Switzerland was in a unique place among European countries after World War II. Although situated in the center of Europe, it had not been attacked by Nazi Germany and therefore emerged from the war with a strong economy, stable political institutions, and social cohesion. The experience of World War II forged a collective identity different from that in other continental states. The Swiss had a deep emotional commitment to neutrality and a conviction that autonomous defense would continue to be an effective security strategy after 1945. The Swiss government acknowledged the need for, and indeed was supportive of, the new United Nations collective security system. The Swiss were well aware of the benefits of Western collective defense and European integration as the Cold War divide came about. But Switzerland was willing to associate with these new multilateral governance structures only to the extent that they did not negatively affect neutrality or, in the case of European integration, Swiss economic interests.

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