Friday, March 16, 2007

mock the Swiss at your peril

trivia you may not care about... though I am curious why it was fodder for this column in the PG yesterday. It was actually a news story last month that a squad of unarmed Swiss soldiers inadvertently 'invaded' Liechtenstein. Now I think visiting Switzerland is a lot of fun, but I would be fearful of mocking their military capabilities. Most consider Switzerland the most militarized country in the world with more soldiers per capita than any advanced industrial nation. A universal draft is in place and just about every able bodied male is a reservist their entire life. If you do any hiking in Switzerland, you are likely to come across the caches of weapons, and an occassional armored vehicle, they have stashed away so they can all defend the mountains on a moments notice. Those picturesque bridges you go over... all fully wired with explosives. Back in the cold war days, the Swiss were spending a lot of money to build a bomb shelter for every citizen, and by bomb they really meant nuclear bomb. As John McPhee quotes in his book La Place de la Concorde Suisse: "Switzerland does not have an army," says a Swiss officer "Switzerland is an army".


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