Making sense of the referenda Just as Bern failed to explain the possible long-term impact of a positive vote to curb EU immigration, the Department of Defence also neglected to put across its case in support of the 18 May Gripen fighter vote. Given readers’ response, some for, others against, to a Le News story highlighting a critical Norwegian report on the Gripen, it is evident that this was never a clear-cut issue. There was simply too much obfuscation, even arrogance, within the ministry as to why Switzerland really needed the planes.
The irony is that, traditionally, most Swiss have tended to vote in support of whatever the army recommends. This time, however, they did not buy the argument. Global weapons’ sales, too, often have more to do with political or commercial lobbies than actual military requirements.
Now is the time to engage in a proper debate regarding Switzerland’s position within Europe, both economically and security-wise. With an airforce that does not scramble until after breakfast, would it not be better for Switzerland to develop more shared resources and security with its neighbours? This needs to include threats superseding conventional warfare, notably cyber security and terrorism. As highlighted in Pamela Taylor’s piece on the inability of the Swiss to develop a national press, the same goes for how the Swiss see themselves, whether as a multilingual people sharing the same heritage, or as a country with deepening divides.
Edward Girardet, email@example.com