Center for Security Studies (CSS)

About the CSS


CSS News

14 April 2014

Matthias Bieri on the challen-
ges for the EU’s engagement in Kosovo

> IPG (in German)


1 April 2014

The “Journal 21” covers the state of global politics marking the launching of “Strategic Trends 2014” (in German)

> Journal 21

Open Positions

Student Software Developer


Media Contributions

16 April 2014
In the struggle with Russia, the West must continue to hold its values, without deepening the confrontation with Moscow, argues Oliver Thränert. (in German)

> Der Tagesspiegel


31 March 2014
Jonas Grätz, Michael Haas, and Martin Zapfe publish excerpts of their chapters in “Strategic Trends 2014” in the Neuer Zürcher Zeitung.

> Neue Zürcher Zeitung


Further media contributions




The Idiosyncrasies of Contemporary Swiss Security Policy and Practice

A Strategic Culture-Based Explanation

Author(s): Wilhelm Mirow

In: Contemporary Security Policy

Reviewed: yes

Publisher(s): Routledge

Date: 2012/07/06

Publication Year: 2012

The peculiarities of Swiss security policy since the end of the Cold War are best explained not through Switzerland's structural position but through its unique strategic culture. Compared to other European neutrals, there are three particular idiosyncratic expressions of Switzerland's neutrality: strict adherence to institutional non-alignment in Swiss foreign and security policy; the Swiss army's militia principle; and the Swiss system of civil defence. Given their relative persistence despite radical changes in the strategic environment, these idiosyncrasies deserve more research attention and more theoretical scrutiny. This article argues that an examination of Swiss strategic culture, based on historical and identity narratives as well as public opinion, best explains the puzzle of distinctiveness. The article highlights the importance of the vernacular in conceptualizations of strategic culture, and explores the explanatory utility of strategic culture compared to explanations based on realist or institutional factors derived from rationalist theories. Strategic culture reveals current constraints imposed upon policymakers as well as ideological resources available for new directions in security policy. This analysis shows there is little room within Swiss strategic culture for a transformation of security policy, but there are opportunities for a discursive transformation of Swiss identity and strategic culture that allow for a better use of strategic and military resources.


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