The Joys Of Life, Issue 3


Now that Halloween is upon us, I want to talk about something sPoOkY: War. Specifically, the wars in Liechtenstein. And kinda just the entire concept of Liechtenstein. It’s pretty great, 10/10, five stars, the whole sha-bang. But, like, it also shows us an example of what is essentially an entirely peaceful state of existence. And in these…troubled times that might be exactly what we need.

Liechtenstein, or “The Principality of Liechtenstein” if you wanna be all fancy about it, is a country in Central Europe that borders Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, otherwise known as the Bad Boys of Europe. It’s right in the middle of the Alps, so it’s like the Utah of Europe. Just a ton of skiing. Fun fact: the double “I” in skiing is my favorite thing about the English language.

It is the sixth smallest country in the world, it isn’t in the EU, and it is known for being a tax haven, but one of the legal ones, so it’s all good. It’s the last surviving chunk of the Holy Roman Empire, and it’s like, total monarchy. Also, the Prince of Liechtenstein is literally richer than the Queen of England and I can’t really tell if that’s an issue, but I’m not gonna look further into it in case I uncover something… sketchy.

Liechtenstein has 38,052 people (and it didn’t change the entire time I wrote this article, which means no new Liechtenstein babies, which is an absolute travesty). 38052 is also the zip code for Middleton, Tennessee, which means, just like kiwis, Liechtenstein is also in the big leagues. Speaking of Middleton, I think Parker should bring in Jackie L. Cox, the mayor of the 706 person town, to do an MX because it would be so beautiful I can’t even imagine. Liechtenstein has basically no resources because it’s tiny, but it does produce the world’s most fake teeth. So, if you have fake teeth, there’s a 20% chance you got them from Liechtenstein and that just makes me smile (no pun intended).

Liechtenstein is basically just Switzerland but small and not paranoid. It borrows the German language from Germany, but it’s a Swiss-i-fied version that also has some Austrian twang and Italian embellishments. Liechtenstein borrows the Swiss franc, the currency, which, by the way, why is it called the franc? Like, I think it comes from France because: France, Franc. You know? But that’s just a guess, I’ll throw this one to the embryonic democracy to figure out.

Anyway, this is the important part, so PAY ATTENTION! Did I scare you? Hehe, I scared you… Liechtenstein doesn’t have any military! It doesn’t do conflict. Now, most countries in Europe haven’t done conflict since World War II, which was 80 years ago, but Liechtenstein hasn’t done conflict since the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. They sent 80 people to go fight Italy, and came back with 81 because the soldiers made “an Italian friend.” Which, like, imagine if wars today were like that. WE’LL COME BACK TO THAT IDEA LATER! 

So, these dudes from Liechtenstein were like, “Italy let’s fight.” And Italy was like, “Sure.” And the rest of Europe was like, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” And so they did, but then they were both like, “This is juvenile and silly and dumb.” And one of the Italian soldiers was like, “These Liechtenstein people are really cool, I’m gonna go be friends with them.” And so 80 Liechtensteiners and their Italian friend went back to Liechtenstein and then the entire country decided to be totally chill for 153 years.

You might be wondering about World War II? Liechtenstein didn’t have a military and they were kind of in Germany’s way. How did Liechtenstein stay out of that clusterfrank? The truth: Liechtenstein claimed neutrality and Hitler, like, just went around. And he just skipped it like I skip leg day. Crazy stuff.

They did have one issue. In 2007, the Swiss military was doing some training and they accidentally crossed the border and invaded Liechtenstein. They marched through 1.5 kilometers before realizing they screwed up big time and then they left and went home and later Switzerland called Liechtenstein and was like, “Sorry, we screwed up.” And Liechtenstein was like, “No, you’re cool.” And now they’re pals.

So what is Liechtenstein’s secret? Is it that it’s small and has no people? Is it that it has no natural resources? Whatever the case, no one seems to take issue with Liechtenstein minding its own business. And I think this is a really optimistic sign for the state of humanity and our nature. There is a country on this planet that hasn’t needed an active military in 153 years. Longer than Costa Rica. Longer than Iceland. Longer than Andorra. Liechtenstein is a tale of peace and prosperity. 

I think that the United States could learn a thing or two from Liechtenstein. Now, they are two different countries, I know, with different sizes and struggles, but I think the way that the U.S. thinks about war and the way Liechtenstein thinks about war are very different and they do not have to be.

I’ve outlined the modern history of conflict in Liechtenstein. The modern history of war in the United States is very different. We had two wars against England, a war against ourselves, two wars against Germany, two wars against Communism, two wars against terrorism, and one war against drugs. We had a surprising number of “wars” against Native American tribes, slowly pushing them off of their land. We’ve invaded countries around the world that we’ve had no reason to be involved with. We’ve removed leaders we don’t like, created instability in nations around the world and caused the deaths of millions of men, women, and children. I think we need to stop.

That sounds naive. Stop war. Duh. Grayson, you’re stoopid. You can’t even spell stuupid right. My point: There hasn’t been a day of my life where my nation has not been engaged in a global conflict. There hasn’t been a day in a Liechtensteiner’s life where their nation has been engaged in a conflict. Why can’t The United States of America be more like Liechtenstein in this regard?

I’m not suggesting isolationism. I’m suggesting that we, as a community and a nation, reflect on what it means to enter war and how we can avoid it. Tulsi Gabbard, a military veteran, a representative for the U.S. Congress, and a Democratic Presidential Candidate has been labeled a Russian asset by Hillary Clinton for wanting to stop endless regime change wars. That’s insane?!? Her point: We can fight terrorism, but getting involved in regime change wars is not helpful. That’s her whole point. I don’t think that’s naive. I think it is an eminently reasonable conversation to be having. I think it is a conversation that does not get enough attention and I hope that conversation can start here at Parker.