One of the attractive features of capitalism is that those in political power will actually do more for their people when they do less. The idea of a centrally planned economy where everything from price to distribution is determined by the government may have noble goals for committing to such a social arrangement but ultimately it will do much more harm to its cause and to its people than if it left those choices be determined by free individuals.
However, doing nothing when it comes to international relations can be very costly indeed. Sometimes what is needed for the protection of the people and the market within which they operate is, for example, a pre-emptive attack or alliance with one country against another who is deemed as a threat to security.
But, and an incredibly significant but, is that those very same people who are appointed to act on your behalf and protect you can use your tax and your country’s military resources to do the exact opposite. So where in the past neutrality might not have been an option, ever since the balance of powers of superpowers and international relations becoming less about ‘hard’ war and more about ‘soft’ war, it is now an extremely attractive prospect. In fact those who are most interventionist in their foreign policy seem to keep digging a larger hole for themselves.
One very good example of this is western intervention in the Middle East. They support- monetarily or militarily- dictators or terrorists group and later have to further intervene to fix the even larger problem erupted from their intervention. It reflects the same problems we have with domestic intervention: you intervene and you have to intervene more to fix the new arising problems in endless chain of interventions with ever increasing costs.
Switzerland who has a neutral foreign policy does not have to really deal with Islamic terrorism. They never had a 9/11 nor a 7/7. The Islamic radical preachers might mention Switzerland in a general speech about an envisioned world dominated by Shari’a but it does not get the specific hatred and recognition that the US or UK do for, in their eyes, ‘invading our lands and killing our people’. Recruiting people to kill themselves- literally speaking- is a hard campaign but made much easier when you can emotionally move someone’s soul with ‘your brothers and sisters are dying and you’re doing nothing about it!’.
This is all notwithstanding that the people behind much of these terrorists groups are not, for example, Iran but our best friends such as Saudi and Qatar. The US and UK have never had a problem with dictators and terrorists so long as they promote what they perceive as their interests. And it is this idea of thinking that they can make things better by intervening that has led to such poor foreign policy.
And what else is good about neutralism? You wouldn’t guess this one but it’s bad for the capitalists! Military corporations, oil companies and lobby groups cannot use the country’s resources and taxpayers’ money for their own ends.
So that was a lengthy preface but without further ado, here is a list of why neutralism is the best foreign policy:
- Security: Neutralism leads to less enemies and less possibility of war. It doesn’t guarantee security but it sure is a better strategy for attaining it than intervening, invading, killing, imposing sanctions etc.
- Inexpensive: No need to overspend on the military. No need to have ambassadors to negotiate as the Iranians and the west have done recently. No need to have a bureaucracy to determine the ‘right’ foreign policy which almost always turns out to be the wrong one for which you’ll need an even bigger bureaucracy. Of course, all of this means lower taxes.
- Moral: The central principle of libertarianism is that you are free to act as you wish so long as you harm no one else. Switzerland has much less blood on its hand than the US or UK. Surely they would justify their actions but most people know, and even some politicians have conceded to this, that interventionists policies have not worked. Given this is the case the blood of hundreds and thousands of innocent people including women and children is something all of us should be concerned about when choosing our foreign policy.
Border crossing image © Kecko