RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 00:45:50 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence"

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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 19:45:50 -0500
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    Hi Wade -- I've got to pick up Wilson's book. It sounds pretty interesting.

    On Swiss neutrality -- this doctrine was developed a long time ago, when the
    tiny states of Schwiez, Uri and Unterland formed the Helvetian
    Confederation. The provision of safe haven to criminal monies is pretty
    recent and not connected with the neutrality doctrine. Rather, it sprang
    from the willingness of the Swiss to extend to foreigners the same rights of
    financial privacy as they provided themselves, and they made a bundle off of
    it. I don't know much about the history of their banking system so can't say
    much more, except that they pay low or zero interest. Deposits are made
    their for safe haven rather than investment. The policy of secrecy broke
    down in the face in international protest when criminals started stashing
    their money in Switzerland and country's like the US couldn't get at the
    records, as they could in the US with legal authority. Indonesia's Sukarno,
    Idi Amin, Reza Shah Pavlevi are among the discredited national leaders who
    also stashed monies in Switzerland and eventually saw the Swiss authorities
    provide access to account data. And most recently was the extraordinary
    intrusion into account privacy occassioned by the need to try and connect
    deposits made by German and Austrian victims of the Holocaust in Switzerland
    to their living relatives today. It was extraordinary because many of the
    depositors themselves kept their account information secret (deliberately or
    not)from their eventual survivors. Survivors in many cases didn't even know
    if their relatives killed by the Nazis had Swiss accounts, or if they did,
    they didn't have the necessary information to know at which banks, or how
    much, or account numbers and names, etc. After a lot of international
    pressure, the Swiss banks engaged in a real sleuthing effort to link
    unclaimed or accounts inactive since WWII with survivors. Several
    distributions have been made, and the effort is, IIRC, still under way.

    Swiss neutrality has worked pretty well for Switzerland. For a small country
    they have managed to stay out of international trouble pretty well, and also
    to develop a useful role on the international scene, as neutral observers,
    as go-between diplomats, and as a place where opponents can meet quietly and
    safely. The League of Nations was set up in Geneva because of this, and a
    lot of pre-WWII international agencies, like the International Labor
    Organization. After WWII, the UN replaced the League and is also
    headquartered in Geneva.

    This ability to protect its own neutrality was greatly enabled by
    Switzerland's mountainous terrain; its potent citizen army (every male
    between 18 and 45, IIRC, keeps a rifle and ammo at home, and trains for a
    couple of weeks a year under professional army officers; its impressive
    fortifications (warplane shelters built into cliffs, bunkers built into
    cliffs, etc.); and its willingness to go to the brink against international
    bullies. Switzerland let Hitler know quietly that if Germany crossed Swiss
    borders that they would blow the rail and road tunnels that connect Germany
    to Italy.

    John McPhee wrote a nifty little book on the Swiss Army -- I can find the
    reference if you would like. Of course, I like all of his writings.


    You are asking for examples of intelligent national policies in the area of
    international relations, right? I'll try and come up with some more.

    Hmmmmm... how about Egypt/Nasser nationalizing the Suez Canal?

    The republic of Venice deciding (by a single vote) to NOT move their capital
    to Constantinople?

    Well, gosh, I'm doing my best here. <smile>


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf
    > Of Wade T.Smith
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2002 6:26 PM
    > To: Memetics Discussion List
    > Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    > Hi Lawrence DeBivort -
    > >Also, the Peace Corps. And Fulbright and later Pell scholarships.
    > Yes. (Of course, I won't mention where they started.... Perhaps things
    > are not always stupid?) But, largely, these are not policies of the
    > executive of government toward other nations, although the Fulbright
    > could be said to be international in statement.
    > >Switzerland's Neutrality policy.
    > Predicated upon their natural buffer status, and, in fact, responsible
    > for the hiding of billions of dollars of criminal monies. Time will tell
    > if it's stupid or not.
    > (But, as I know, I'm pretty provincial about international stuff, so,
    > one, excuse me any naiveté, and two, correct me gently.... We're all ugly
    > americans regardless of where we're from until we're not.)
    > I know there are efforts to do unstupid things, good, strong efforts, and
    > efforts that have produced good and strong effects and results.
    > But, these are not _national_ level intrusions, and it is at this level
    > that I fail to see non-invasive and colonial or usurpational motives.
    > Stupidities, as you will.
    > >OK, for good government policy, got a quick one: the establishment of the
    > >USAID program (humanitarian and socio/economic development
    > assistance to, at
    > >latest count, some 72 countries)
    > And may it continue.
    > I know I hawk E. O. Wilson with a certain frequency (it's mostly because
    > he's such a darling of a man, and rides a bicycle, because he is a bit of
    > problem in some areas...), but, his newest book, The Future of Life, sets
    > out a stageful of intelligent and compassionate and over-arching policies
    > for the survival of this planet and its lifeforms, and, almost _all_ of
    > them involve NGO's....
    > I think he might think GO's are stupid, too....
    > - Wade
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
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