At present, our country is considering a more or less close snuggling up to NATO. But one important point is missing from the debate: That if this is done, we will automatically be involved in a possible next big war in Europe. Do we really want this we? Unfortunately, such a conflict between the major powers – initially the USA and, as its appendages, NATO on the one hand, Russia, China on the other, with possible extensions up to a third world war – is no longer impossible in view of the renewed increase in tensions.
As the author learned time and again during his professional activities around the world, Switzerland was positively perceived everywhere, even by ordinary people, as a neutral country with a strong, innovative economy and an impressive army. When he was asked by the taxi driver in Kenya, the Indian business partner in Bombay, a high Chinese officer in Beijing, a minister of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro or a high UN official in New York where he was from, he always heard, analogously, initially in the following conversation, the same opinion that a Chinese bank neighbour had exclaimed aloud to the astonishment of his fellow passengers in the Beijing underground (in English): “Ah, the Swiss, the most defensive and peaceful people in the world!” Of course, the media around the world also wrote this every now and then when they published articles about our country, and of course, neutrality was also part of the bright picture and was seen as exemplary. This positive image also contributed to the fact that we were never seen as a potential partner of any party in a future war, but as a mediator and helper of the people concerned. Many even thought that Switzerland was a model for their own countries.
Only in recent years – as a result of the dismantling of our army – has this perception been reversed. For example, at the last friendly dinner in Beijing, a senior member of one of the largest Chinese corporations asked quite abruptly why Switzerland had abolished its army. The international media have also reported on the dismantling of our army and judged it very negatively. Here are two examples from very many around the world: “Making fun of Switzerland is so easy that it is almost unsporting […]. Every newspaper in the world has published a gloating article about Switzerland.” (Business Standard, India, 21 February 2014, about the once so strong Swiss army, which according to the article had 26,000 bunkers). «Switzerland’s reputation as an impregnable fortress suffered a setback these weeks» (Press of Atlantic City, USA, 23 February 2014).
In a war in Europe, a neutral Switzerland would be strategically extremely disruptive, especially for the Western powers. Their armies would be around us, and we would block their direct transport routes to each other, including airspace. The danger is great that we would therefore be attacked by the Western powers in a major war or that they would at least disregard the neutrality of our airspace and use it intensively. Just like the warring parties in the Second World War.
However, not snuggling up to NATO would only prevent us from becoming involved in a war in Europe if we ourselves maintained a “war-preventing” army according to Art. 58 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, which would make an attack on our country appear futile or too costly for the aggressor – as in the Second World War. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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