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If Kadafi's right, would we miss the Swiss?

The Libyan leader wants to abolish the country, and he might be on to something.

October 03, 2009|Lionel Beehner | Lionel Beehner is a writer in New York.

Switzerland rarely makes the evening news. That is mostly because nothing much ever happens in this genteel land of bankers and bureaucrats.

So why is everyone suddenly so anti-Swiss?

To recap: Moammar Kadafi petitioned the United Nations to abolish Switzerland. The Libyan leader called the country "a world mafia and not a state." Leading up to this, Libya last year arrested two Swiss businessmen, cut off Swiss commercial flights to Tripoli and pulled out billions from Swiss bank accounts. Relations have not been swell since Swiss police arrested Kadafi's son and daughter-in-law last year for allegedly beating their hotel servants. The younger Kadafi reportedly has suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on the country.

Then there was Roman Polanski's arrest and his possible extradition by Swiss authorities. The filmmaker of French-Polish nationality has been a fugitive since he fled the United States in 1978 after being charged with drugging and raping an underage girl and pleading guilty to unlawful intercourse. France's foreign minister called the arrest "a bit sinister."

"Sinister" is not the first word that pops into most people's minds when they think of Switzerland. After all, this is a country whose primary police duties involve keeping spiders off the pope at the Vatican. It is a member of no military alliances. There's a reason why this landlocked country is the home of neutral-sounding things like the Geneva Convention. Even its most famous export, Roger Federer, is the embodiment of Swiss precision but also unsportsmanlike dullness.

Sure, one can question the Swiss' cozy history with Nazi Germany, but their current transgressions appear almost farcical by comparison.

Or maybe not. After all, the Swiss' orderliness and uber-strict upholding of the law really can be off-putting. They do not start wars, torture prisoners or pollute the planet. They are healthy and good-looking. Most are mild-mannered and even multilingual. Heck, even their army knives are much cooler than ours. What's there not to hate about the Swiss?

But instead of picketing Swiss embassies or boycotting Ricola, maybe we should take up Kadafi on his plan to partition the country. Hand the French-speaking parts to France and the German-speaking parts to Germany or Austria. Its ski resorts will become property of a new U.N. ski agency. Federer would be up for grabs. With no more Swiss Guards, the Vatican could hire Blackwater for its protection. And sanctions against cuckoo clocks will keep us less punctual but more sane. Finally, once we restore relations with Iran, we will no longer need the Swiss as our intermediaries.

Maybe Kadafi is right. Who needs the Swiss?

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