In Target Switzerland, Stepehen P. Halbrook lays out the story of Swiss armed neutrality in World War II.
Switzerland, alone among the nations of central Europe, successfully deterred Germany from invading and occupying her territory.
Where did a small nation find the resolve and strength- military and spiritual-to resist against overwhelmingly larger and more powerful foes?
One answer lies in two words which describe Switzerland’s national military doctrine: armed neutrality.
Other European nations were characterized y centralized governments often headed by elites with the power to surrender their sovereignty to Hitler, either with a short even token resistance or no fight at all. By contrast, in Switzerland, sovereignty began with the individual, not the central authorities. And every man kept a rifle for the defense of his home, his family, his canton and finally, Switzerland herself.
Switzerland’s war time mobilization and armament-rooted in the centuries-old policy of active, armed neutrality-effectively deterred invasion by the most powerful and aggressive totalitarian state in modern European history.
America’s Founders intended that America adopt the same approach to government and national security as fellow federal republic Switzerland practiced. In the original Articles of Confederation, Sam Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry, John Dickinson, Richard Henry Lee and the other signatories intended: “Each state retain its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.”
A weak central government of a part time nature was intended, with an appointed president selected for a one-year term to preside over “A Committee of the States” for managing the “general affairs of the United States.” In the exact same fashion as Switzerland, the Founders intended that the states and their citizens would hold the reigns of power, rather than the weak, even part-time central government.
In terms of national defense, the Articles were clear: “No body of forces shall be kept up by any state in time of peace, except such number shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defense of such state.” The Founders had neither the intention nor the ability to become involved in the internal affairs of other countries.
America has much to learn from tiny Switzerland. Switzerland today has the same militia-based national defense system and decentralized cantonal (states) system of government presided over by a one-year president with few enumerated powers as it did back in the days of WWII.
Originally posted June 4, 2015.
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