Eric Margolis on Switzerland: Most Armed; Most FreeSubmitted by Diamond Dog on Sat, 09/28/2013 - 20:53
“Most armed; most free.” So the renowned Italian thinker and strategist Niccolo Machiavelli described the Swiss five centuries ago.
That was a time when the 30 ft pikes and deadly halbards (pole axes) of Switzerland’s fierce mercenary armies were the terror of Europe. The “furia Helvetica” ruled the battlefields until 1515 at Marignano when French guns, firing at point-blank range, tore apart the massed Swiss pike phalanxes.
Today, the memory of Swiss military glory is preserved at the Vatican by its colorful Swiss Guard.
Switzerland has long stayed behind its borders and observed armed neutrality, avoiding both world wars. But on voting days in the Alps, burly farmers come down from the mountains carrying their rifles, axes, and swords – reminders that Swiss independence was won and remains thanks to her people’s force of arms.
Switzerland is the world’s oldest democracy, dating from 1291. As a former resident, I believe this beautiful nation is the world’s most perfect and sensible democracy. Citizens vote directly in all major questions. The 26 Swiss cantons manage their own financial, judicial, and administrative affairs, leaving only defense, railroads, post and foreign affairs to a tiny government in Bern.
Last week, Swiss were asked to vote on a key question that keeps recurring every decade: pacifist and leftists put to referendum the proposal of eliminating national military service and disarming the Swiss Confederation.
Most Swiss are keenly aware that as one of the world’s richest nations they are always surrounded by hungry neighbors. They just watched the US hold up their banks. They voted no to the foolish referendum.