atlantic. You either export security or import insecurity. The choice is for Europe and the US to make.

The optimist in me says that 2016 should be remembered as the year when we were able to show why transatlantic co-operation and liberal internationalism is not dead. The pessimist in me says that things will go from bad to worse. At least we have a choice which is entirely in our own hands.

Midsommaren 2016. Jag vaknar klockan 3.07. Kollar telefonen. Det kan inte vara sant! Det blir Brexit. Det skulle ju inte vara möjligt.

Den 9 november 2016 klockan 4.55 vaknar jag till en känsla av déja vu. Donald Trump blir USA:s president. Kan de vara sant?

Jo det är det. Världen får lov att leva med både brexit och Donald Trump. Demokratin har talat.

Det finns många av oss i Norden som skulle ha velat se ett annat resultat i både Storbritannien och USA, men vi hade ingen röst.

Själv hör jag till den generationen som har vuxit upp i en värld efter kalla kriget. Först som akademiker, sedan som tjänsteman och numera som politiker. Visst har det varit liberalismens tidevarv.

På 1990-talet levde vi i hopp om att demokrati, marknadsekonomi och globalism skulle bli världsnormen. Det såg bra ut. Våra värderingar – frihet, frihandel, integration, mänskliga rättigher, jämställdhet – hade vänner på alla kontinenterna.

Sedan kom 2000-talet med terrordåden i New York 2001 och finanssen 2008. På 2010-talet vacklade världsekonomin, Arabiska våren blev kort och Europa drabbades av asylkrisen. Populistiska och nationalistiska rörelser blev allt populärare. Autoritära regimer försvann inte.

År 2016 konkretiserar den osäkerheten vi sätt under de senaste 15 åren. Det blir året då den liberala demokratin vänder ryggen mot globaliseringen i både Storbritannien och USA.

Optimisten i mig säger att vi kommer att klara av bexit och Trump. Vi måste förstå att osäkerhet och förändring är en del av demokrati. Vi vet inte hur Storbritannien drar sig loss från EU eller hur Trump förhåller sig till Nato eller frihandel.

Samtidigt kommer situationen i Europa att förändras. År 2017 blir det val i Frankrike, Tyskland och Storbritannien. Brexit och Trump kommer att påverka slutresultaten. Hur? Det vet vi inte ännu.

Lätt blir det inte för oss som tror på integration, frihandel och globalism. Den lönar sig att vakna till en ny realitet. I demokrati är allt möjligt. Detta bör respekteras.

Den 9 november 1989 vaknade jag i USA till att Berlinmuren rasade. Frihetens tidevarv hade börjat. År 2016 har vi vaknat till en ny realitet. Jag hoppas att murarna inte kommer tillbaka.

I have never felt particularly talented. I have always been one of those guys who get excited about something (my wife would say obsessed) and then just grind it out. With a dream, a belief, and hard work I have, on occasion, managed to succeed. It has little to do with talent, more with just sticking to the task at hand.

That’s why I enjoyed reading professor Angela Duckworth’s New York Times bestseller Grit : The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Her basic thesis is simple: the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence that she calls grit. We Finns would probably call it “sisu,” which means a stoic determination.

Duckworth, a pioneering psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, bases her argument on years of in-depth research on military cadets at Westpoint, finalists at spelling contests, athletes, CEOs and writers, and many others. She narrows her findings into two neat and simple equations: talent + effort = skill and skill + effort = achievement.

We all have a little bit of talent at something. In order to turn that talent into skill, we need to give it some effort. Once that skill is combined with effort, we can achieve something.

Now, how often do you hear that someone has extraordinary talent in say, music, mathematics or sport? Sure, there are people who have a better starting point than others in a certain field.

But at the end of the day talent is often used as an excuse for explaining why we are not good at something. When, as a matter of fact, we can be as good, or almost as good, as the guy next to us, just as long as we work hard at it.

When I was writing my PhD at the London School of Economics in the late 1990s, I spent hours researching, writing, and revising. Doing it all over again, from morning to evening. And then all over again a few more times. Not something you can do without passion and persistence.

The good news is that Duckworth believes that you can grow your grit. You can do it by one of two ways. First, by cultivating your interests and habits “from the inside out.” Second, by learning from other people “from the outside in.”

So, there is hope for all of us. Developing a skill takes hours of practice and in order to do that you will need to be enthusiastic about what you are doing. Some persistence and endurance will help, and that skill may very well turn into what others perceive to be a talent.

Saturday October 8, 6.55am. As a former prime minister, I should be used to pressure, to big stages, yet I can feel the butterflies. I am in the city of Kailua-Kona, on Hawaii’s Big Island, surrounded by extremely fit, serious-looking people. It is 35C and 90 per cent humidity — more like a sauna than normal October weather for a Finn — but we are not here for a beach holiday.

Rather, we have come from around the globe to take part in the ultimate triathlon challenge, the Ironman World Championship — a 3.9km swim, a 180km bikeride and a 42km marathon, all in one go. The 2,300 participants are from 50 nationalities and all walks of life: professional athletes, lawyers, executives, accountants, managers, teachers, doctors, flight attendants, carpenters, soldiers, and oh yes, me, the politician.

It is every triathlete’s dream to qualify for Kona but no easy feat — amateurs must earn their place by winning points in one of 40 qualification races around the world. For me, this is a once in a lifetime experience.

The cannon goes off and the long day begins. The swim is first and I have heard horror stories of kicks and punches all over the place. Against my political instincts I have placed myself on the left side, out of the worst crowds in the inside lane. I take the first strokes. The water is crystal clear. I can see the bottom, corals, colourful fish, turtles and all. Beautiful — I feel lucky to be here. The nerves are gone.

I get into a rhythm. It feels surprisingly good. Only one kick in the head and another in the chest. That’s less than what I am used to in politics (and I feel no stabs in the back). After 1 hour and 11 minutes I get out of the water — Yes! Four minutes faster than expected.

A quick transition to the bike: shower, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, sunscreen. The key is not to start too fast and blow up, but it is difficult not to get over excited. Thousands of spectators urge you on in the beginning of the course.

I often get asked why I do sports and how on earth I had time during eight years in government. The answer is simple: an hour of exercise gives you two more hours of energy each day. When you are in a high pressure job there are two ways to wind down and relax. One is to open a bottle of wine every night; the other is to exercise an hour each day. I have always believed in the latter, as much I sometimes enjoy the former.

The bike course in Hawaii is as tough as it gets — out to the village of Hawi for 90km and then back. The sweltering heat of the lavafields is one thing, the winds another. The wind direction often changes, and so it does this time. Into the wind going out, into the wind coming back.

After five hours on the bike I start feeling the physical and mental strain. Fortunately I am well prepared for both. I know this will be the toughest race of my life. I need all the grit I have had in politics. No matter how tough it feels, I just have to keep on plodding away.

After five hours and 39 minutes, I have never been so happy to get off the saddle. At an average of 32km per hour this is definitely the slowest Ironman bike ride I have had. Another quick transition: running shoes, visor and off we go. Usually I love the first steps after the bike. Your legs are wondering what is going on — it feels like having to learn how to run all over again. This time is no different, it is just that my legs will unfortunately have the same sensation for the next 42 kilometres.

The heat hits me like a ton of bricks; my legs feel heavy. I know I am in for a long haul, but I stick to the race plan. The key is not to hit a wall. At every aid station I do the same thing: shove my head into a bucket of ice, put handfuls of ice into my race outfit, grab whatever food and drink is available.

My legs become logs. I am barely able to run, it’s more like a shuffle; one step at a time, both feet never off the ground at the same time; one kilometre to go. “Come on, push”, I tell myself. I know I will make it. Still smiling. I take a right turn for the final 500 metres.

A friend of mine gives me the Finnish flag. I grab it and start running towards the line. The noise from cheering supporters is phenomenal. The professionals have passed a long time ago, but the crowds are still there.

I stop at the finishing line. I hear the announcer shouting something about the former prime minister of Finland. Then I hear the four words I have been waiting for all day: You are an Ironman!

My time is 11 hours and 13 minutes, about 45 minutes more than I expected, yet I have never felt better. I go to the recovery area and see a whole bunch of happy, but tired faces. No more tension, no more nerves, just fatigue and joy.

Later, I get together with some friends for a meal. Then it’s time for ultimate decadence: the huge Cuban cigar I brought with me, and perhaps a glass of vintage red wine.

Professor Angela Duckworth har skrivit en fenomenal bok om beslutsamhet: Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Tesen är enkel: att lyckas beror mindre på talang, mera på hårt arbete och passion. En finländare skulle kalla det för ”sisu”.

Så känns det den 8:e oktober klockan 6.55 då jag trampar vatten vid startlinjen i Hawaii Ironman, världsmästerskapen för triathlon. Framför mig har jag 3,8 kilometer simning, 180 kilometer cykel och 42 kilometer löpning på Kona öns heta lavafält

Jag känner mig nervös. Har hört horrorstoryn om simmstarten. Spark, slag, närkamp. Allt utan våtdräkt. Hoppas jag inte drunknar.

Bang! Starten. Jag tar det lugnt. Bara en spark i huvudet, andra i bröstet. Det här går ju bra. Njuter av det kristallklara vattnet. Koraller, fiskar, skölpaddor. Kommer ut ur vattnet snabbare än förväntat. Småler.

Ett snabbt byte. Cykelskor, hjälm, solkräm. Dags att trampa landsväg ut mot Hawi-vändpunkten. Det blåser. Motvind, som alltid. Tyvärr brukar vinden vända vid vändpunkten och så blir det i dag också. Motvind tillbaka. Nu behövs det ”sisu”.

Jag vet att det kommer att bli tungt. Kyler ner med kallt vatten. Tar in vätska och ”njuter” av hela 18 energigel. Lovar att aldrig mer svälja gel med en blandning av banan och jordgubb.

Det känns skönt att komma av cykeln. Jag vet, visst är det lite perverst att njuta av att få springa ett maraton efter att ha simmat i en dryg timme och cyklat i knappa sex timmar. Men så känns det. Normalt fungerar löpningen efter cykeln. I dag känner jag mig som en noshörning. Det är för hett och fuktigt för en stor nordbo. Dock inga problem. Jag vill bara komma i mål.

Lufsar vidare. Sätter huvudet i varje isbalja på vägen. Dricker cola och redbull. Småler åt publiken. Vinkar åt vänner. Det blir nog bra.

Ytterligare två kilometer. Energin kommer tillbaka. Sista vändningen till legendariska Ali’i Drive – 500 meter kvar. Tar en finsk flagga. Publiken hojtar. Musiken brummar. Från högtalarna hör jag något om Finlands före detta statsminister.

Jag kommer i mål med ett stort leende, eller snarare en grimas, av lycka. Tiden 11 timmar och 13 minuter var 45 minuter långsammare än förväntat, 1 timme 15 minuter lånsammare än Kalmar Ironman, men det gör ingenting. Det bara känns fantastiskt. Jag klarade utmaningen.

Duckworth har rätt. Att köra racet på Hawaii har ingenting med talang att göra. Jag har i all fall ingen talang i uthållighetsgrenar. Det är fråga om passion, glöd och hårt arbete. Samma egen skaper som ofta krävs på jobbet. Pust.

On syyskuu. Istun lontoolaisessa kahvilassa, maailman monikulttuurisimmassa kaupungissa. Yritän ymmärtää mitä Britanniassa tapahtuu.

Miksi saarivaltio haluaa erota EU:sta? Hajoaako Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta? Onko tämä kaikki modernia nationalismia? Eihän tässä näin pitänyt käydä.

Hörppään Starbucksin lattea. Olen lukenut päivän Financial Timesin ja selaillut The Economistin uusinta numeroa. Elän globalistin kuplassa. Vai elänkö?

Mieleeni tulee Stefan Zweigin klassikko, Eilispäivän maailma. Se kertoo kansainvälisyyden, avoimuuden ja suvaitsevaisuuden ilmapiiristä 1800-luvun lopulla ja 1900-luvun alussa, ennen kahta nationalistista maailmansotaa. Toistaako historia itseään?

Saan viestin sähköpostiini. Kysymys kuuluu, haluaisinko arvostella Heikki Aittokosken uusimman kirjan, joka käsittelee nationalismia Euroopassa.

Vastaan heti. Aiheen ymmärtämiselle on tuskin otollisempaa ajankohtaa. Haluan ymmärtää. Yritän ymmärtää. Miksi nationalismi nostaa taas päätään Euroopassa?

Miksi toivo on viimeisen kahdenkymmenenviiden vuoden aikana muuttunut peloksi? 1990-luvun alussa kaikki oli toisin. Berliinin muuri murtui, kylmä sota päättyi, Neuvostoliitto lakkasi olemasta. Nelson Mandela vapautettiin, Vaclav Havel rakensi samettisen vallankumouksen.

Historian piti loppua, rajojen murtua, demokratian ja markkinatalouden voittaa. Keski- ja Itä-Euroopan maat vapautuivat kommunismin kahleista ja halusivat osaksi läntistä arvomaailmaa. Kaikista piti tulla globalisteja.

Toisin kävi. Vuonna 2016 globalisaation puolustajia on harvakseltaan. Nationalismi jyllää. Donald Trump, Ranskan Marine Le Pen, Hollannin Gert Wilders, Britannian Nigel Farage, Venäjän Vladimir Putin. Heidän nationalisminsa voi jotenkin vielä ymmärtää. Se on poliittista opportunismia ja raakaa voimapolitiikkaa.

Mutta miksi Keski- ja Itä-Euroopan johtajat, nuo 1980-luvun vapauden vaalijat, ovat kääntäneet selkänsä integraatiolle ja yhteistyölle? Olemmeko palaamassa nationalistien Eurooppaan, siihen josta Zweig meitä varoitti?

Ryhdyn tuumasta toimeen. Luen Heikki Aittokosken kirjan. Voin päätyä vain yhteen johtopäätökseen: se on yksi parhaista kansainvälistä politiikkaa käsittelevistä kirjoista, jonka olen lukenut vuosikausiin. Harva alan kirja kykenee yhdistämään historian ja nykypäivän, käytännön ja teorian tai yksityiskohdat ja suuret kaaret näin ymmärrettävästi.

Kirja on mielenkiintoinen ja mukaansatempaava. Teos on saumatonta proosaa, jossa lukija tanssitetaan läpi nationalistisen Euroopan, pohjoisesta etelään, idästä länteen, kaakosta lounaaseen ja keskelle. Se on 61 kohtaamisen tarina, jossa sukkuloidaan yhtä luontevasti Torniossa ja Srebrenicassa, Moskovassa ja Edinburghissa, Barcelonassa ja Dresdenissä.

Rakenne toimii. Jokaisen tarinan voi lukea erikseen, mutta yhdessä ne muodostavat kokonaisuuden, joka kertoo karulla tavalla mihin nationalismi pahimmillaan johtaa: sotaan, väkivaltaan ja kuolemaan. Ranskan edesmennyt presidentti, François Mitterrand, oli oikeassa.

Näin hyvää kirjaa ei voi kammiosta kirjoittaa. On matkustettava, on nähtävä, on aistittava, on keskusteltava, on uskallettava, on luettava, on ymmärrettävä. Camp Noun stadionilta vallan kammioihin. Suurista johtajista arkisiin kohtaamisiin. Kirjallisuuden klassikoista twiitteihin. Aittokoski kattaa kaiken. Väsymättä.

Parhaat tarinat ovat niitä, joissa Aittokoski ensin jututtaa jalkapallofania katsomassa tai pakolaista leirillä ja sen jälkeen grillaa valtion- tai hallituksen päämiestä vallan käytävillä. Se luo kuvan kokonaisuudesta, jossa me kaikki voimme vaikuttaa.

Kirjasta huokuu kova jalkatyö ja sydämen sivistys, uteliaan ihmisen intellektuelli hiki. Sen on kirjoittanut henkilö, joka on huolestunut nationalismista, joka välittää Euroopasta ja Suomesta. Henkilö, joka on varttunut suhteellisen rauhan aikana, mutta pelkää, että kaikki voi muuttua silmänräpäyksessä.

Nationalismin voima on otettava vakavasti. Aittokoski on oikeassa todetessaan: ”1800-luvulta lähtien nationalismi on muokannut Eurooppaa ja Suomea enemmän kuin mikään muu aate, niin hyvässä kuin pahassa. Hirvittävien ylilyöntiensä takia n-sana on saanut pahan kaiun, etenkin toisen maailmansodan seurauksena. Mutta kutsuipa aatetta ja siihen liittyviä ilmiöitä sitten kansallisuusaatteeksi, isänmaallisuudeksi tai kansallismielisyydeksi, sen voimaa ei kannata väheksyä.”

Suomessakin on tällä hetkellä johtavissa asemissa puolueita ja politiikkoja, jotka flirttailevat jossain isänmaallisuuden ja nationalismin välimaastossa. On vihapuhetta, rasismia ja väkivaltaa. Ollaan valmiita uhraamaan läntiset arvot oman gallupsuosion alttarilla.

Maahanmuuttovastaisuus, läntisten arvojen hylkääminen ja kansainvälisten instituutioiden vähättely ovat kaikki oireita nousevasta nationalismista. Nationalismin ja isänmaallisuuden raja on kuitenkin veteen piirretty viiva.

”Liberaalin Euroopan ei auta kuin uskoa tarjoamansa vaihtoehdon paremmuuteen – ja sitten kyetä myös tarjoamaan paremmat argumentit. Yksi argumenteista on terve isänmaallisuus. Ahdas nationalismi kun ei ole minkään kansakunnan etu, ei etenkään pienten. Siksi nationalistien ei pidä antaa kaapata isänmaallisuutta. Kotimaataan pitää saada rakastaa. Ei se tarkoita, että sulkeutuisi omaan pikku kansallismieliseen todellisuuteensa.”

Aittokosken kirja antaa uskoa tulevasta. Uskoa siihen, että Euroopan hiljainen enemmistö lähtee vielä puolustushyökkäykseen läntisten arvojen, liberalismin ja suvaitsevaisuuden puolesta. Uskoa siihen, että Zweigin tarina ei toista itseään. Että olemme oppineet historiasta. Nationalismi on Euroopan syöpä, johon puree vain tolkun lääke.

Palaan Suomeen Lontoosta. Menen nauttimaan suomalaisten maahanmuuttajien perustamista Fazerin ja Pauligin tuotteista Stockmannin kahdeksanteen kerrokseen. Tilaan latten. Globalistinen kuplani on puhkaistu juuri oikealla tavalla. Jatkan läntisten arvojen puolustamista isänmaallisessa hengessä. Tämä kirja antaa siihen hyvät eväät.