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"A Considerable Windfall of Swiss Francs": La politique d'armement britannique envers la Suisse au début de la Guerre froide

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Revue Suisse d'Histoire
Issue number2
Volume65
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)230-248
Publication statusPublished
Original languageFrench

Abstract

During the early Cold War, Britain was Switzerland’s main supplier of modern and heavy weaponry, such as jet aircraft and tanks. Whereas Washington was first unwilling and then reluctant to strengthen the defences of neutral Switzerland, London was willing to sell even its most advanced weapons systems. The British arms sales to Switzerland were mainly, yet not solely driven by the Treasury’s desperate need for hard currency. The Anglo-Swiss relationship and thus London’s and Berne’s incentives for arms transfers were more complex and multifaceted. Cordial political relations, a certain economic interdependence, and an intimate defence relationship provided additional reasons for large weapons deliveries from Britain’s arsenal to the Swiss Armed Forces. Accordingly, this article uses Anglo-Swiss arms transfers to analyse the British position towards neutral Switzerland during the early Cold War. Although Whitehall considered the sale of weapons as a means to improve its economic position towards Switzerland and, to a lesser extent, bring about a closer defence relationship, it never attempted to use them as a means to wean the Swiss from neutrality. Despite the largely bipolar Cold War order, the British continued to see a neutral, but western-oriented Switzerland in their interest.