Friday, September 18, 2009

Swiss Shards

What would legendary Swiss patriot Wilhelm Tell think about this?

Colonel Moammar Gadhafi (also spelled Qadafi, Kadafi, Khaddafi, Gaddafi, but never Cavafy), who has ruled Libya as a dictator for the past four decades (but never managed to get promoted to general - what's up with that?), wants the United Nations to dismember Switzerland, an independent country for more than six centuries, and redistribute its constituent parts to Germany, Italy, and France.

I learned about this through an article in O'Dwyer's PR, a professional newsletter (subscription only), and I had to do a double-take because I thought I was reading something from The Onion or another satirical publication. The O'Dwyer's article reports that Libya's Mission to the United Nations has hired a public relations firm, Hopps & Associates, to represent Gadhafi during the coming year. (Libya was elected president of the General Assembly in June and takes the gavel this month.) The article then continues:

The abolishment of Switzerland is among Gaddafi's U.N. priorities. He will call for carving up of Switzerland and handing its parts to France, Italy and Germany. The Colonel has waged war against the Swiss after authorities arrested his son, Hannibal, for beating two workers at a Geneva hotel. More than $5B of Libyan funds have been yanked from Swiss banks, and the Tripoli office of Nestle has been shuttered.
Skeptical, I did some research to confirm this bizarre story, and found it to be true.

World Radio Switzerland, for instance, reports:
Mummar Gaddafi plans to officially ask the United Nations to eliminate Switzerland from the map. The Libyan leader first made the comments at the G8 meeting in Italy in July, but it was largely ignored by the world leaders.

He also said at the G8 meeting that Switzerland is ‘a mafia world, and not a country’. Gaddafi has apparently notified others that he will make his request during his first-ever visit to, and speech at, the UN General Assembly.
The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, added some details to the story:
He first mentioned his idea at the G8 summit in Italy in July. 'Switzerland is a world mafia and not a state,' he said.

'It is formed of an Italian community that should return to Italy, another German community that should return to Germany, and a third French community that should return to France.'

The Swiss Foreign Ministry described it as a single-minded campaign against Swiss interests.

Swiss MP Christa Markwalder, told the Swiss TV news programme 10 vor 10 this week: 'We are concerned that Libya will attempt to use its year-long presidency of the U.N. General Assembly to damage Switzerland's reputation.'
The good news -- for Switzerland, not for Gadhafi -- that the United Nations lacks the authority to carve up countries and feed the remains to their neighbors. (Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, for instance, broke apart from centrifugal forces of their own making, not because of intervention by a multilateral organization.)

Foreign Policy magazine notes on its blog:
A UN spokesman tells the Swiss News Agency that Libya submitted a proposal to the General Assembly calling for the dissolution of Switzerland last month. The proposal was never accepted or circulated because the U.N. Charter prohibits countries from threatening the existence of other member states....

The source of the Libya-Switzerland beef is an incident last year involving Qaddafi's ne'er-do-well son Hannibal. (See more about him in our list of the World's Worst Sons.)The young Qaddafi was arrested at a hotel in Geneva for aggravated assault on two of his servants. His father responded by lodging a formal diplomatic complaint, expelling Swiss diplomats, and shutting down Swiss-owned businesses in Libya.
If Gadhafi takes this proposal further, perhaps someone should challenge him to shoot an apple off the top of his son Hannibal's head.

Chances are, however, that nothing will come of this. Hannibal should have learned a long time ago that he'll lose more than he'll gain by crossing the Alps.

Be sure to visit my CafePress store for gifts and novelty items!
Read my blog on Kindle!

No comments: