Murphy's Law: Swiss Miss

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March 27, 2009: Switzerland is not a major arms exporter (about $600 million worth last year). Although sales were up last year, that is not likely to continue. Many Swiss want arms exports banned, despite the large loss of jobs. Meanwhile, the Swiss government puts restrictions on who Swiss weapons can be sold to, including bans on the shipment of spare parts for weapons already sold. If the government decides that a customer nation has been behaving badly, shipments will be halted (even if already paid for.) Currently, Pakistan is the largest customer for Swiss weapons, but not for long. This is because the Swiss government has halted the shipment of replacement parts for Swiss anti-aircraft guns in Pakistan. The Swiss believe the political situation in Pakistan is too unstable, and that the Swiss weapons could be used to hurt the wrong people.

Many Swiss take their long (since the early 19th century) neutrality very seriously, and even want to disband the Swiss armed forces. So far, this proposal has not attracted the backing of a majority of Swiss voters. But it's moving in that direction.

 


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