Monday, May 27, 2013

What Switzerland Can Teach the U.S.

I just finished reading about Senator John McCain slipping into Syria and meeting with rebel leaders. While many will applaud the Senator for his wisdom and bravery, I'm feeling more like his actions are foolish and ultimately detrimental to the United States. The Middle East and Europe are nations of eternal war. One war's rebels are the next war's dictators. America seems to have forgotten we supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, only to turn around and fight Iraq in Gulf Wars I and II as Saddam used against us the very weapons we gave him to fight Iran. The same thing can happen if we militarily support the rebels of Syria.

What should be the U.S.'s position regarding Civil War in Syria? Neutrality. Someone might object, "But the United States must choose sides to protect our interests in the Middle East!" What interests? Thomas Paine once said, "Not a place on earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them." George Washington echoed Paine's sentiments when he said two decades later, "The great rule of conduct for the United States in regard to foreign nations as we extend our commercial relations is to have with them as little political connection as possible."

I just finished reading the little book Target Switzerland. It was a fascinating read and the author brilliantly explains how this little country could remain neutral during two World Wars, particularly when Switzerland sat in the middle of the land being fought over. Why did not Adolph Hitler invade Switzerland like he did every other European country? Because...

(1). Every man in Switzerland from the age of 20 to 55 is a member of the Swiss militia and was trained, equipped and ready at all times to fight a guerilla war against any invading force.
(2). Marksmanship is the national sport in Switzerland, and every male is required to be a marksman and trained with his gun to shoot well, so that during World War II there were nearly one million trained snipers ready to fight any invading force.
(3). According to Target Switzerland, Adolph Hitler knew that to invade Switzerland would mean certain death to his officers because the Swiss militia were trained in their guerilla warfare tactics to target colonels and above. To defeat a nation of one million snipers would require a commitment of 6 million troops, for the ration of conventional soldiers needed to defeat guerilla militia is 6 to 1.
(4). In short, Switzerland has historically maintained neutrality by focusing on the defense of the homeland instead of the invasion and occupation of foreign lands.

The United States government would do well to imitate the Swiss.

Our Founding Fathers studied Switzerland in the formulation of our national documents. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Our Founding Fathers believed a well regulated militia was NECESSARY for national security. Yet, in these turbulent days we have the leader of one political party (President Obama) seeking to remove guns from the possession of United States citizens, and the leader of another political party (Senator McCain) visiting foreign lands to see how we can supply guns and ammunition to rebels of a foreign civil war. The problem in our nation is the loss of our founding principles. This problem permeates both political parties. Maybe it is time for us to return to the principles with which we began our nation and emulate the Swiss in both their neutrality and their emphasis on a well regulated militia.


Garen Martens said...

Well said Wade! Eva and I love Switzerland and enjoy the majestic beauty of the country. The first time I visited in 1980, I learned of their militia and their stance of neutrality. I also saw some of their unobtrusive security measures to prevent outside attack. I have always been an enthusiastic supporter of their system and applaud them for clinging tightly to the policy.
One of the things you quickly learn when traveling in Switzerland is that it is a peaceful and safe society. I have never felt at risk or unsafe (I can't say that about the US). Even with all the guns in the country, the people know the proper use and do not use them to settle scores or for violence. I agree we could learn much from the Swiss.

Wade Burleson said...


"Even with all the guns in the country, the people know the proper use and do not use them to settle scores or for violence."

Well said!

Ramesh said...

What is one more country for US to be at war with ... Welcome to the new reality!

Firedoglake > Dissenter [Kevin Gosztola] > The United States Is Fighting How Many Wars?

The Guardian > Comment is free [Glenn Greenwald] > Washington gets explicit: its 'war on terror' is permanent

John Wylie said...

Great article Wade. I agree with every word. I am not pro war in the slightest and some times having a strong deterrent is necessary to having peace. I think that it is very telling that Hitler was obviously more fearful of invading Switzerland than he was of invading the Soviet Union.

Kevin said...

Wade, the longer I live the more I believe in a non-intervention policy. Our government should keep us safe from our enemies, not create and arm them.

Ramesh said...

Somewhat Off Topic: Must watch video on surveillance: Kafka, meet Orwell: peek behind the scenes of the modern surveillance state.

Anonymous said...

International affairs are very complex.

I know a number of citizens from a country currently ruled by a minority government that overthrew the previous regime some decades ago. The current crazies that are ruling are radical extremists and a declared enemy of Israel and the US. They maintain their control by bitter persecution of their own citizens, imprisonment, beatings and murder by the thousands. These multiple citizens that I’ve met ALL report that 90% of their population is strongly opposed to the government. (By the way, they have a strong underground church movement taking place as well.)

The opposition has sought to overthrow the current radical regime in the past but they were defeated by their strongly armed rulers with their military power.
During that last attempt to regain control of their own country, the rebels were counting on the US for support when they arose against their dictators. The US had the opportunity to assist them and win over what would probably have been a much saner regime. They would likely have been sympathetic and probably even friends with the US as they had been in times past prior to the current militant regime taking over. Instead of giving any type of assistance our US leaders showed zero backbone or sense of leadership and completely hid in the shadows and missed a chance to impact our relationship in that entire region.

Now the US is on the verge of having to take direct military action against that country due to its defiant stance and outright hatred for the US and any democratic government. If our government had stepped in and given support when we had the chance we no doubt would not be in the position that we are now of having to say, “Back down or else!”

Sometimes intelligent, wise actions to intervene in such matters can increase the security of the USA.

But at the same time, where does one find intelligent, wise leaders these days?

Anonymous said...

Just one more thought, please:

It sounds totally bogus to me to suggest that America's security should rely upon its armed militia citizens. What are the chances of some country invading the US and our private citizens having to take to the trees and becoming guerilla snipers?!? Somebody has been watching way too many “Rambo” movies!

Yet such ridiculous arguments keep fueling the NRA which continues to support machine guns, 20-round magazines, Kevlar vests, armor piercing bullets and grenade launchers being accessible in just about any pawn shop in town.

I’ve lived in a number of countries that have very strict gun controls and it DOES reduce gun violence. (Not that they don’t continue to kill with machetes but you don’t hear of mass killings in schools and theatres.)

For crying out loud! All we need for hunting weapons are a deer rifle and a shotgun which can also be used to protect the old homestead from unwanted intruders or force the guy to marry our pregnant daughter!

The NRA is not “elected” to be the representative of our citizens yet it continues to have so much lobbying power that it disallows those government representatives that YOU AND I ACTUALLY ELECTED from making the rational, sane, gun control legislation that should be made. I think NRA should be outlawed!

But then again, if we do begin to outlaw all lobbyists who is going to be the voice against abortion/homosexual marriage/freedom of religion/prayer, etc.?

Man, politics are way too complicated for me!

Wade Burleson said...


If national defense focused on the home front and not intervention in foreign wars, then maybe wars would not become global conflicts and would remain regional.

Just a thought.

Kristen said...

I think the reason Switzerland was able to stay neutral was much more because it had made itself economically indispensable as a neutral power (through its banks) than because it was really so tough everyone was afraid of it.

I also think both Paine and Washington would have been the last to say their words should act to solidify US policies for the rest of the nation's existence, so that the country could neither grow nor change with the changing needs of changing times.

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,

“defense focused on the home front”

Oh, how I wish that were possible. Unfortunately, today the world is VERY small. We have not been able to limit our involvement militarily on a geographical basis for decades and never again will be able to do that. The World Trade Center Towers are a testimony to that.

Prior to “9/11” our government defied the reality of the presence of an enemy who functions on a global network basis and for years we responded to repeated attacks like the USS Cole and American Embassy in Tanzania by making token responses with the bombing of an abandoned terrorist camp in this Libya or a hawk missile attack on a strategic target in another country. The enemy must have laughed at what must have seemed to have been a grunt made by the big USA giant in response to their hitting us in our soft under-belly. They were not in the least bit intimidated by our empty gestures of response and their strategic system flourished.

As a result of our putting our heads in the sand, the enemy gave us a strong “kick in the rear” zap by instigating extremely sophisticated, well-planned/trained, precisely executed attacks using 747 jet airliners filled with passengers as explosive projectiles hitting right smack dab into the heart of our land. Suddenly the giant was awakened by the reality of this being a new era in warfare unlike any other in history.

In spite of what anyone says regarding the justification of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and our going on a global attack of the enemy’s network, the immediate, aggressive response of the US over the decade subsequent to “9/11” has been extremely effective in undermining the effectiveness of our enemy’s regime and infrastructure.

But there are some similarities of the modern-day warfare which never cease. One is the concept of the “war of attrition” as we saw in Viet Nam. It’s not a strategy of “attrition by slowly killing all of the American troops. It’s a strategy of “attrition of resolve”. The enemy knows that we Americans respond fiercely when finally provoked beyond our limits. But they also know that after a time they can wear us down and our population becomes war-weary and we in effect, retreat and surrender.

Unlike the Israelis who have been in constant warfare state since 1949, we maintain a perception of war being limited to a 4 or 5 year expiration date and then we’re ready for an era of peace. We pressure our politicians to stop it!

Our enemies know that. They love hearing rhetoric of “withdraw the troops”, isolationism, maintaining “defense of our borders by shoring up our border defenses”.

In my opinion, and I totally acknowledge that you may be right and I may be wrong on this, they are just patiently waiting to deliver a kick to our rear again that will probably make previous kicks seem like annoying shoves.

I believe our maintaining a leadership role of involvement as events unfurl in these hot-spot situations (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan) might be a strategic way of diminishing our enemy's plot to strengthen their own agenda.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on your blog and for sharing yours. It’s sure a tough issue.

Wade Burleson said...


When we spend billions on airport security, immigration reform, border patrol, and tighten our air defense systems, you don't have 9/11 in the first place.

Wade Burleson said...

National defense is where we should spend our tax money - we should not be spending it in foreign aid because foreign aid leads to foreign wars (in my opinion).

Anonymous said...


There is so much corruption, waste, deceit and abuses in American politics that I can't bring myself to strongly oppose your position on these matters. I surely tend to mistrust our government and its ability to effectively govern and it causes me to be cynical and want to give up.

At the same time, I don't believe God would have us take the position of being isolationists and removed from involvement in world affairs such as these.

I instead believe the "principle" of using the blessings of extravagant wealth, power and influence that God has given our nation to help those living in impoverished and oppressed countries. I believe that God would more be pleased and bless the United States if we had a genuine heart for doing as much as we could to free those who are oppressed by poverty and victimized by demonic regimes that kill and murder millions who oppose their controlling power. I believe God would be more pleased if we used those resources that He has given us to help feed the starving masses, educate people in lands with no schools and did what we can to help them help themselves.

I know how complicated that is to do without going over the line and becoming paternalistic or dominating. But I cannot fathom God accepting our standing idly by and not having a level of compassion for the suffering in the world that would drive us to do whatever we can to use our resources, power and unbelievable influence to at least try to help them. We know that He desperately loves them even if they live on the other side of the world, are dirty and disgusting and ignorant and babble in languages totally foreign to ours. He still loves them so much that I believe He would be angry for us not using that wealth and power He has bestowed upon us as best we can to help them. I also think He would want us to use the power of our citizenship to help our government do the best job it can to administer our wealth in such a way.

We will never have a perfect governmental system until Jesus returns to establish His own system but I am sure God wants us to struggle to do the best we can.

I know that’s your intent and position too. I don’t mean to be condescending and apologize if I come across that way. We just have different concepts as to how to proceed and what position to support I guess. Sorry that I can’t bring myself to express myself with more brevity!! Comes from my Dad’s genes!

Wade Burleson said...

I'm not advocating "isolationalism."

Non-intervention is not the same thing. We should be friendly to and trade with all nations - in other words have interactions in COMMERCE with them. You can't interact in commerce while at the same time isolate from them. So, I think you are confused with terms.

Non-intervention is what I am advocating.

Johnny D. said...

Wade, this blog scratches me right where I itch.

What we now have is a government that has been captured by massive corporations and huge banks. Those banks and corporations profit from keeping us in perpetual war. Our big boogey-man, the USSR went belly-up and they needed something and someone else to demonize to keep the government money coming in. Now we're chasing an "enemy" that has no borders, no cities, no armies, etc. But, boy, they sure do bring in the green to the Military Industrial Complex. It's the perfect set-up for a perpetual war. Look-up Ike's farewell speech on Youtube - talk about prophetic.

Anonymous said...

Johnny D

Eisenhower's Farewell Speech makes me have hope that one day we may have a leader with that kind of approach and ability to work with Congress. Thanks for directing us to that speech.

Johnny D. said...

You're welcome, 3R! Read Ambrose's biography of Ike. It is excellent.

James Bathouprothes said...

Dear Wade, et al.

I think you'd find some of the postings on my blog ( quite interesting. My research colleague and I have done some travel & study in Der Schweiz, and are quite influenced by some of their theologians. We could all learn much from the Swiss!