Politics/Gov't - Models: Militias & Universal Service, the Swiss modelgreenspun.com : LUSENET : HumptyDumptyY2K : One Thread
John McPhee, La Place de la Concorde Suisse
McPhee provides us with a highly readible inside look at one of the worlds oldest and most successful citizen militias -- the Swiss Army. In the process, McPhee helps us to understand that it is this army, with its universal service requirement, which is the real glue holding together the diverse, multi-lingual elements of Swiss society.
Extended personal commentary:
Machiavelli once noted with admiration that the Swiss were "excellently armed and absolutely free". That has largely continued to hold true up to the present day. The former is clearly a primary reason for the latter. Even though Switzerland is a relatively small country, it has a relatively large army -- over 600,00 men. Indeed, many have correctly noted that Switzerland IS an army, for all men between the ages of 18 and 45 must serve. This universal military service includes an annual training period of a couple of weeks. It has also been widely noted that all Swiss army members are required to take their firearms home with them, and they may keep them when they leave the service. Competitive marksmanship is a popular sport practiced by all ages in the Swiss society. As a result of this widespread firearms ownership, violent crime rates are very low.
As McPhee suggests, one of the really interesting things about the Swiss Army is the way that it serves to bring all the different linguistic groups (German, French, Italian, and Romanch), localities, classes, etc., together. The Swiss Army does serve as one of the primary cohesive forces unifying a highly diverse society. The problem of creating unity while protecting diversity in a society is a particularly challenging one, and the Swiss are one of the few societies that have really been successful at it. Indeed, the Swiss were one of the primary models for the U.S. founding fathers. Patrick Henry (of "Give me liberty or give me death" fame), is known to have said of the Swiss: "Let us become like them, and be happy."
Of course, an important reason why this works so well is Swiss neutrality. Universal military service is acceptable to the vast majority of the population because they know that they will only be asked to defend their own homeland. Most people have always been willing to do that. It is being sent overseas to serve as cannon fodder for the folly of some damn fool politician that has proven to be unpopular.
Thus, I would strongly suggest that the following model, largely built upon the Swiss example, be followed in the U.S. (or any successor nation-states) in the aftermath of Y2K:
- Universal national service for all men ages 18-45 in a citizen militia, for domestic homelands defence only. - Any overseas service, if allowed at all, is to be strictly on a volunteer basis. - Any deployment of our volunteer forces outside our national territory is only to be on the basis of a true mutual-defence treaty. - These treaty obligations will be few in number and based solely upon our own vital national defence interests. - We will not initiate any act of military aggression against any other country. We will actively and fiercely defend our own territory and our own people against any act of aggression. This will extend to honoring any true mutual defence treaty obligations in force.
-- Stefan Stackhouse (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 13, 1999
Excellent write-up! On the very day Public Radio is promoting Argentina' attempt to remove all weapons from the hands of its law- abiding citizens, and implicitly suggesting the same for this country, the example of the Swiss is a breath of fresh air.
-- Bill Wegert (email@example.com), August 13, 1999.
Thanks. The Romans did not allow their slaves to own spears and shields.
-- W. Earl Gheesling (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 18, 1999.