Current Concerns 2013 No.39 Abandoning State Sovereignty Means Degenerating Into a Vassal State

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Abandoning State Sovereignty Means Degenerating Into a Vassal State
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  Current Concerns The international journal for independent thought, ethical standards, moral responsibility, and for the promotion and respect of public international law, human rights and humanitarian law 27 December 2013No 39 ISSN 1664-7963 Current Concerns PO BoxCH-8044 ZurichSwitzerlandPhone: +41 44 350 65 50Fax: +41 44 350 65 51E-Mail: CurrentConcerns@zeit-fragen.chWebsite: English Edition of Zeit-Fragen continued on page 2 How Switzerland can defend its independence in a changing environment “Abandoning state sovereignty means degenerating into a vassal state”  Interview with Professor Dr Albert Stahel, Institute for Strategic Studies, Wädenswil “Switzerland must concentrate on its roots and ori-ent itself towards them. We must decide again how we want to live. If we give up this determination, we live as others want us to live. We must bear this in mind. Up to the present day, our political and social system was unique in this world.” Prof Dr Albert Stahel (picture thk)thk. In Sep-tember it seemed as if a hot war in the  Middle East was due since the Syrian army had al-legedly made use of poison gas – while the evidence of who had ac-tually used the  poison gas is still missing – and had crossed President Obama’s “red line” which he had an-nounced in February this year. Threats of war by the western powers were heard every day, especially from France, but also from Turkey, and before anything was proven the United States sent an air-craft carrier to the Middle East. Signs were pointing to a war. Today, just three months later, the situation is somewhat different. The conflict in Syria has com- pletely disappeared from our media, ex-cept for a few reports particularly telling about the plight of refugees. President  Assad agreed to the destruction of his  poison gas stocks and gave in to the de-mands of the West; at present a military intervention on the part of NATO seems to be no longer an option. The situation has, however, not become more peaceful. For years, the sword of Damo-cles has been hovering over the Mid-dle East, the threat hovering whether  Israel would attack Iran and thus trig-gers a wildfire, intended to prevent Iran  from becoming a nuclear power. Al-though still an outlaw this summer, Iran is now taken more seriously as a part-ner in the negotiations with the UN veto  powers, EU and Germany. The situa-tion seems to relax slowly there. An con-sentual solution is more likely. Howev-er, nothing has changed fundamentally.  A few weeks later in the Ukraine a pro-test movement has stepped into the lime-light, resembling down to the last detail the US-controlled “colored revolutions” about 10 years ago, this time obvious-ly backed by European powers – which have learned useful methods for the re-tention of power from the US. This is happening in the face of a crisis in the Pacific between China, Japan and the United States whose outcome is uncertain and which is probably no joking matter. These developments make us sit up and take notice and ask for an explana-tion. Professor Stahel is an acknowledged expert in the field of geo-strategy and de- fense policy. Current Concerns had the opportunity to ask him some questions and to have a joint look at the situation of Switzerland in a changing environment.Current Concerns: Professor Stahel, I would like to talk to you about the chang-ing power relations in the global context.  In different regions of the world we face new developments, either in Eastern Eu-rope, the Middle East, Africa or the Pa-cific. As these developments are certain-ly not all coincidental, I would be very interested in your assessment of the geo- political weather situation and what they mean for our country. Professor Dr Albert Stahel : In the Mid-dle East and particularly in the Persian Gulf a new development has been emerg-ing for a long time: The US wants to withdraw from this area for two reasons: First, due to shale oil and shale gas along with supplies from Canada and Mexico they are almost self sufficient and no longer dependent on oil supplies from the Persian Gulf. Second, they want to ad-dress the new challenge, namely China. We have to include these two factors, if we want to assess the overall internation-al situation. The so-called rapproche-ment between the US and Iran plays a role, recognizing that Iran has become a regional superpower, which has also taken responsibility for this region. The “Officially terrorism is feigned such as by Al-Qaeda in  Mali, but basically it is about something quite different, namely to provide raw materials, about economic consid-erations and how one can influence the states and influ-ence them, to make them stop cooperating with China.”  No 39 27 December 2013 Current Concerns  Page 2 ”How Switzerland can defend …” continued from page 1continued on page 3 agreement, signed in Geneva with Iran, is precisely part of it. What does the rapprochement mean for this region? This rapprochement does not imply, for example, that the area will now imme-diately be peaceful. We have the civil war in Syria, and the United States has, as it seems, procrastinated a solu-tion or termination of the conflict. They seem to leave it to the other countries, while the Russians are playing an im-portant role. This situation, withdraw-ing not only from Syria, means that they no longer want to control the events in Libya which – left to its own device – will sink into complete chaos. In Egypt, they seem to leave the situation as it pre-sents itself at the moment. However, not in an endorsing sense as far as the gen-erals are concerned. With regard to Tur-key, they are increasingly turning away their attention from the Caucasus and Europe as well. What will happen in Europe then? This is something that many people do not realize. If a great power like the US exfil-trates from a region a new situation emerg-es. Turning away from Europe includes, of course, a changed situation in Central and Eastern Europe, where Russia’s influence is spreading more and more, either finan-cially or with raw material supplies. One example is Ukraine, which has turned away from the EU. And here the question arises, how the US will act. Will they con-tinue to be present in Poland or Romania? Of course, the missile defense is a sig-nificant factor which plays an important role. Previously, this was officially justi-fied by the Iranian threat. This argument applies probably no longer. Not least, this is due to Russia’s commitment. Basically, this has of course not been done because of Iran, but to highlight presence in Eu-rope, to be active in Poland, the Czech Re-public and Romania. The future will show whether the US give up or want to push through their interests, which will proba-bly not be so easy, because it will lead to serious conflicts with Russia. What does this retreat mean for the old allies? If the US are now slowly retreating, ques-tions concerning Germany will arise. The German government, the  Merkel  govern-ment as well, has a positive attitude to-wards relations with Russia. It also pre-vented Ukraine under its former President from being admitted to NATO in 2008. This is also true for Georgia, by the way. In this whole game France and the UK are in fact the only reliable actors.  Reliable seen from the US perspective? Yes, the US will no longer be active in Eu-rope, and no longer invest as much. The Europeans are supposed to see for them-selves how to cope. To what extent the Americans want to leave it to the Rus-sians or the Germans, is an open ques-tion. As far as Europe is concerned, we are in a very diffuse situation. We do no longer have the constants that we once had. I do not mean the constants during the Cold War, but we have had such con-stants in the period thereafter. At the mo-ment we have a very unclear situation in which other actors play a role: Russia and Germany. For Europe, this includes, of course, the great issue of the southern belt: Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece. Where do we go from there? You have now outlined the upheaval on the Eurasian continent. In which region will the US relocate their activities? To understand the situation, we need to go beyond Europe, where the Pacific region plays a major role: This concerns Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, etc. They are cur-rently in the strategic focus of the United States. This is due to the fact that Russia is no longer a challenge for Washington; al-though Putin  does everything he can to be one. But Russia is not a military challenge to the United States. Except for its nucle-ar weapons, Russia is a “negligible quanti-ty”. China is of course very important due to its potency in the economic, financial, and other sectors. China’s dynamics are a problem for the US and they would like to have this problem solved from an Ameri-can perspective. In future, the US will not accept any well-matched rival, that is for sure. The US will now solve the problem with China in different ways. One way is the containment policy. You rope in the so-called allies, for example Japan, and establish a military-political barrier. How-ever, they also rope in the economic com-petitors, the East Asian countries, which are increasingly important for produc-tion. These include Thailand, Indonesia, etc. These are not only sub-producers, but also competitors for the Chinese. Then, of course, this includes all of Central Asia. Here Afghanistan with its military bases plays a crucial role. The US want to continue to be stationed in Afghanistan and via the Wakhan Valley threaten China in the northeast. In addi-tion there is still something we have al-ways underestimated, namely riots such as the ones in the Uyghur region. Certainly the United States have their fingers in the game there. It is also no coincidence that the Uyghur exile representation is based in New York. This is how we have to imagine the big debate.  Are there any other regions that cause trouble to the US? Yes, other powers still play a role, often in step with the US. Here we have to men-tion South America. There, the United States would like to edge out the Chi-nese, who play an increasingly important role. In this region, China is a demanding power for raw materials, but also provid-er of goods. Furthermore, there is the sit-uation in Africa. This is where the United States plays on various keyboards. Offi-cially terrorism is feigned such as by Al-Qaeda in Mali, but basically it is about something quite different, namely to pro-vide raw materials, about economic con-siderations and how one can influence the states and influence them, to make them stop cooperating with China.  Are there already some concrete exam- ples? Yes, a classic example is the separation of South Sudan from Sudan. The aim was to disconnect the access to the oil in south-ern Sudan for the Chinese. This is the cur-rent situation briefly summarized. This shows that we are really in very un- predictable global conditions. “But the US is still an actor. Although they have lost much of their power, especially in the Arab world and in Eu-rope, they are putting up with it, because their interests are clearly in the Pacific.” “A state that has no army moves towards ‘failed state’. This state gets in a dependency, it gives up, and isn’t worth anything.”  No 39 27 December 2013 Current Concerns  Page 3 continued on page 4 ”How Switzerland can defend …” continued from page 2 But the problem is that we do not really realize them here in Switzerland. We face big changes with powerful actors such as the US, China, in a sense also Russia or India, etc. It is a complex situation. As it has once been, it will not be for eternity. For example, in the EU there might one day be an EU-light or an EU-North or an EU-Germany; everything can change. In the Middle East, the Arab winter has ar-rived, but certainly no Arab Spring. In the Arab world, the problems are not solved. The stability of Saudi Arabia or Egypt is not as it used to be. In the Middle East, Iran plays an increasingly important role. In a sense, Iran is a stabilizing power today. On the one hand it is very interest-ing to see what will develop from this situ-ation, but also frightening because you do not know what will be the outcome. The great solid guidelines that we had during the Cold War and its aftermath, this uni-polarity is no longer possible today. But the US is still an actor. Although they have lost much of their power, es-pecially in the Arab world and in Eu-rope, they are putting up with it, be-cause their interests are clearly in the Pacific. What does this global upheaval mean for our country’s security, and how can we ensure it? This raises the question with whom we should join forces. Would it not be a viable way for Switzerland to ap- proach China and Russia more? In a nutshell: The Confederation has two options. One possibility is the one that you mentioned, namely to pursue an active se-curity and foreign policy. That includes looking for allies. Searching for powers that can offer something, either militarily like Russia or economically or financially like China. This is the active side. There are efforts to maintain what the Confed-eration has always been since it began and what it has always done. We try to be ac-tive. We have not always succeeded, but it would have been possible. The other sce-nario would be degenerating onto the level of a vassal state. That would be the aban-donment of ourselves, and then only Ger-many will remain. This can be no alternative! Right, but those are the realities. What we have offered in the past 10 years, and I am not talking about the little things, such as the issue with the Zurich airport, which is only a part of it, is a decline and abandon-ment of our own foreign and security pol-icy. We are delivering ourselves to a great power, which will then not only determine our foreign and security policy, but also our interior and social policy. In that case we would be a vassal state. We have to keep that in mind. Germany does no long-er allow other states to conduct their own foreign and security policy, for example in their behavior towards the Czech Republic or Slovakia, and partly towards Hungary. We must not underestimate this danger. Yes, I understand what you mean. A cer-tain naivety prevails with many people, here. But it ultimately depends on us. If we no longer want to be independent, then we will move into the lap of Great Germa-ny. Then they will determine what is to be done. As blatant as the alternative is, you will have to face it. There are two pos-sibilities: either we pursue an independ-ent foreign and security policy, and that means to remain flexible and to find out where the opportunities are, with whom we make arrangements and where we can gain something for our country. This is possible, for example with China, not only with Russia and perhaps also with Iran, where we could be much more active. Es-pecially in the Middle East, we could play a much more active role if we wanted to. If we have become more anxious and fearful and prefer not to do so, it is our decision. Not the others will dictate a priori, but we determine our fate ourselves. When we enter into such a total dependence on Ber-lin, we will have given ourselves up. Then we will no longer exist as an independent state, and the issue of our own protection is then off the table. We might say: “Okay, now you will do it.” This is the ultimate consequence. Mrs Merkel would have a lot more opportunities ... ... but that is no option at all for Switzer-land ... ... Of course not, but you have to think it through. We are at a turning point, avoid-ing to lay the cards on the table is no long-er possible. That would be the complete loss of sov-ereignty. Yes, but that is exactly the point at issue. Abandoning sovereignty means that we oblige ourselves to such a degree and be-come so dependent on others that they de-termine what is done and what not. His-torically well conceivable. But we must be honest because we have lost honesty, the honesty towards ourselves, we must open-ly and honestly say: we want the sover-eignty. But I must confess, with the gov-ernment and the administration we have in Berne, I very much doubt that the will to sovereign action is mustered. We al-ways talk of Brussels. In Brussels there are representatives that want their office hours, who are not relevant. Policy in Eu-rope is made in three places, and if we include Russia and the US, it is made in five places. These are Paris, London, Ber-lin and Washington and Moscow. There, European policy is operated. Brussels is absolutely irrelevant. The EU is an institu-tion that was founded like the UN and is a fiction like the UN. It is a an institution as well and thus a bureaucracy. Europe-an politics does not take place in Brussels. We have now talked about the loss of sov-ereignty, but what does it take so that we can keep our independence. Sovereignty concerns the entire foreign policy, economic policy, fiscal policy, so-cial policy, education policy and of course defence policy. These are the key ele-ments that you have to think through. The best example is our monetary policy. Our Swiss franc has so to speak become the substitute of the Euro, and only because everybody always complained about of the over-valuation of the Swiss franc. This is complete nonsense. The other countries have inflation, we don’t, and the Euro is still losing its value. All these are factors that are very troubling. What about our national defence? Generally considered, we need army forc-es which are able to meet all orders, which are able to defend the country, to provide a service for the benefit of the population and to address other challenges which do not have to do with the classic situation of threat. To achieve this, we must strengthen the army. Yes, they have been weakening the armed forces... ... for 20 years. “Generally considered, we need a credible army which is able to meet all orders, which is able to defend the country, to provide a service for the benefit of the pop-ulation and to address other challenges which do not have to do with the classic situation of threat.”  No 39 27 December 2013 Current Concerns  Page 4 ”How Switzerland can defend …” continued from page 3 It started with the GSoA-initiative. That was even before the fall of the Berlin Wall. At the time, Switzerland had in par-ticular the most powerful potential in Eu-rope with respect to the army. In Europe, we had the largest fleet of tank howitzers  M-109 . Everything was available for an effective defence. The airforce was the weak point of the armed forces. Through-out the 20 th  Century, Switzerland had al-ways trouble with the development of an air force. The vote of 1993 concerning the procurement of the F/A-18  could have led to a course correction. According to the message a second tranche of F/A-18  was planned. If we had bought them we would have an excellent air force today. Unfortu-nately, Federal Councillor Ogi  took over the Military Department in 1995. Adolf Ogi cancelled the planned second tranche together with the air force Chief Carell  because they were afraid of a renewed vote. What did our air force consist of in 1995? At that time, we still had the Mirage re-connaissance planes, although not the newest of the newest, but still very usable. Unfortunately, after the abolition of the  Hunter   fleet Ogi and Carell also eliminat-ed the whole fleet of the Mirage aircrafts. The two gentlemen at that time weakened our air force in a culpable manner. You spoke of additional errors that were made. Yes, then came the “splendid” reform  Army XXI  . Not only the entire invento-ry was reduced and entire units were dis-banded, but also the training of the offic-ers was deteriorating and the duration of the service obligation massively reduced. At the age of 34 soldiers, non-commis-sioned officers, and subaltern officers were to be released. The entire wealth of experiences as well as the close relation-ship between the armed forces and the local authorities, the municipalities and cantons and thus to the population were removed. This reform was supposed to lead to an “combat troops”. The goal was the integration into NATO. Combat forc-es for the United States, this was the driv-ing force behind this reform. There were people at work who had been trained and thus indoctrinated in the United States. They pushed the reform in this direction, to serve at the same time Adolf Ogi. In the time of Federal Councillor Schmid   it showed that the army had an enormous amount of deficits, in particular in train-ing, and more importantly, with regard to the assistance to the civil authorities, as well with respect to the maintenance of material.The great storms of 2005 showed then that we had almost no more rescue troops. The situation was precarious. The army had too few dredger men. There was a saying at that time that Schmid and Ke-ckeis  were looking for dredger men. Im-agine this disastrous situation. We had sunk so low. On the basis of this experi-ence, Schmid wanted to perform a half U-turn with the Step 08/11  to correct the def-icit particularly with respect to the rescue troops.  It is quite sobering that we no longer have much of what makes and distinguishes a good militia armed forces. This was intended. With the aim to form combat forces, the essence of our mili-tia armed forces was destroyed. When we look back on our history before 1848, Switzerland had two types of army: the territorial militia to defend Switzerland and the professional troops of the regi-ments in the foreign service. The foreign services were banned with the founding of the Federal State. The militia with its territorial defence was gradually expand-ed. Schmid wanted to correct the deficits caused by the reform with the Step 08/11  but it failed.Now we have a new Federal Council-lor, Ueli Maurer  , and instead announcing “Stop – the other way round” he creates an armed forces report where it becomes obvious that he follows almost the same trend as his predecessors in the office. The WEA report (development of the army)  runs in the same direction. On and on im-portant weapons and operational materi-al – including the Armored Pesonnel Car-riers 63/89 , the basic model is still in use in other armed forces – is scrapped. Eve-rything is being liquidated, and the stocks will be further reduced. So, the part of the armed forces which is intended for the defence will be reduced to less than 25,000 men. A better police force is creat-ed for the emergency of a war. What is changing with “WEA”? What is now abandoned are also real es-tate and caverns at the military aerodromes which half of the world had admired us for during the Cold War. Important material will be destroyed. This is terrifying, and one wonders who makes such decisions. What does this mean for the defense of our country? A state that has no army moves towards “failed state”. This state gets in a depend-ency, it gives up, and isn’t worth anything. How to defend Switzerland with 25,000 men? It’s simply impossible. Even if there is no military challenge at the moment, we have, with regard to Europe, so many instabilities in this part of the continent that no man can tell us, what it will look like in 5–10 years. In the next few years Russia will presumably not be a real mili-tary challenge for Europe with respect to conventional weapons. But Russia can put other countries under pressure due to its gas supplies. Also the increasingly closer cooperation with Germany must be con-sidered, which was never that close as it is today. Cooperation with Germany was always an old dream of the Czars. A state can’t escape its geographical location. Geopolitics means studying the maps. The two states walk increasingly towards each other, as at the time of Czar Peter  III. , who was a fervent admirer of Prussia during the Seven Year’s War. All Russian Czar’s have been Germans starting with Catherine the Great   up until 1917. This is overlooked today. Regarding Germany, it always has been a powerful land power adjacent to the even more powerful land power Russia.  Bismarck   wanted to main-tain good relations to Russia.  Hitler   was determined to conquer Russia. Britain has been a seapower for centuries. In its histo-ry France wanted to be a seapower as well as a land power and it failed on this claim.In the very fuzzy situation, where Eu-rope is in today, the Federal Council de-cides that Switzerland doesn’t need any capability of defence. Important armament material is simply destroyed. But, what do we need? On what should we spent 5 bil-lion per year? For a few armored person-nel carriers of the type  DURO ? From this point of view, one had actual-ly a say that the greatest threat is in the country itself. We can’t say that here or there we have to expect an “attack”, but the steady reduction of the capability to defend is the greatest threat. Yes, that’s so. Not the citizens are the greatest threat to Switzerland. The real threat to Switzerland is the Swiss Feder-al Council in Berne. The Federal Coun-cil pursues the dismantling of the armed forces and a reckless financial and eco-nomic policy. What do you think about the fiscal policy? A concrete example was the proposed treaty with the United States on the ex-change of data. Why the Minister of Fi-nance is not able to communicate to the United States: “this agreement is superflu-ous; you do know anyway all this thanks to your NSA spying already. You should only tell us what you still don’t know. This would interest us.” This would be the di-plomacy of a sovereign State. The Feder-al Council would pass a message on to the US Ambassador towards his Government, which is clear and unambiguously formu-lated. If necessary, the Federal Council could still send a telegram to Obama . continued on page 5
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