Learning from the Swiss. (the Last Word)

By McManus, John F. | The New American, February 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

Learning from the Swiss. (the Last Word)


McManus, John F., The New American


Switzerland has never joined the United Nations, NATO, or the European Union. Her exemplary spirit of "armed neutrality" has kept her out of wars and intrigues, even free from terrorism. In a recent statement, Swiss attorney Matthias Erne pointed to his nation's admirable policy hoping that the Swiss people will not allow their leaders to alter it. Mr. Erne's thoughts appeared in a recent issue of the English-language Current Concerns based in Zurich. What he says of Switzerland in the aftermath of the September 11th attack on America contains a lesson for our nation, and for any nation that wishes to be free of war and the ravages of terrorism. Excerpts follow.

* "Switzerland is a neutral country. It has made permanent armed neutrality, a concept for preventing war, the maxim of its foreign policy. By doing so, Switzerland guarantees four permanent objectives. It will never begin a war, it will never enter a war on the side of a warring party, it will never one-sidedly support warring parties, but it will vigorously defend itself against any attacking party."

* "This level-headed, non-aggressive policy means that there is no cause for terror or war against Switzerland. Since Switzerland is not a member of NATO, the UN and the EU, the country does not feel threatened, since no one has any cause to change the country's foreign policy [by means of] war or terror."

* "Both terror and wars of aggression have the same purpose: change. They aim to bring about change in government, or government policy, or a country's borders. War principally strikes the opposing army, but terror strikes at civilisation and causes terrible suffering and fear. But this fear is not the aim of terror, it is the -- illegal -- means of bringing about changes."

The sound thinking presented by Matthias Erne once prevailed amongst America's leaders, but it is sorely lacking today. A look around the world at the beginning of the 21st century shows American military personnel imposing our will in dozens of countries -- precisely the opposite of what early U.S. leaders urged. In his 1821 inaugural address, President John Quincy Adams stated:

America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own....She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom. …

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