Friday, September 08, 2006

Things I Love About Switzerland: The Swiss Army

As I watch the latest updates about the "War on Terror" (thanks CNN), I must admit I feel quite safe and extremely happy to be living in neutral Switzerland.

That said, I must tip my hat to the Swiss for their preparedness (should they ever need to defend their country, neutrality, cheese and chocolate, they can and they will). Like a Swiss Army Knife, the country is compact and somewhat unassuming, but fully equipped to handle any situation.

Today, the Swiss military can mobilize 360,000 soldiers in 24 hours (since September 11, 2001, approximately 475,000 army reserve members have been mobilized to support the Global War on Terrorism - the US has approximately 1,421,950 active troops).

Switzerland, with its compulsory military service, still spends more money on the military than on retirement insurance, education, or research. Machine guns and gas masks are common in every household. In addition, every army member has his own supply of weaponry. Interestingly, Switzerland is one of the few nations with a higher per capita rate of gun ownership than the United States, yet Switzerland has virtually no gun crime.

Bunkers are everywhere. Even at the neighborhood playground. There are also things we can't see - like underground bases and secret tunnels and pathways, which if connected, would be 1,437 miles long.

Earlier this week, the Swiss announced The Sonnenberg Tunnel, originally built to offer shelter to 20,000 people in the event of war, is to be turned into a motorway tunnel. The doors of the tunnel are 1.5 meters thick and weigh 350 tones (designed to withstand the explosion of a one-megaton nuclear bomb within one kilometer of the tunnel).

The crafty Swiss also built bombs into mountain pass tunnels that border surrounding countries. So, in case of emergency, they can simply explode the bombs to seal off Switzerland. How convenient.

Living in Switzerland has been a bit like living in a bubble. A clean, safe, beautiful bubble. One doesn't have to worry about terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Young children walk the streets alone.

All one has to worry about is if it is too cold to swim or too warm to ski.

I must say - it just makes me so sad that my daughter will have to grow up in a world where she has to worry about her safety - not to mention all the stupid stuff, like wearing slip on shoes when traveling by air. Oh Chase, my darling, I'm so sorry I can't keep you in this beautiful bubble.
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