Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I will sound unspecific on purpose.  Military = bad. Peace = possible progress.  That´s my ETopia, but there is logic too.

*The majority, if not all, the wars and devastation right now have been started by a greedy one, or few and their multinationals, now whining for help.

*That requires agreed (mop-up) efforts that affect all major powers, which then escalate their defenses/offenses in supposed "cooperation".  Building the barn after the horse is gone.

*That seems to escalate conflict, in an endless snowball, besides taking funds away from social priorities.

If a country just stayed within its current defense means, it would not offend, nor dare another country, but would negotiate and stop the one-upmanship.

As far as I know, a country like Switzerland doesn´t have much of an army and is not even asked to do the dirty work, because it doesn´t cause any.  And is not planning on making any messes, either.  That´s more than smart, not selfish.  The country that makes a mess should clean it up, too.

What are the Swiss doing right?

(When the new Spanish Minister of Defense was sworn in, I sent him a small post-it for his pc frame that said "Future Ministry of Peace")

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 03:00:49 PM EST
The Swiss have a surprisingly powerful army, and every male citizen is armed and has to do reserves time on a regular basis.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:19:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, the Swiss military could also be termed as one of the most truly defensively oriented. Giant alpine bunkers, small arms at home, not a large air force and navy and special forces.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 02:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It'd be tough for Switzerland to field a navy. There's only so much space on Lac Léman, hardly enough for a battle group I would suppose.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 06:01:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Switzerland is also a land-locked mountainous country that happens to have been of little strategic value to other European countries that were fighting with each other over the past couple of centuries. It's easy to be pacifist if you live in a place where there is no reason for anybody to invade you, or if you are behind someone else's protective curtain.
by asdf on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 10:34:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So - why the Army, except as a tool to build patriotic consensus?

It might only be limited, just as the effectiveness of the Swiss Army would surely be very limited in case of a real war.

Conscription, which seems to be popular on the Continent, is one of the things the UK finds incomprehensible about Europe. But I'm beginning to suspect it plays a useful role in building a coherent national identity.

Of course it could easily become more overtly fascist and militaristic. But when you have a pacifist country with conscription - no one expects the Swiss to invade anyone - there have to be some social effects.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 10:41:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conscription used to be popular in mainland Europe, but it is no longer. Spain abolished compulsory military service within the last 10 years.

It is true that conscription played a major role in providing both national cohesion and social mobility in the 200 years or so that it was used. For its role in fostering social mobility conscription was arguably a progressive force when it was introduced, and it ceased to be when exceptions started to be granted that were overwhelmingly biased to favour the children of the middle and upper class.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 11:34:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Italy, the universal military service system also at least used to be viewed by the left as decreasing the likelihood of right-wing coups/military dictatorships, the reasoning being that an army "of the people" would be "for the people" in extreme circumstances, meaning that the sons of "workers and peasants" would refuse to obey orders to shoot at other "workers and peasants" i.e. strikers, demonstrators etc. in times of civil unrest.

I may be wrong, but I have the impression Italy's switch from a "universal-service for national defence" military model to a smaller, mercenary-enlistment-based "professionalist globocop intervention force" one was largely in response to NATO (US/UK) pressure? Must admit it still makes me slightly queasy... :-(

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 12:38:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain abolished it because of popular discontent. I think it has to do with becoming a first-world country with a large middle-class.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 04:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One good thing about having everybody do a season of military duty is to expose them to how screwed up the military is. How any war manages to get fought is actually a mystery, given the mass dysfunction in every army...
by asdf on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 09:31:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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