Saturday, January 17, 2009

God has given us Kalashnikovs, it is wrong not to use them

AK-47, The Story of the People's Gun is a biography of the Kalashnikov assault rifle. It's not a history. That would require a lot more than 200 pages. There are perhaps 100 million Kalashnikovs today, and they've killed millions of people all over the world. A history of the AK-47 is a history of the second half of the 20th century. Michael Hodges has instead tried to capture the soul of the AK-47, through stories that illustrate it as a weapon and as an icon:

AK-47, the Soviet gun. Made after the Second World War in preparation for the Third, designed to be simple and durable enough to hand out to millions of poorly trained conscripts.

AK-47, the anti-imperialist gun. Symbol of third world revolution. Picked up by American soldiers in Vietnam because their M-16s were sensitive to the climate.

AK-47, the terrorist gun. For some, a tool for killing, as in Munich in 1972. For modern Islamists, a symbol, a brand they've appropriated. The anti-Coca Cola.

Hodges argues that the Kalashnikov is in itself a cause of many conflicts. Once you've dropped a few million into an area, they remain for decades, long after the original conflict is over, encouraging people to solve their conflicts with violence. You can't enforce law and order in a Kalashnikov culture.

There's probably something to this. But removing cheap weapons is perhaps not a practical road to world peace.

And Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor? He's still alive, and has his own vodka brand. Not quite the Nobel road.



At 29 April, 2009 02:34 , Blogger FHB said...

Ii have about a dozen at home. Love them all.


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