The foundations of the Western world are crumbling. The military alliance between the US and Europe, which has protected the Western liberal world since the end of the world wars, is collapsing and, with that, a wide process of military multipolarization is emerging. In fact, the decay of American unipolarity has been occurring rapidly since the beginning of the 21st century, having recently reached its highest point.
Amid the process of degradation of the ties between Americans and Europeans, some countries of the old continent are beginning to draw their own geopolitical projections, unrelated to American projects. France has been standing out in this process, as can be seen with the recent growth of a critical view of NATO in Paris. Now, however, Switzerland is surprising the world with similar attitudes. Recently, the Swiss government initiated a series of reforms in its defense policies, in order to strengthen its armed forces and modernize its combat arsenals.
The reason for the reforms in Switzerland is simple: in the face of the fall of American power, the growth in cases of terrorism and the rise of political and religious extremism constantly threatening Europe, the country predicts a conflict in the medium term. Without any external protection in this coming conflict, the country begins to prepare itself to guarantee its own interests and its survival.
The main Swiss bet is the purchase of military aircraft. The country has a great difference in military potential in relation to the great powers and the first step in trying to overcome this challenge is precisely to improve the military arsenal. These aircraft have a useful life of around 30 and 40 years, within the timeframe calculated by strategists for the development of more serious conflicts in Europe and other parts of the planet.
There are many strategists who criticize the Swiss plan. According to some experts, the purchase of large-scale combat aircraft will have little practical effect and, given the complexity of contemporary conflicts, this technical modernization would be insufficient to guarantee Swiss interests in any military conflict. This is a coherent view if we consider the contemporary nature of war. In a world characterized by hybrid wars, cyber warfare, information warfare, pharmaceutical racing and with an increasing role for intelligence services, the mere purchase of combat aircraft seems powerless to guarantee the safety of any country.
However, developing a strong air combat arsenal already seems to be an important first step. A step that must be followed by several others if Switzerland really intends to ascend to a position of military respectability. The most impressive thing about this Swiss turn is the abrupt change in the national concept of defense. Switzerland is historically a territory of full military neutrality, not involved in wars for centuries. Many of the recent wars on the European continent have been fought over Swiss neutrality, with countries struggling to protect it and others to occupy it. In short, pacifism and neutrality are fundamental principles of Switzerland as a nation, so a great turn towards a militarization policy and priority in matters of security and defense represents a radical change in the Swiss national ideology itself.
With that, we can see the depth of the current structural changes in the western world. Old alliances and ideologies are broken and give way to an increasing role of political realism, forcing historically peaceful nations to renew their defense and militarization policies, as we can see with the example of Switzerland.
However, such changes cannot occur peacefully. There is a strong opposition to militarization in Switzerland, with the country currently divided between a political elite committed to “global interests”, such as environmental and humanitarian issues, and a group focused on the interests of Switzerland as a National State, committed to security, defense and territorial integrity, to the detriment of supranational interests. The first group is still hegemonic, although the second is growing and achieving great political space.
In fact, the gap between the world military powers and non-militarized countries is so great that overcoming this barrier is extremely difficult. Since the second half of the 20th century, the military powers have been very well established, with some nations possessing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and others not having such arsenals and, consequently, occupying a role of lesser international relevance. Moving from a militarily subordinate country to a world power is a gigantic and almost impossible leap, but one that must be taken by any state that intends to survive the challenges of the contemporary world. Switzerland is simply taking the first steps in this direction, beginning to distrust the relevance of international organizations and to worry about its own security.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.