a bird and a bottle

Swiss to Liechtensteinians: Our Bad.
March 10, 2007, 1:17 pm
Filed under: frivolity, war, wider world

I posted last week about Switzerland’s accidental invasion of Liechtenstein, which prompted some of the funniest newspaper headlines I have seen.

Today the NY Times published an opinion column by a Swiss novelist explaining the whole fiasco. And it is funny. Take, for example, this excerpt:

The Swiss Army has really been in crisis ever since a 1989 plebiscite in which more than a third of voters declared that Switzerland no longer even needed a military. That was the same year we lost our one halfway credible enemy — Communist Eastern Europe, which the army liked to call Redland during exercises.

Nowadays, the army tries to legitimize its existence by offering emergency relief and auxiliary support at sporting events. But compulsory military service remains as inviolable in Switzerland as the monarchy is in Liechtenstein, and so the only way to decrease the number of troops has been to shorten the time of service or declare as many draftees as possible unfit for service.

Perhaps my favorite part, though, is the conclusion, which might be construed as veiled advice to us wayward Americans.

Invading Liechtenstein was admittedly a foolish thing to do, but at least the Swiss Army has shown it knows how to bring a failed military action to a happy conclusion. You just turn around and sneak back home as quickly and quietly as you can before anybody notices.

And the next day you call on the head of the foreign territory and offer a formal apology.

Sigh. If only it were that easy.


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