Switzerland takes on USA

Posted on 17/01/2011 by


This news just broke today, regarding the Swiss government politely blowing gaskets over the US State Department’s spy network in their country. This is from the Bellingham Herald, and since they put it so well, here’s a few quotes:

Angry Swiss lawmakers called Monday for the ouster of U.S. diplomats suspected of illegally spying on people around their diplomatic missions, in a standoff over the use of counterterrorism measures.

The Swiss government said it has demanded a stop to any surveillance and is investigating the scale of what it calls an unauthorized spying program by the U.S. mission to the United Nations in Geneva and the U.S. embassy in Bern.

The probe follows outrage in Iceland, Norway and Sweden over reports that U.S. diplomats were monitoring some of their countries’ citizens – including allegedly taking pictures of street demonstrations and of people deemed security risks, sparking a wave of anti-American sentiment….

“If the suspicion turns out to be true, then the Federal Council has to send a signal,” Green Party lawmaker Josef Lang told the Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger. “It should expel the U.S. agents from the country and summon the ambassador.”

The U.S. embassy in Bern and the U.S. mission in Geneva had applied twice to the Swiss government in 2006 and 2007 for permission to conduct this type of surveillance, as required by Swiss law, said Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Philippe Piatti said, but they were turned down….

A spokesman for the U.S. mission, David Kennedy, said he could not comment on security issues.

Among the barrage of criticism from Swiss lawmakers, the head of the parliamentary foreign policy committee, Christa Markwalder of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, called on the government to launch criminal proceedings over the surveillance.

Obviously this is a very big deal in Switzerland, especially considering the hard words of the Green Party lawmaker. Greens are usually fairly soft-glove people, in my experience, and when they start talking about cracking the whip, it’s a sign that the situation is quite bad.

Given what is being said, and the tones of the quoted lawmakers, I posit that Switzerland is going to be the trendsetter for the next phase of the Cablegate epoch. Let me explain:

The Swiss are regarded as the most truly neutral and balanced people in the world. Their judgement is trusted across the world; they are friends to even Iran and North Korea, in keeping with their “friends of all, allies of none” ethic.

Additionally, the Swiss are amongst the few peoples in the world which truly understand the notion of sovereignty. They are very much believers in ‘this is our country, we take care of security’.

The US has clearly violated Swiss sovereignty, and made a mockery of Swiss neutrality. (as evidenced by a cable of which I am writing a forthcoming analysis.) The Swiss will not take kindly to this at all, and will likely send a clear message to the US and the world.

If they should, say, cut off diplomatic relations with the US, that will be an alarm bell across the world. The Swiss do not cut off relationships on a whim, and especially not with the world’s ‘largest economy and only superpower’. By severing diplomacy with the US, the Swiss will send the clear message that the US is bad news.

To put it simply: as Switzerland goes, so goes the world. Watch closely.

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