by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
With anti-austerity protests across Europe resulting in civil unrest on the streets of Athens and Madrid, the European country famed for its neutrality is taking unusual precautions.
In September 2012 Switzerland launched the military exercise "Stabilo Due" to respond to the current instability in Europe and to test the speed at which its army can be dispatched. The country is not a member of the European Union nor is it among the seventeen countries that share the Euro.
Swiss newspaper “Der Sonntag” reported recently that the exercise centred around a risk map created in 2010, where army staff detailed the threat of internal unrest between warring factions as well as the possibility of refugees from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal.
Switzerland's armed forces are not a professional nor a standard conscripts force. It is, in fact, a citizen militia and every Swiss male between eighteen and fifty-five years of age is a citizen soldier; literally a Minuteman, ready to defend the country at a moment's notice.
The Swiss defense ministry said that it does not rule out having to deploy troops in the coming years and a spokesperson for the ministry continued: "It's not excluded that the consequences of the financial crisis in Switzerland can lead to protests and violence. The army must be ready when the police in such cases requests for subsidiary help."
Some 2,000 troops were part of the drill exercise in eight different towns across the country. Infantry soldiers were used as well as the Air Force and special forces personnel in an assignment that took years to organize.
As a neutral country Switzerland is probably one of the best defended countries of Europe and has one of the highest number of legal gun ownership and -possession in Europe also.
In spite of this high gun ownership and -possession, or maybe because of it, it has one of the lowest crime rates of all the European countries, nullifying the claims by so many countries that have strict gun laws that unless guns are out of the hands of civilians there will be mayhem and crime.
Some Swiss that I know actually believe that the very fact that every man in Switzerland has almost instant access to a gun and is legally permitted to defend himself, his family and home accounts for the low crime rates.
Seeing the state of preparedness that the country is putting itself into with regards to the Euro Zone and possible fallout should the currency collapse should, maybe, tell us all something.
The truth is that the Euro has always been on very shaky ground although no one in the governments of most of the EU members states and especially those that use the Euro have been willing to understand and admit that.
Any default of Greece with regards to the bailout that it has been given from the European Central Bank could topple the dominoes that make up the rest of that zone and the fallout will – it is not a might – affect not just the countries of the Euro Zone and also not just the states of the EU. Its repercussions will be felt on the entire continent of Europe and also much further afield.
Thus, maybe, the Swiss are right to ready themselves and I guess we best follow their example.