“Without a Strong Army, There is no Sovereign State”

The following editorial from a Swiss newspaper discusses a referendum on the procurement of a fighter jet for the Swiss military. After it appeared, the measure was defeated at the polls.

JLH, who translated the piece, includes these observations:

I cannot help noticing the parallel to our own recent decision to dismantle our armed forces in the face of the opposite in Russia and China, to say nothing of Iran, and considering the evidence of our own gormless behavior vis-à-vis Ukraine.

It is also interesting that this one Swiss, at least, takes a Reaganite attitude toward his “peaceful” neighbors of the EU and prefers “trust but verify.”

The translated editorial from Die Weltwoche:

The Gripen [Saab fighter plane]

With no credible army, there is no independent Switzerland. Clever Federal Councilor Ueli-Maurer and his fortunately down-to-earth Army chief, André Blattmann are spot on.

by Roger Koppel

Every country has an army — its own or a foreign one. Up to now there is no other idea that allows a sovereign territorial state to defend itself against aggressors. Every state that is and wants to remain independent needs an army. Every army has ground troops and an air force — and if necessary, warships. No regular army in the world does without fighter planes, which must be replaced from time to time. Thus, there is no reasonable ground for objection to the purchase of new machines of the type Gripen E in the referendum on May 18th.

For anyone who has forgotten or suppressed it, or not yet figured it out, the situation in Ukraine shows it clearly. Whoever has no real army is easy prey. He is neither respected nor taken seriously. He becomes the plaything of foreign interests. The function of an army is to frighten off the potential aggressor with the highest possible price of admission. Every country must at some time or another be able to defend its terrain and air space. The one who can secure order — or destroy it — will be sovereign. Without a strong army, there is no sovereign state.

Opponents of the Gripen argue that Switzerland is surrounded exclusively by friends. Such perceptions miss the essential point. They do not recognize the attacks on Swiss prosperity already in progress; the envy which engenders greed and aggression. They overlook the most basic thing: Any government is only as stable as the army it can call to its defense in an emergency. That is true in peacetime as well as in time of war. Do not bring a knife to a gunfight. Switzerland is only as strong and self-confident as its ability to stand up for itself in a military conflict. The military is the prerequisite for the very existence of this state.

The Swiss army has been systematically dismantled since the end of the Cold War. Representatives of the civil establishment have been just as bemused by the illusory likelihood of a prospective perpetual peace as have leftist utopians and proponents of eliminating the army. Switzerland should just surrender itself to the Nirvana of foreign military alliances. On the gravestone of the old Swiss army are the names of prominent civic assistants to the mercy killing: Kaspar Villiger (FDP), Adolf Ogi (SVP), Samuel Schmid (SVP).*

The way Switzerland is treated by other nations is also a product of its readiness to defend itself. On November 20, 1951, the National Security Council of the United States published a highly secret report. Under the file designation NSC 119, the Americans praised Switzerland as the country with the “greatest defensive capability in Europe.” Especially formidable was its determination to defend itself.

Naturally papers from the Cold War era cannot today be evaluated one-for-one. But the respectful tone remains impressive. A Switzerland prepared to defend itself was a fact and not some propaganda myth of “spiritual defense of country,” as maintained by today’s historians and politicians with equal parts of smugness and blindness to history.

To be sure, the significance of a superior army for a small, neutral state should not be decided on the impression it makes on others. It is also a question of dignity and credibility, whether a state that claims to be independent is prepared to bear the costs and effort of protecting its borders, its territory and its people in case of war.

Today, it is not about whether we buy a better or worse airplane. It is about Switzerland standing up for a credible national defense and therefore national independence. In recent decades, the Swiss army has been cut to the bone, and more. The air force still had over 300 machines at the beginning of the 1990s. At the autumn session of the National Council, the prevailing opinion was that Switzerland could not be defended with less than 400,000 troops. Today, advocates for the army are begging on bended knee for 100,000 and — perhaps — an air force of somewhat over 50 planes.

Federal Councilor Ueli Maurer has managed the feat of uniting his military leaders behind the Gripen, even though some insiders wanted a more expensive and allegedly better plane. It is clear from the latest “arena” debate on Swiss television that the defense minister is superior to his Green-Liberal opponents in both argumentation and trustworthiness. Switzerland needs an army. An army needs an air force. The old Tiger fighters — prototype dating from 1959 — must be replaced. In the opinion of the gratifyingly down-to-earth

chief of the army, André Blattmann, the Gripen E is a viable solution at a reasonable cost. Anyone who is for the army, and therefore for Switzerland, cannot ignore this simple logic on May 18th.

*   Is it significant — even ominous — that two of these are members of the SVP — the party of Bloch and Freysinger, which has championed the use of the referendum and of much that has been done in the name of democracy and conservatism in Switzerland?

Final Note: The “peace Party” won the referendum on the grounds mentioned above — “surrounded by friends.”

10 thoughts on ““Without a Strong Army, There is no Sovereign State”

  1. “Without a Strong Army, There is no Sovereign State”
    NOOO. Without common sense, moral, convictions, there is no sovereign state. USA has the strongest army and it is losing its sovereignty and soul to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. They can’t stop immigration of invaders, they cannot deport criminals and illegals. The proof that America is the best country is that the invaders arrive in it by millions. They can’t stop shariah from creeping into every American sinew and cell, they can’t stop CAIR from its jihad.

    • And we have many prominent “conservatives” arguing vehemently that we absolutely must welcome all those invaders with open arms, or else we’re “exclusionists” and our economy will crumble and our country will die. Those particular “conservatives” have probably not spent much time in the southern border states, apart from the nicer parts of the major cities or some expensive tourist destinations.

  2. ” National Council, the prevailing opinion was that Switzerland could not be defended with less than 400,000 troops. . . ”

    If you import invader enemies, if you can’t distinguish between foe and friend, then it does not matter how many planes or soldiers you have. Because you are your own enemy. You can’t destroy your self by planes. Only a discerning mind can defend itself. You must avoid things that cause a storm to gather. If you stupidly help a storm to gather and then try to fight is or disperse it you can’t get victorious when you can’t sort things out. You must have the sixth sense.

  3. The original invasion plans of the Central Powers during WWI called for the German army to pass through parts of Switzerland. This part of the plan was abandoned when the Germans came to the conclusion the Swiss had enough men and firepower to grind the German army to a halt.

    I visited Switzerland (late 70’s). Even though I was a young boy, I still remember the fascination of the citizen soldier army on maneuvers around the ski resorts. It was interesting to find a machine gun placement next to a ski lift. The best for me was watching the fighter planes fly BELOW you as the screamed past the mountain peaks. Even as a middle age man, I still remember that trip.

    Curious if the drift to the pacifist left began before or after women were given the vote.

    • I lived in Switzerland from ’79 to ’80. I remember pictures in a newspaper article about the citizen-soldiers on maneuvers standing next to a mortar emplacement hidden in what looked like a tree stump. I believe there were others disguised as boulders. Of course these emplacements were not scattered willy-nilly around the country, but were strategically located and pre-sighted to cover mountain passes and other choke points that any invading army would have to traverse. I’m no military expert, but I suspect that a mere 100 Swiss soldiers could have repelled 100x as many invading German soldiers. It would have been a bloodbath.

  4. For Murad: Enjoyed your response. The only difficulty for me is that possibly you confused one of two terms: can’t and won’t. I believe that our situation is dour because of the word “won’t”. That extends to the head of the snake on down. However, should the going really get tough, the invaders will not believe what happens next, even while it is happening to them. I pray to the God of the universe that we never get to that point. But unless our power brokers wake up and decide to grow a backbone, it will be left to the people.

  5. It’s always left to the individual to make a society that fosters freedom, or tyranny. Governments derive their authority to govern from the people, whether either side knows it or not. If you want a government that respects individual rights (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, property rights) then the citizenry, individually, must make themselves rational and be up to the task of handling the responsibility of freedom. Start with thinking logically.

    Politics is the last thing that changes when a society changes. First the individuals in a society change; then politics follows suit. Politicians are men of action, they are not intellectual leaders.

    • Say what? Tell that to those the Bolsheviks murdered when they grabbed power. They didn’t vote them in back in 1917. Even now, Europeans are trying to get rid of the monster EU, something that was forced on many of them.

      Governments don’t derive their authority to govern from the people. Individuals in government can and do make life intolerable for those who won’t go along with their own diminishment.

  6. More so than needing an army, a sovereign states needs -real- democracy, i.e referendums on major issues rather than the joke of a circus that is presidential elections, and that’s what happened here, the Swiss people voted against having an army(like they voted on a cap on EU migration in February), and it should be respected. Of course if this fellow wants to try to convince people otherwise, he should be well within his rights to(and be given an equal voice in the media to the other side), I’m just saying the decision shouldn’t be undermined.

    I agree with Murad. A European army hasn’t actually helped its own people in a while, maybe even as far back as wars against the Ottoman Empire in the 1600s. Everything else was wars for Monarchs, colonies/riches and stealing. WW1 was absolutely for no one’s benefit, and as for WW2 I stand by we should’ve been fighting the Bolsheviks and the USSR rather than Nazi Germany. Even if you disagree, you should know the Allies were not fighting for the people Nazi Germany was persecuting, they were fighting to preserve the balance of power and to make sure Germany doesn’t get way stronger than them.

    Ukraine did have a military btw, they had a very large army, they simply didn’t have modern equipment, they obviously wouldn’t bother trying to fight the much larger Russia though. Plus, being a poor country, I’d say it’s treason to spend a lot of money on a military instead of using it to improve the economy. What would this Ukranian army be fighting for anyway? A piece of land full of people who voted that they wanted to be part of Russia? I’d say Ukraine would be the imperialist, not Russia.

  7. Nothing new !!!

    “if you want peace, prepare for war”
    “Epitoma Rei Militaris,” by Vegetius (Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus).

    The Latin is: “Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.”

    Also Known As: Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    Many in Switzerland agreed on having new firefighter planes but didn’t agree on spending on/ buying the Swedish Gripen ….so voted no …

    Many would prefer the Dassault Rafale or other more performent jet fighter … That it that’s all …

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