Montag, 27. April 2015

W is for War

Switzerland is known for being neutral. It's so ubiquitous that in a teeny bopper book series written by a very ... less intelligent.... woman, a character says "I'm Switzerland" when a wolf boy and a blood sucking boy are fighting. (I only know this because of a knitting pattern for mittens that that have those words written on them with the swiss flag. *ahem*)
Despite Switzerland's identity of neutrality, it still has a military staffed by career and conscripted soldiers and has been involved in wars as both service men and women and the producers of military weapons.
Through this AtoZ blog challenge, I've written about the Swiss wars of revolution and reunification, I touched on the mercenaries in the Vatican entry. They made their neutrality at the Vienna conference of 1815. In World War I, noone tested Switzerland's neutrality, their massive army or their mountains which may or may not have contained ready to mobilize forces and vehicles. Same goes for World War II, though in both cases, Switzerland did not stay out of the conflicts in non-military ways.
Within this militarily neutral country, Swiss voters continue to vote for the conscription and armament of their able-bodied and -minded male citizens. Most recently, in 2013 they voted to continue conscription and in 2011, they voted against official armories for the many military weapons that must be maintained and used every year of eligible service. Without armories, the men are required to maintain their weapons in their home (most choose their wine cellars, storage areas or those handy underground bunkers from the U post.
Each year, 48,076 males become eligible for service. Now, those young men can choose to do paid community service instead. It was not always thus. In the 80s, not serving if you could was punishable as mutiny by a prison sentence. In the early 2000s, my husband had to go through a long, arduous process of essay-writing and speaking to a board in order to prove that he would better serve without weapons training. (He served at an old folks home and an education board for his service.)
Switzerland has been producing and selling arms since 1854. Until recently, it's been nearly indiscriminately. They don't export the most weapons, but the fact that a supposed neutral county earns so much through the sale of instruments of war is - - questionable.

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