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No Wars are "Humanitarian"

by swiss women for security and peace Thursday, Sep. 21, 2006 at 3:53 AM

Justice, democracy, freedom and human dignity should define our future, not the concepts of war strategies.


By Swiss women for security and peace

[This declaration published in: Zeit-Fragen, August 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/.]

At the request of the European Union, the UN should carry out a “robust” deployment of multilateral troops. The term “robust” shows that the actual potential danger of this action should be kept from the civilian population. The reinterpretation of language is part of the strategy for implementing political decisions with the least amount of protest of the population. Thus the press has prepared the Swiss population for weeks for the dispatching of the Swiss army to the Middle East. Our soldiers will only be involved in peacekeeping missions. We await the exact definition of the UN mandate. This hairsplitting is a consequence of the multi-issue vote on May 16, 2003. At that time army XXI and foreign military deployments were wangled before the people in the course of 9 simultaneous offshore businesses. Since then the Defense department has obsessively sought deployment possibilities abroad that have a pseudo-humanitarian appearance. Foreign deployments are increasingly accepted in the Swiss population. New bills are already discussed that grant expanded powers for foreign military operations to the Bundesrat (Upper House of Parliament). They should also be responsible for the career military.

The distinction of “peacekeeping” and “peace-enforcing” deployments is purely theoretical. That a future task force in the Middle East would be stationed in an area contaminated by uranium weapons and defenselessly exposed to radiation like the civilian population is not mentioned at all. In addition, the situation in the Middle East threatens to escalate and entangle the countries participating in a multinational force in active war situations. The soldiers of a small country like Switzerland cannot avoid this since Swiss soldiers are part of a total system through the modularized composition of deployments and are under a foreign command.

Switzerland had something else to offer. Its genuine humanitarian mandate is dodged by means of military deployments that are supposedly “peace-enforcing.” Instead of guaranteeing the protection of relief organizations, these units are often victims of attacks. The mixture of assistance and war actions in the person of the soldier leads to misunderstandings, loss of trust and weakening of emergency help, the only hope of the afflicted civilian population… We reflect on the humanitarian mandate of Switzerland and urge our politicians to fulfill this most important function and incessantly pursue peace. Our constitution enjoins this since it earmarks a peace-promoting role for Switzerland in the international realm. Thanks to peace research, we have much knowledge and experience on solving conflicts and facilitating life together of different cultures based on the honest will to peace. This should be supported. Justice, democracy, freedom and human dignity should define our future, not the concepts of war strategies.
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