Medical Advances, Medical History
Before 9/11, Why Didn't We Go After the Taliban and Al Qaeda?

A Review of C. J. Chivers' The Gun

C. J. Chivers, former Marine infantry officer and graduate of U.S. Army Ranger school, has a book called The Gun which treats the history of the AK-47.  The history is interesting, but so is the conclusion the reviewer draws about the existence of the weapon in conflict zones. the 1920s and 1930s, when the young Mikhail Kalashnikov was struggling to cope with the rigors of a Siberian exile, there were thousands of men and women in the developed world who thought it would be genuinely possible to disarm by simply producing no more weapons and scrapping those that existed. The accounts by the antiwar lobby of how this might come about seem naive even in their own time, but the will to confront the reality of terrible armaments and to prevent their development and dissemination was born of a profound and humane rejection of violence. This is a sentiment that no doubt still widely exists, but it is seldom openly expressed.

There is a danger that a mixture of cynicism, hopelessness and insecurity among the wider public, together with the military ambitions and fears of their governments, will persuade most of us to take the existence of all weapons, from nuclear bombs to Kalashnikovs, as the price to be paid for a human world in many parts of which peace, security and human decency have been and remain slogans bizarrely out of step with reality. Would this world have been a better place without Kalashnikovs? Sadly not. The problem is not the weapon but the man.

That's surely correct.  After all, in Rwanda's terrible massacre of a decade ago, it was the machete used for the bulk of the killing.