Switzerland has not been in a war of any kind since 1815. It has not been in an official foreign war since 1515. This would be astounding, even miraculous, for any nation. But Switzerland borders Germany . And France . And Italy . And Austria . And Liechtenstein . Now the Prince of Liechtenstein has rarely lashed out in Blitzkrieg in a desperate bid to reign uber alles, but ALL of Switzerland ‘s other neighbors have devoted a lot of effort to invading other countries.
In addition to the encircling foreign marauders, Switzerland itself is composed of several different ethnic groups that get along as well as, e.g., Germans and French. But they haven’t ethnically cleansed each other for two centuries, either.
You would think that peacekeeping performance of this kind would make Switzerland an object of study in every political science and civics course worldwide. “WHY Didn’t They Attack Switzerland ?” should be the title of many a textbook. This is not the case. Very few political scientists study Switzerland .
Switzerland is of no interest to politicians, because the features of the Swiss system that keep the peace are the same features that make Swiss politicians unimportant. Do you know the name of the Swiss President now serving out his nonrenewable one-year term? No, you do not (it’s Samuel Schmid, but you won’t remember tomorrow). His name doesn’t matter, and he doesn’t matter to the defense of Switzerland . There is no central location of Swiss defense, no Pentagon or NORAD into which you can crash a 757 or a black-market Kazakh nuclear weapon. The defense of Switzerland is the entire people of Switzerland itself.
The features of the Swiss system for keeping the peace are simple. They mind their own business, and they have very strict gun control. By which they mean that every Swiss male must have a gun, except for those who have to carry a mortar or missile launcher. Females are not subject to universal military training, but if you go to a Swiss rifle range, there are always girls blasting away too. After 9-11, teh Swiss carried on as usual, somewhat different from the US response of panicked victim-disarmament. (You are aware that 99% of US pilots are STILL disarmed?)
As a final defense, the Swiss have rigged the vaults of their banks for demolition. Any dictator attacking Switzerland will find the gold in his numbered bank account buried in rubble hundreds of meters under a mountain. It is known that Hitler had a numbered account.
Switzerland has also provided for defense of the lives of its civilian population against nuclear terrorism. Realizing after World War Two that nuclear weapons in the hands of power-mad idiots posed a public health threat, the Swiss started a nationwide shelter-building program in 1960. By 1991, there was enough shelter space in Switzerland to protect everyone in their home or apartment, and also enough at their workplace and school. A Swiss citizen is generally never more than a few minutes from a fallout shelter with an air filter.
The entire Swiss shelter program was accomplished for somewhere on the order of $35 (1990 dollars) per year per capita. The US spends vastly more every year to achieve a military only capable of intervening in Third World nations that don’t have WMDs. The combined US armed forces are incapable of shooting down a single ballistic missile, or even intercepting low-flying propeller planes. Nor are there bunkers with filtered air supplies for the inhabitants of our glass cities or crackerbox suburbs. The only civil defense in the US is for the President and the bureaucrats under Iron Mountain . Everyone else is nuclear fodder, except for those provident few (such as the Mormons) who build their own shelters to protect their families.
Switzerland does not send troops to intervene in other nations. Switzerland does not spend tens of billions of dollars yearly to fund dictators around the world, nor did Switzerland donate hundreds of billions of dollars to the Warsaw Pact through bank “loans.” Switzerland does not send billions of dollars worth of weaponry every year to the warring tribes in the Middle East . Switzerland has no enemies. Yet the Swiss are armed to the teeth and dug into every hill and under every building.
US policy is the evil-parallel-universe inverse of the Swiss. The US intervenes everywhere, spies on everyone, supports every faction in every dispute. We have as many enemies as there are disputatious people in the world. Yet we spend more effort on disarming our own airline pilots and other law-abiding citizens than on providing shelters for our children against nuclear, chemical, or biological attack. We have an expensive conventional army, and quite a few aging offensive nuclear weapons. But no defense for our children.
A subject I have studied for quite a bit of time now. I’ve always admired Switzerland, as they have always been rated highly on the Peace-Chart.
Why, in all truthfulness, just the other day I was having a debate with my father and we got on the subject of war. The notion that, “we will never be able to end the Muslim hatred of the U.S.,” to which my mother interjected, “Oh, yes we can.” Being a staunch Christian-Conservative sheeple (my own opinion — don’t mistake this for disdain, for my mother), my father and aunt probably agreed.
To the major point, I mentioned that Switzerland is the safest place on God’s green Earth. My father interrupted me with, “BUT,” he so proudly proclaimed, “if they were to be attacked, they’d be helpless.”
The idea that Switzerland would be attacked is so far-fetched, I didn’t dignify his proclamation with a response. I carried about my merry way.
The reason this is so important comes about, in my opinion, in the idea that every male carries a gun. Specifically, the line that read, “The defense of Switzerland is the entire people of Switzerland itself.” I read an article some months back that expressed the idea of the 2nd Amendment, for us Americans. It suggested that the reason why the Anti-American resistance, that our soldiers are so used to experiencing, is so strong, is because that the individuals of Muslim countries truly believe in what they are fighting for; the idea of the defense of their soil is rooted so deeply in, not only their military, but in the individuals themselves.
Now, the article, as well, applied that same philosophy to the American people. I will leave you with this scenario: imagine America with those same principles. That is all. Imagine that; a country so fond of the constitution, our liberties, our rights (coming from NOT the government), and our happiness and property. THAT, is national security.
—Shared by Elle.
Brilliance. Every country should seek to emulate the Swiss in these regards, and should seek to do better as well (thinking about their banning of minarets, etc.)