Sunday, 19 July 2009

We're back. And the Swiss are for it this time.

Er, sorry about that.

It is, by my calculation, six months to the day that we last posted to WATM. At least it was last Tuesday when I should have posted this message. Slothfulness is, I suppose, tricky to shake. So while we slogged our self-important – and in the case of one of us, substantial – guts out to build an audience of 7, we have probably lost them in the intervening time. But as we wrote in post 1, we will plough on nonetheless. Not for us the grandeur of having anyone actually read our musings.

Part of the reason for our long respite was that working on the second of two posts on moral relativism has been taking its toll. Rest assured that that post is on its way (we have been receiving complaints) along with a post on Berlusconi: The Early Years, courtesy of m’colleague.

But today we turn our attention to the Swiss, or to give them their correct name, the Bloody Swiss.

In terms of international relations the Swiss deserve a reputation, not as doughty, independently-minded, peace-loving eccentrics, but rather as self-interested, isolationist, ostrich-like refusniks.

Neutrality, when it comes to important matters of international diplomacy, or more importantly, the defence of human rights around the world, is not a virtue, but is paraded as such by the Swiss. Their refusal even to join the United Nations until 2002 shows how seriously they take international co-operation. Even the North Koreans, not known for their internationalist views, joined in 1991. Switzerland's isolationism makes it all the more surprising that a very large number of international bodies are based in the country. Even the UN has its European HQ in Geneva. Before 2002 literally almost anywhere else on earth would have been somewhere which was at least a member of the UN.

The Swiss constitution outlines some very laudable aims. But there appears to be no real willingness to engage with its European neighbours, or countries around the world, to achieve them. So much so that the map of the EU looks as though it will have a Swiss-shaped hole in its mid-riff for some time to come.

This is selfish and silly. The Swiss have a lot to gain from EU membership, as does the EU. And in terms of international relations it is our view that all Western, liberal, rich nations like Switzerland should contribute to important issues around the globe. Someone should tell the Swiss that there's a situation brewing in Afghanistan if they feel like getting off their ample, chocolate-laden arses.

Not that the Swiss nation need concern themselves with their own national security too much given that they are almost entirely surrounded by NATO allies and benefit from their protection without having to contribute a single solider to the collective security alliance.

Let us get this straight. Switzerland is not a bad country. That is to say there are far worse to which we should, in all honesty, be turning our attention. However, too few people, in our experience treat Switzerland with the small amount of disdain we believe it deserves. Maybe those 7 readers of ours now will. Take that, Switzerland!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rick,

Could it not be argued that there is a place for certain actors who do maintain a neutrality so that they might best facilitate conversation and dialogue between groups? Think of professional mediators during labour disputes. It would surely be problematic for a professional mediator to come out and take a position one way or the other as it could possibly harm their neutrality for which they are valued. Such an argument could be applied to the Swiss or any nation which wishes to claim neutrality. Canada has a strong record of attempting to find neutral, common ground so as to bridge disputes between Europe and the US. You might say that the Swiss aren't really playing the role of neutral middle-power negotiator but that doesn't mean that their neutrality is inherently bad.

-Wes