Neutrality: the downside

Neutrality can be very lucrative. Look at Switzerland during World War II. There are some situations where one definitely should not be neutral.

By the way, the point of this post is not to pick on a particular country; it’s to reflect on how neutrality is sometimes very very beneficial to the neutral party in ways that we don’t see. Can be money, can be something else.

And the party taking a neutral stance doesn’t have to be a country. Neutrality is a thing all around us. Like, in interpersonal relationships, neutrality gives a person access to double-dip approval and other goodies from both sides, instead of having to take a fall and endure ostracism or worse.

Same as Switzerland offered neutral ground for the Nazis/Axis powers to meet with the Allied powers for discussions aimed at seeking a peaceful resolution, a person taking a neutral stance can serve a valuable role as a mediator or mediation space. We just have to be alert to the potential dangers of adopting a neutral position.

An interpersonal situation I witnessed (actually multiple situations) prompted me to explore this topic by googling “Switzerland World War II”.

• “The sinister face of ‘neutrality’” (from Frontline/ ): Switzerland’s reputation as a neutral safe-haven during World War 11 has been badly tarnished by recent revelations about its wartime transactions with Germany. What began as an examination of the dormant bank accounts of Holocaust victims has gained momentum to include the whole gamut of Swiss financial dealings with the Nazis. In recent months a vast amount of incriminating documentation has been unearthed that reveals the sinister side of Swiss “neutrality”. … Most of the Jews who availed themselves of the opportunity to transfer their assets failed to escape the flames of the Holocaust. While happy to accept Jewish capital, the Swiss were less happy to accept Jewish refugees (often their own depositors).”

• “Swiss supplied arms to Nazi war machine” (from “New studies probing Switzerland’s wartime past have found that the country supplied munitions to the Nazis at the expense of the Allies. Seven studies released on Friday by the Independent Commission of Experts (ICE) show that the lion’s share of Swiss munitions exports went to the Axis powers.”