By Zephan Wood for The Liberty Block
On February 28, 2022, the government of Switzerland abandoned its neutrality when it imposed economic sanctions on Russia. It also froze a significant amount of assets held by Russian civilians and companies without due process to “punish” them for the invasion of Ukraine.
Regardless of where one might fall on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, it is inarguable that the end of Swiss neutrality is a loss to Switzerland and to the rest of the world. It has maintained this neutrality during the most difficult of times to do so. Switzerland was neutral in World War 2, a time where millions of innocent civilians were being systematically slaughtered by the Nazi regime. Switzerland could have been the only country to take in Jews as it was not the Nazi’s first intention to exterminate the Jews, many Nazi leaders preferred deportation. Switzerland, like every other nation on Earth, did not step up, presumably due to their commitment to neutrality. The fact that Switzerland remained neutral during the Holocaust but chooses to abandon this neutrality now shows the major deviation from this sacred principle.
Neutrality is important in international affairs because, just like in interpersonal affairs, self defense is most justified if you are only defending yourself. Jefferson stressed in his 1st Inaugural Speech that, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none” is how the united states should conduct foreign policy. This is basically how the Swiss model operated until very recently. Historians note that entangling alliances were one of the most significant causes of World War I since the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb Nationalist resulted in a domino effect in which treaty after treaty between countries were activated, resulting in a potential regional conflict between 15 and 22 million deaths.
In reality, the world would be much better if all countries were like Switzerland, but Switzerland served as a beacon among nations of a model to emulate. Switzerland maintains that its neutrality is still preserved with President Alain Berset stating, “Swiss weapons must not be used in wars.” However, sanctioning other nations because of a conflict is a break from tradition that is hard to put back into the bottle. Additionally, there are continued pushes to provide military aid to Ukraine and 55% of Swiss citizens now believe that their country should become more militarily involved with NATO.
Luckily, there is still hope. The confiscation of private Russian assets was found to be unconstitutional by the Swiss government (much after the fact but better late than never). Additionally, on March 11, 2023, a group of 3,000 protestors in the Swiss capital of Bern came out to support absolute Swiss neutrality, including opposition to Russian sanctions and the export of Swiss war materials.
The most important thing to do now is to continue to support the principles of neutrality, particularly in Switzerland. Support the protestors that are demanding for a return to the Swiss neutrality of the past and all others that are bringing light to the fact that this is sadly occurring. I do not plan on returning to Switzerland until it returns to its former glory. Let’s Make Switzerland Neutral Again!
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.