When and why did Switzerland become so fiercely neutral?


Switzerland is a small country and it is surrounded by much large countries that could threaten it. If it sided with one, it would be invaded by another so declaring neutrality it continued to be the best meant to retain national security. Also most if its population speak German as a first language, but a significant population French and a fair number Italian (and Romansh being the fourth official language, but relatively few speakers as a first language)and represent a diversity that is not present in many other countries.

Switzerland first declared neutrality in 1525 after the Battle of Marignano in 1515 and the defeat to French and Venetian forces. An “eternal peace” was signed between France and Switzerland as a direct result of Marignano.

The French invaded Switzerland in 1798 and set up the Helvetic Republic, this was deeply unpopular with the majority of the citizens of Switzerland, so much so that when Austria and Russia invaded, the Swiss refused to fight on behalf of the Helvetic Republic (though I would note here that four Swiss regiments participated in Npoleons invasion of Russia in 1812). After much discussion between Napoleon and Swiss representatives, much autonomy was restored in 1803. After Napoleons initial abdication and exile to Elba, the Swiss re-established their independence and other European nations agreed to Switzerland’s neutrality.

Switzerland joined the League of Nations as a founding member in 1919, they began to take on more duties other member nations were expected to aid with in the ’20s which threatened their neutrality. In the ’30’s however they successfully negotiated an independent state one again.

During WW2 the Swiss military was in a state of mobilisation should Germany invade, but remained neutral once again, they did however receive refugees over the border from both sides and were noted to have shot down a number of Allied and Axis planes that strayed over the border. Controversially the Swiss bankers of the time aided the Germans with financial exchange and/or storage of stolen good acquired during the holocaust and Swiss manufacturers were known to have aided the Axis powers with equipment.

Today, Switzerland officially remains a neutral nation for the same reasons it has always done so, despite involvement with multilateral institutions. Switzerland joined the United Nations in 2002.

Switzerland – always neutral, always helping scumbags hide their ill-gotten earnings.

“Let’s Repeal the Second Amendment”

I don’t feel too strongly in either direction when it comes to the Second Amendment/gun control debate. That’s why this piece in Vanity Fair by Kurt Eichenwald appealed to me so much: it’s logical and reasonable. It’s a little lengthy, so I picked out the bits that I found most interesting.

His textual/historical analysis is interesting in that in follows the belief that many pro-gun rights supporters hold – that it intended to keep American citizens armed against the federal government via the states:

Then, “free State.” Some gunnies seem to translate these words to mean “a free country,” as if it were a generic term. They’re wrong. The word “State”—capital S—appears throughout the Constitution, and it always refers to the individual states that make up the United States. At the time of the writing of the Constitution, each state had its own militia of citizens, and the fear was that a federal army would disarm them. In essence, since the states didn’t trust the federal government not to abuse its power, the Bill of Rights guaranteed that these militias would maintain the weaponry needed to defend themselves against encroachment by a federal army.

He follows this with a look at how the NRA has fought to let those with mental illness buy firearms:

So the N.R.A. started poking holes in the bill. First, the group succeeded in limiting the definition of those with mental illness to only people who had been tossed in a mental institution or found by a court or other official body to be a danger to themselves or others. Even if a psychiatrist reasonably believed a patient could pose a threat, nothing could be done to keep a gun out of that person’s hand. A medical diagnosis isn’t enough.

Once the definition was weakened, the N.R.A. went after the restrictions barring the mentally ill from possessing guns. In the past, anyone banned from having a gun would always be banned, a concept that makes sense given the frequency of relapse among the mentally ill. With the N.I.C.S. amendments, thanks to the N.R.A., that was no longer true.

The key to that was a program jammed into the legislation called “Relief from Disabilities,” which allows even people who have been institutionalized or deemed to be a danger to themselves or others to buy guns again. The way it works is this: sometime after meeting the law’s standards of being too mentally ill to own a gun, a person could petition a court, claiming to be all better. If the court agrees, well, lock and load.

After the N.R.A. wedged that rule into the books, the group then went to its ground game, making sure that the states that had to enforce this law didn’t bring too many mental-health experts or too much proof into the mix.

Take Idaho. After the new law was signed, a group of law-enforcement and mental-health officials—you know, experts—proposed that the courts should be required to have “clear and convincing” evidence before ruling that a person diagnosed with a psychiatric illness was allowed to buy guns again. On top of that, the group wanted what would seem to have been a requirement of the law—a recent mental-health evaluation of the petitioner. But the N.R.A. made sure that proposal died.

Finally, an alternative to the Second Amendment that could satisfy both sides of the debate if they sit down for a rational discussion:

The people retain the right to keep and bear arms, subject to reasonable restrictions deemed necessary by the Congress and the President to secure the lives and well being of others.