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Exclusive clubs

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150182.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 6:04 am Reply with quote

In 2006, Iceland joined one of the world’s smallest “clubs” - that of undefended nations.

The other countries that don’t have any armed forces at all are: Haiti (since 1995); Costa Rica (1949); Panama (1990); Mauritius (1968); Solomon Islands (?); Maldives (1965); Micronesia (17th century); Vatican City (?).

The nearest thing Iceland has to an army is a civilian crisis response unit, 50-strong, for use in overseas peacekeeping duties. It also has about 1,000 police, mostly unarmed, for its 300,000 population.

Iceland has only been invaded once in its modern history - by the British, in May 1940. There were fears that Iceland would fall to the Germans, so the British took pre-emptive action. They then asked the neutral USA to take over as a security force. Surprise, surprise, the Yanks didn't leave until 2006!

Iceland was important to the Americans during the Cold War. The only other “war” the island has been involved in were the two Cod Wars - fishing disputes with the UK, during the 1970s. On that occasion, the Icelanders put pressure on the USians, who ordered Britain to surrender.

Many Icelanders are very angry about the US withdrawal; presumably, the sudden departure of thousands of men will have an effect on the local economy. The US told Iceland it was off, with just six months notice, by means of a phone call from a junior State Department official. Icelandic leaders warn that the US is being short-sighted; the Cold War may be over, but when the Resource Wars get going in a year or so, Iceland will once again be strategically positioned. The manner of the Americans’ leaving, Icelanders warn, means that they might not be so welcome when they want to come back.

Source: Daily Telegraph, 21 July 06.

150277.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:08 am Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
The other countries that don’t have any armed forces at all are: Haiti (since 1995); Costa Rica (1949); Panama (1990); Mauritius (1968); Solomon Islands (?); Maldives (1965); Micronesia (17th century); Vatican City (?).

Do those last two count? The CIA world factbook says that defence of Micronesia is the responsibility of the USA, while defence of the Holy See is the responsibility of Italy.

If you're going to include them, you should also include Liechtenstein which, as Vitali pointed out on the Liechtenstein thread, also has no army with defence being the responsibility of Switzerland these days.

150294.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:40 am Reply with quote

Yes, I suspect the definition would be fairly tricky. I'm guessing that the D Tel list was of countries that have no troops within their borders, even those of their protectors.

150303.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:53 am Reply with quote

Fair point.

I wonder if the Swiss Guard count as "troops" :)

150314.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 10:05 am Reply with quote

re: the invasion thing, am I right in thinking this was the only (?) first (?) invasion of a neutral country during WWII?

150315.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 10:06 am Reply with quote

I think they're considered more of a "security force". Bit like Group Four, only appealing more to the transvestite market ...

150347.  Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:07 am Reply with quote

There are other countries which have no armed forces of their own, but have - formally or informally - arrangements with other countries to defend them in case of invasion.

Wiki provides a list - in most cases there are either quasimilitary units within the police force, or else there are arrangements with other countries to provide defence in time of need.

The only country utterly without a defence force of any kind seem to be Costa Rica - where the establishment of an army is forbidden by the constitution.

Various South Pacific islands have no forces of their own, but there are tacit understandings that Australia will render assistance if needed, while seven Caribbean nations share an army.

150575.  Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:40 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
while seven Caribbean nations share an army.

Does the army spend each day of the week in a different nation on a kind of timeshare scheme?

150602.  Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:52 am Reply with quote

Wherever the cricket is that week, Bob!


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