Manifesto: Army

The army is the main instrument of Swiss militarization and ensures that our understanding of security continues to be strongly influenced by the military. The waste of human, financial and ecological resources for which the army is responsible is immense. A Switzerland without an army, which propagates civilian solutions instead of armed force, is therefore still the long-term goal of the GSoA.

It is the historical core demand and at the same time remains the long-term goal of the GSoA: the abolition of the army. The GSoA was founded over 40 years ago with the development of a corresponding initiative. Today, the GSoA is a politically relevant organization that is active in all areas of security policy. The abolition of the army remains a central pillar of this.

The army is the main instrument of militarization. The army and the Federal Office of Defence and Sport (DDPS) use a variety of political, social and propaganda measures to ensure that the Swiss understanding of security continues to be strongly influenced by the military. The fallacy “the stronger the army, the more secure the country” is still widespread and forms the basis for maintaining outdated military logic, which in turn manifests itself in circumstances such as compulsory military service for men.

The Covid pandemic, for example, has made it painfully clear to us that “security” encompasses much more than the military. An army is also of little use when it comes to energy supply shortages or containing the climate crisis, and yet these are examples of enormous relevance in terms of security policy. The army is therefore no guarantor of security, in fact the opposite is the case: due to the limited national budget, it devours financial resources that are lacking elsewhere. This is because the army is extremely cost-intensive. Not only is there no incentive for it to be efficient, it is even required to keep its consumption of resources high in order to maintain its budget.

With compulsory military service, Switzerland has a conservative practice that forces every male citizen to perform military service. This is not only a massive encroachment on personal freedom, it is also a major factor that drives up the costs of the army. In view of current reports of recruits and soldiers having to wait for hours and undergo various time wasting exercises, maintaining compulsory military service could hardly seem more cynical for a small, neutral country like Switzerland. And yet it is valiantly defended in order to maintain the mass army that prevails in Switzerland.

In addition to wasting resources, compulsory service also causes a certain forced militarization. Many young men are able to abstract and leave military service with a more critical image of the army. However, given the highly hierarchical and strict nature of the army, this is not the case for everyone. You are trained to kill people. You are constantly on the move with a weapon throughout Switzerland. This does not go unnoticed by everyone. Military logic, enemy images defined by the state and a clear idea of “good and evil” are drilled into you for months. The army knows how to use propaganda elements and thus subject its members to a certain nationalization.

How much the army contributes to Switzerland’s security is questionable. Even military scientists assume that the Swiss army would hardly be able to hold its own in an emergency. This is why its existence is justified by deployments at ski races, the WEF or natural disasters. Cases that could easily be dealt with by civilian institutions.

The reflex for military security was suddenly exploited politically with the full-out war in Ukraine starting in 2022 and the army budget was raised to absurd heights. This is despite the fact that Switzerland already has one of the largest armies in Europe in relation to its population. Moreover, blind rearmament is by no means a guarantee of security. A strong military presence can fuel conflicts and tensions rather than resolve or defuse them. Who, if not countries like Switzerland, would be predestined to be a role model for an international peace policy based on disarmament and demilitarization? This is precisely what the GSoA advocates.

For the GSoA, the abolition of the army remains an essential step towards a secure, stable and more peaceful world. Switzerland can and should strengthen its role as a peace mediator. For the GSoA, it is clear that this first and most sustainable demand of our organization must continue to be the goal and must be pursued in the long term.

That is why the GSoA stands for:

  • A Switzerland without an army.
  • The abolition of compulsory military service as long as there is an army.
  • A massive reduction in the army budget in favor of security-relevant areas such as climate protection, health or social justice.
  • A broad understanding of security that does not focus exclusively on militarization.