10 April 2011

Cold War Fence-Sitters Now Having Splintered Butts

They're poking their heads up out of their prairie-dog holes, and the Cold War "neutrals" are starting to pick sides in today's conflicts.

Swedish fighter jets are roaring into action over Libya under NATO command. Ireland is offering itself as a transit hub for U.S. military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Even famously independent Switzerland has peacekeepers in Kosovo.
For Europe's once-staunchly neutral countries, much has changed in the two decades since the Cold War ended. With no East-West conflict as a reference point, the concept of neutrality has been redefined to the point that some would say it's lost its meaning.
"There's total confusion. People have forgotten the concept of neutrality, which means don't take sides in a military conflict," said Swiss peace researcher Daniele Ganser.
Switzerland is considered the only truly neutral nation left in Europe. But it, too, has compromised its goal of staying out of other nations' troubles.
Switzerland finally joined the United Nations in 2002 and since 1999 has about 200 peacekeepers in Kosovo. It recently allowed allied forces to drive through and fly over Switzerland on their way to missions in Libya. The government said Swiss neutrality was intact because the Libya operation was authorized by the U.N. Security Council.
"To my mind that is not compatible with complete neutrality," Ganser said.

By: Brant

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