Guerrilla Warfare

The term ‘guerrilla’ originates from the actions of small bands of Spanish soldiers who fought against Napolean’s French army in the Peninsular War (1807-1814). The word ‘guerrilla’ is Spanish for “little war”.
The tactics employed by “guerrillas” date back to the ideas of Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist who lived over 2000 years ago. Sun Tzu argued that all warfare involves the employing of one’s strength to exploit the weakness of the enemy. In his book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu gives several suggestions on how to defeat an enemy that is larger and better equipped than your own army.
Sun Tzu’s ideas were successfully adapted by Mao Zedong, the leader of the communist forces in China. The establishment of a communist government in China was an inspiration to all revolutionaries in South East Asia. This was especially true of China’s neighbour, Vietnam.
The strategy and tactics of the National Liberation Front were very much based on those used by Mao Zedong in China. The NLF was organised into small groups of between three to ten soldiers. These groups were called cells. These cells worked together but the knowledge they had of each other was kept to the bare minimum. Therefore, when a guerrilla was captured and tortured, his confessions did not do too much damage to the NLF.
The initial objective of the NLF was to gain the support of the peasants living in the rural areas. According to Mao Zedong, the peasants were the sea in which the guerrillas needed to swim: “without the constant and active support of the peasants… failure is inevitable.”
When the NLF entered a village they obeyed a strict code of behaviour. All members were issued with a series of ‘directives’. These included:” (1) Not to do what is likely to damage the land and crops or spoil the houses and belongings of the people; (2) Not to insist on buying or borrowing what the people are not willing to sell or lend; (3) Never to break our word; (4) Not to do or speak what is likely to make people believe that we hold them in contempt; (5) To help them in their daily work (harvesting, fetching firewood, carrying water, sewing, etc.).”
Most peasants in South Vietnam were extremely poor. For centuries, the Vietnamese peasants had accepted this state of affairs because they believed that poverty was a punishment for crimes committed by their ancestors. The NLF educated the peasants in economics and explained how poverty was the result of the landowner’s selfishness. They pointed out that fifty per cent of the agricultural land in South Vietnam was owned by only two and a half per cent of the population. Two thirds of the peasants owned no land at all and were therefore forced to work for the rich landlords.
The NLF’s solution to this problem was to take the property of the large landowners and distribute it amongst the peasants. In some cases, the landowners were executed as a punishment for the way they had treated the peasants in the past.
In return for the land they had been given, the peasants agreed to help the NLF by feeding and hiding them. In some cases, the peasants also agreed to take up arms with the NLF and help ‘liberate’ other villages.
The peasants were motivated by fear as well as a sense of gratitude. The NLF told them that if the United States Marines or ARVN managed to gain control of the village, they would take the land back. Given this situation, it is not surprising that the peasants saw the NLF as their friends and the US Marines/ARVN as the enemy.
This view was re-inforced if the NLF left the village to escape advancing US or South Vietnamese troops. In an effort to discover information about the NLF, the peasants were sometimes tortured. If evidence was found of the NLF being in the village, the people were punished. As William Ehrhart, a US marine explained:”… they’d be beaten pretty badly, maybe tortured. Or they might be hauled off to jail, and God knows what happened to them. At the end of the day, the villagers would be turned loose. Their homes had been wrecked, their chickens killed, their rice confiscated – and if they weren’t pro-Vietcong before we got there, they sure as hell were by the time we left.”
As well as taking over the running of villages, the NLF would send out patrols into government controlled areas. The tactics they employed have been described by Robert Taber, who fought with the guerrillas inCuba, as the war of the flea: “The flea bites, hops, and bites again, nimbly avoiding the foot that would crush him. He does not seek to kill his enemy at a blow, but to bleed him and feed on him, to plague and bedevil him… All this requires time. Still more time is required to breed more fleas… the military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend; too small and agile an enemy to come to grips with.”
To defeat the more powerful enemy, the guerrilla needs to dictate the terms of warfare. In the words of Mao Zedong: “The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”
The NLF was told not to go into combat unless it outnumbered the enemy and was certain of winning. It therefore concentrated on attacking small patrols or poorly guarded government positions. To increase its advantage, the NLF relied heavily on night attacks.
At first the NLF used hand-made weapons such as spears, daggers and swords. However, over a period of time, it built up a large supply of captured weapons. A US army survey of weapons in 1964 discovered that 90% of weapons taken from the NLF had previously belonged to the ARVN and the US army.
In 1965, General William Westmoreland developed the aggressive strategy of ‘search and destroy’. The objective was to find and then kill members of the NLF. The US soldiers found this difficult. As one marine captain explained: “You never knew who was the enemy and who was the friend. They all looked alike. They all dressed alike.” Innocent civilians were often killed by mistake. As one Marine officer admitted they “were usually counted as enemy dead, under the unwritten rule ‘If he’s dead and Vietnamese, he’s VC’.”
In the villages they controlled, the NLF often built underground tunnels. These tunnels led out of the villages into the jungle. They also contained caverns where they stored their printing presses, surgical instruments and the equipment for making booby traps and land mines. If US patrols arrived in the village unexpectedly, the NLF would hide in these underground caverns. Even if the troops found the entrance to the tunnels, they could not go into the tunnels as they were often too small for the much larger American soldiers.
The overall strategy of guerrilla warfare is to involve the enemy in a long-drawn out war. The aim is to wear down gradually the much larger and stronger enemy. It is only when all the rural areas are under their control and they are convinced that they outnumber the opposition, that the guerrillas come out into the open and take part in conventional warfare. Thus the NLF, who were based in the thick forests of South Vietnam, began by taking control of the villages in the rural areas. As their strength grew and the enemy retreated, they began to take the smaller towns.
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Growing arms for Business

 

The gun control debate is nothing new. And, sadly, it finds new life every time there is an unnecessary death caused by someone with a gun.

This week on Counting the Cost, we take a look at gun control, focusing on the money trail; the way money moves in and out of the system, at both a corporate and political level, and the influence it has.

Inevitably our discussion focuses on the US, where there are 90 guns for every 100 people. It is an incredible statistic, and through a simple law of averages tells you a lot about why there is so much gun-related crime in the US.

We have got more of those statistics from around the world on this week’s show, as well as two guests to explain different angles of the debate.

Hubert Williams, a former law enforcement official, has his views on how to control guns, reign-in the purchasing of them, and still uphold the Second Amendment which allows Americans to hold and bear arms. 

While Viveca Novak from opensecrets.org sheds more light on how ‘gun money’ influences American politics. Research conducted by her organisation reveals a huge clash – in ideals, at the very least – between politicians charged with reforming gun control and politicians who receive campaign money from the gun lobby.

Also this week, Steve Chao returns with more of his reports from around Asia. Last week he brought us a special report and series of interviews from Macau. This week it is Taiwan, where the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon has hurt a once-strong manufacturing industry. But he has found some who taking some creative measures to bring back business.

And Matt Rumsey is in Switzerland with a story about horses, watches and $130m worth of sponsorship money. That is how much watchmaker Longines is throwing at the sport of equestrianism, proving once again how some big corporates are surviving this economic downturn pretty well.
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Inventions that changed the world: Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47

Inventions that changed the world: Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47

 Mikhail Kalashnikov's AK-47 assault rifle
Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47 assault rifle
 It’s the most effective killing machine in human history – a gun that, on its 62nd birthday, is still killing as many as a quarter of a million people every year, in every corner of the globe. Invented by a gifted tank mechanic to save Russia’s motherland from the invading German hordes in WW2, the AK-47 went on to rise to global prominence during the proxy battles of the Cold War. Even today, the most poorly trained militia group becomes a force to be reckoned with once it finds a supply of AK-47s – such is its simplicity, reliability, affordability and sheer killing power. We take a look at this amazing weapon’s history, its significance and its brutal dominance of world politics.
Setting aside moral considerations, the definition of a great invention, to me, is one that catches on. One that changes the way things are done, one that has a far wider impact than, perhaps, its inventor ever intended.
Of course, a great invention also needs to be really effective at its purpose. And this invention is a weapon. It was designed to kill people and win wars – a pretty distasteful topic and I hope you can bear with us through some grisly details, because if you can get past that, this is really quite an amazing story.
In terms of effectiveness, the weapon we’re looking at is quite probably responsible for more deaths than any other individual model of weapon in human history. Sixty years after it was first launched, this weapon still kills around a quarter of a million people every year.
Beyond that, it has truly changed the course of human history in so many different conflicts that we hardly have time to discuss them. This is a weapon that you can introduce into a war zone, and suddenly David starts beating Goliath. In today’s modern warfare, it’s the tool that lets “freedom fighter” groups – or “terrorist” groups, depending on whose politics you follow – hold off entire armies of well-trained soldiers packing million-dollar weapons systems. It’s the weapon that’s making life so tough for the U.S. forces now occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is, of course, Mikhail Kalashnikov’s assault rifle: the AK-47.
World War 2: The AK-47 is born
To look at what makes the AK such a brilliant invention, we need to look back to its origins in World War 2, during Hitler’s surprise invasion of Russia.
Russia’s defense of the motherland was pretty much a battle of attrition. Hitler knew he couldn’t hope to clothe and feed millions of surrendered prisoners of war as he advanced through Russia – so from the earliest battles, the Germans were given clear instructions to go for encirclement maneuvers, which let them define anybody inside their circle as “behind their lines” and exterminate them. The Eastern Front ended up becoming the bloodiest battle in all history, with as many as 5 million killed on the German side and more than 10 million killed on the Russian side.
And this was a new type of warfare, as well, to what had previously been waged. Open-field and trench warfare was much less common than vicious urban skirmishes, with every Russian that was able to hold a rifle fighting to the last bullet and bayonet for his piece of ground. You could partly call this kind of resistance bravery – but it was also partly due to the fact that Stalin had a habit of making gruesome examples of any soldier that retreated against orders. So it was a case of die fighting or die in shame for a lot of those poor Russians.
Either way, the fighting was at close quarters and the Russians’ heavy machineguns, light submachineguns and slow but accurate rifles were struggling to keep pace with the German Sturmgewehr, or “storm rifle,” the first of the modern “assault rifles” and an excellent gun that combined the midrange abilities of a rifle with the close-quarters firepower of a machinegun.
Mikhael Timofeevitch Kalashnikov had seen the wrath of these new assault rifles first-hand. As a tank mechanic-cum-tank commander, he had been in charge of a tank as the Nazi forces descended upon the town of Bryansk, south of Moscow, in September 1941.
More than 80,000 people died in that battle, and only a fifth of the town remained standing. Kalashnikov’s tank came under artillery fire and Mikhail fled with a wounded shoulder, eventually reaching a friendly hospital after a terrifying two-day walk filled with visions of what the Germans were surely doing to the comrades he left behind. These visions turned to nightmares when he made it to a hospital bed, and he became obsessed with the idea of designing a new weapon that could save the motherland.
It needed to match the Sturmgewehr’s light weight and fast, automatic fire. It needed to be cheap and simple to manufacture. And perhaps above all, it needed to be capable of functioning reliably in the incredibly difficult and diverse conditions of Russian warfare; you had to be able to shoot, strip and clean it with gloves on. It needed to work wet, dry, full of mud or sand. It needed to operate with wide enough tolerances such that its metal could expand and contract between the icy Russian winter and the warm summer, and the gun would still operate. Kalashnikov made his first sketches right there in his hospital bed.
It took him until 1947 to perfect his design to the point where it would begin to proliferate through the Russian army. The Avtomat Kalishnikova 1947 – or AK-47 was born.
It was born too late to help in World War 2 – although the Russians’ sheer grit and determination helped them to win that conflict and drive Hitler out. For the next several years, Russian soldiers were careful to keep their AKs concealed in special pouches to disguise their shape – such was their belief that this weapon had the ability to turn the tides of war.
In fact it wasn’t until 1956 that the AK saw its first proper public outing, as Khrushchev dispatched the Red Army to quell an uprising in Budapest, Hungary. 50,000 Hungarians died in that battle, and only about 7,000 Russians.
The Cold War years – the AK becomes Russia’s greatest gift to its allies
But the AK really took off over the next 25 years during the Cold War. As Larry Kahaner points out in his excellent Washington Post article, America and the U.S.S.R. both knew they were exposing themselves to the possibility of atomic attack if they were to face each other in direct warfare. Mutually Assured Destruction, as they called it, M.A.D.
So instead, each of these superpowers would quietly thwart the other’s movements by sneakily supplying weapons to their enemy’s enemies. Russia started quietly giving countries like China, East Germany and North Korea free licenses to start mass-producing the AK-47. Decades of Cold War aggression had the U.S. and U.S.S.R. fighting so-called “proxy battles” in distant countries with terrible fighting conditions, poorly-trained soldiers and virtually no infrastructure in place for weapons repair and maintenance.
And here’s where the AK was absolutely perfect for the job. I mean, if you put the AK-47 up against the vast majority of American firearms, it looks like it comes up short on paper. It’s well known to be wildly inaccurate due to its wide manufacturing tolerances and poor sighting equipment. If you watch one being fired in slow-motion, you can see the whole thing bending and flexing around with each shot, it looks like it’s just about to fall apart – and that adds to the recoil effect, making it even less accurate if you’re holding the trigger down in full-automatic machine gun mode.  
So yes, the AK is absolute rubbish if you’re shooting at a target or aiming for a fella that’s running between bits of cover a couple hundred meters away. But, if you’re fighting in the jungles of, say, Vietnam, where American troops first had to come up against the AK, the situation’s a bit more like this: you’re hiking through the dense, wet forest with your platoon, you can’t see very far because of all the dense vegetation, your nerves are on a razor’s edge because, any second, you might come across an enemy squad. Now, they’ve either been waiting for you and setting traps, or they’ll be just as surprised to see you as you are to see them.
This is not an environment that rewards great accuracy. Half the time you’re shooting before you’ve even seen where the enemy is, all you’ve got is a few muzzle flashes and noises to go by. The AK-47’s lack of accuracy could almost be seen as an advantage in this kind of war theater; every group of shots gives a wider spray than with a more accurate gun; you’ve got a better chance of hitting something.
And while we’re in Vietnam, let’s remember that the AK was designed by a tank mechanic to be ready for action through that foul Russian winter that brought both Napoleon and Hitler to their knees. You can be sure of death, you can be sure of taxes, and you can be sure that your AK-47 will fire, no matter what.
The sheer reliability of this thing is absolutely astounding. There’s videos all over the Internet of AKs being pulled out of sand, mud, water, running them over with Humvees… You can pull them straight out and start shooting.  
There’s a famous story of the American Army Colonel and military journalist David Hackworth coming across the body of a Russian soldier that had been dead and buried in mud for more than a year. He drags the soldier’s AK-47 out of the earth, points it at the sky and fires a clean 30 rounds without even dusting it off.
If you look after a Kalashnikov, you can get up to 40 or 50 years’ worth of active service out of them. Abuse the hell out of the thing with sand, water, poor maintenance and you might find it lasting a mere 20 years. And if a part does break, the design has proliferated to every corner of the globe and it’s hardly changed in more than 60 years. You can grab a 1950 magazine and plug it straight into an AK that rolled off a Chinese production line yesterday and start shooting. It’s like the Volkswagen Beetle of firearms.
So in Vietnam, when the American M-16 assault rifle started jamming in jungle warfare, you had this bizarre situation where U.S. troops would often throw away their slick, sophisticated firearms and pick up any AK-47 they could get their hands on from dead enemy soldiers. And this kind of thing starts a legend growing; all the might and money of the United States couldn’t build a better gun than the cheap, simple communist Kalashnikov.
The AK’s Russian winter origins had other advantages in Cold War conflicts; because it had to be designed to be completely operable and field-strippable in thick winter gloves, Mikhail Kalashnikov designed it to be exceptionally easy to use, clean and assemble. You can take a person off the street anywhere in the world, sit them down, and teach them how to own and operate an AK-47 in the space of a few hours. You don’t need special equipment to clean them – in fact, if you tie a few knots in a bootlace and dip it in engine oil, you can drag it through the barrel and clean the thing as well as you need to. 
You can see how this kind of everyman’s weapon can start causing a bit of chaos once the genie’s out of the bottle – you don’t need to have a trained military to put up a solid fight if you’ve got these kinds of guns. All you need is local knowledge, and any kid with the guts to stand and fight for his home town can become a little Rambo. So America retreated from Vietnam, and Russian Communism took this as a great win.
The Genie is out of the bottle – the AK-47 bites Russia back
At this stage, the genie is starting to poke his head out of that bottle. Because now America realized what was possible when you gave Kaashnikov assault rifles to barely-organized militia groups in third world countries. So when the Soviets flooded into Afghanistan in 1979 to support the communist Afghan government against Islamic radicals, the U.S. saw its first chance to turn the famous Russian rifle back on its creators.
Over the course of the 10 years that Soviet forces spent in Afghanistan, The United States C.I.A. pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting the Mujahiddeen rebels, covertly channelling all kinds of weaponry their way – and significantly, arming them with Chinese and Egyptian Kalashnikov knockoffs by the container load from wherever they could be found. What the Soviets expected would be a short and decisive campaign turned into a bitter, unwinnable conflict, and the Mujahiddeen gave the Soviets every bit of the inglorious, embarrassing defeat that the Vietnamese handed out to the Americans.
Now the AK-47 had become a powerful symbol of resistance in the face of mighty superpowers – that familiar curved magazine started showing up on military statues all over the world. You wanna look like a strongman, hold up one of these things. All over Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East, counterfeit factories churned them out by the millions. Freedom fighters brandished their AKs in photos and videos in any corner of the globe where civil wars or resistance movements were breaking out, holding them up as if to say “we’ve got Kalashnikovs, and we’re not gonna budge.” It’s become such a powerful political tool that it appears on the emblems of several war-torn countries – and features prominently on the flags of both Mozambique and the Hezbollah.
And if Afghanistan didn’t totally let the genie right out of that bottle, the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union was the last straw. Enormous stockpiles of Soviet weaponry, including massive numbers of AK-47s, flooded both the black market and official channels. Prices for this already cheap firearm came crashing down, to the point where in some parts of the world, the AK-47 is now cheaper to buy than a live chicken.
And of course, a lot of those AK47s that America bought for the Islamic resistance in Afghanistan are now being pointed right back at U.S. forces, because as it turns out, radical Islamists don’t like American invasions any more than they like Soviet ones. We might like it when David beats those other Goliaths, but once people have a bunch of AK-47 assault rifles, they suddenly develop an ability to call the shots in their own homeland.
The AK-47 – still a deadly force in today’s world
The World Bank now estimates that out of a total of around 500 million firearms in circulation around the world today, around a fifth are Kalashnikovs – and something like 75 million are AK-47s or counterfeit knock-offs.
Production continues in dozens of countries including Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Iraq, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Poland, Serbia and the Sudan. Pakistani tribesmen have pulled the thing apart, measured it up and started building their own. In fact, counterfeiting is so common around the world that Russia is starting to make some very capitalist-sounding copyright and patent complaints about this, the most communist of all weapons.
If it was possible to measure such things, you’d almost certainly find that the AK-47 has killed more people that any other weapon in history – and its horrifying tally is showing no signs of slowing down. We hear surprisingly little in the western world about the genocides in Darfur, Rwanda, the Sudan and other places around the world, but you can bet the AK-47 plays a major part.
And all this began with that sketch in Mikail Kalashnikov’s hospital bed back in 1941. The AK-47 must go down as one of history’s greatest ever inventions. It’s more than 60 years old now, but it seems certain to make a huge impact on warfare and politics well into the forseeable future.
A last word from Mikhail Kalashnikov
Perhaps we’ll leave the last word to Mr. Kalashnikov himself, who turns 90 this November and lives around the corner from the Kalashnikov museum in Russia’s Ural Mountains. He’s been recognized as a folk hero for his work – and while he doesn’t make any royalties for his invention, he’s been making a pretty penny off his own name brand of Vodka.
On the 60th anniversary of the AK’s debut, Kalashnikov was asked if he had any regrets about creating the biggest killer the world has ever seen. He replied: “I invented it for the protection of the motherland. I have no regrets and bear no responsibility for how politicians have used it.”
Imagine, though, turning on your television every night, and seeing that beautifully, perfectly functional shape you spent your finest years creating. That banana shaped magazine, that wooden grip that you spent so long perfecting. And there it is in the hands of an Osama Bin Laden, a South American revolutionary, a Somali pirate, a Burmese military policeman, creating death and destruction and genocide. That rogue genie that turns quick conflicts into long-fought, deadly battles. It’s not lost on Mr. Kalashnikov. In another interview, he admitted: “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower.”

A history of the AK-47, the gun that made history

AK-47 and Type 56 are rifles used in the military.
AK-47 and Type 56 are rifles used in the military. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 THE GUN

By C.J. Chivers
Simon & Schuster. 481 pp. $28
It is indisputably the most produced and iconic firearm design in history. Its distinctive curved magazine and pistol grip are recognized even by those with little knowledge of guns. It is the Avtomat Kalashnikova designed in 1947 – the AK-47.
Although it bears Mikhail Kalashnikov‘s name, the AK’s ubiquitous presence on the world stage more than six decades after its adoption as the standard Soviet-issue rifle can be squarely laid at the feet of Joseph Stalin, and its spread pinned on his successors. Although Cold War secrecy will prevent us from ever knowing the true number of AK-47-based rifles produced, some estimates put it at more than 100 million.
In “The Gun,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, former Marine officer and Persian Gulf War veteran C.J. Chivers sets out to “lift the Kalashnikov out of the simplistic and manipulated distillations of its history.” He succeeds admirably by putting the gun into its social, historical and technological context in an evocative narrative. He chronicles the evolution and employment of fully automatic firearms, the development of the Kalashnikov and how the rifle redefined modern warfare from its use in Hungary in 1956 to Afghanistan today. Chivers doesn’t descend into a technical description of the numerous AK makes, models and manufacturing variations, nor does he engage in a debate on domestic firearms legislation.
Chronicling the early quest for handheld firepower, Chivers concentrates first on two American inventors – Richard Gatling and Hiram Maxim – and their designs. The Gatling was a manually operated, artillery-size, multibarrel gun capable of a huge rate of fire, allowing small groups of late 18th-century Europeans to subjugate indigenous peoples throughout the world – so long as the guns worked. Weighing about a ton, the Gatling had little battlefield mobility, had to be cranked by hand and was not very reliable. When the Gatlings went down, often so did the small groups of European soldiers.

 It was Maxim who harnessed the excess energy of a fired cartridge to devise an absolutely reliable smaller machine that loaded and fired itself and would do so as long as ammunition was fed and the trigger pulled. Used in British colonial conflicts, such as the Battle of Omdurman in 1898, the Maxim performed even better than advertised, putting Gatling out of business. Summing up the advantage, Chivers quotes the French writer Hilaire Belloc in his 1898 narrative poem “The Modern Traveler”: “Whatever happens, we have got/the Maxim gun and they have not.” Ironically, it is those “have nots” with Kalashnikovs who are the source of much instability in the world today.
When the major European powers turned the Maxims on one another during World War I, the business of killing entered the industrial age, and the “devil’s paintbrush” decimated a generation. The leap from the ponderous Maxim to the AK is great, and Chivers necessarily covers many significant weapons only briefly. Gatling sought to “invent a gun which would do the work of 100 men,” but it was the Kalashnikov that placed such power in the hands of one man.
Although preceded by the German Sturmgewehr and its 7.92mm Kurz cartridge, the AK-47 marked the maturation of the assault rifle concept: a rifle with high magazine capacity and selective fire that allowed one shot to fly with each pull of the trigger or, with the flip of a switch, ammunition to be discharged in fully automatic mode. The chambering, neither an overpowered full-size rifle nor a smaller submachine cartridge but somewhere in between, was the M-1943 – later the 7.62x39mm. The intermediate-size M-1943 cartridge allowed that handheld firepower to be controllable.
The full story of the AK’s design and development is opaque, contradictory and will probably never be fully sorted out. A former Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times, Chivers had access to official sources in post-perestroika Russia and a deep understanding of the nature of the Soviet system, and he is a seasoned enough journalist not to swallow the party line on the AK-47 or anything else.
Kalashnikov did not design the gun in a vacuum; he had the full resources of the Soviet Union behind him. He had access to previous arms designs, and the end result was a brilliant amalgamation of their best features in one robust, reliable, simple-to-understand-and-operate rifle. It worked in any environment, was easy to manufacture, and could be assembled and disassembled with little guidance.
The same state that devoted a large proportion of its gross domestic product to the manufacture of firearms both blurred and then overinflated the genius of Kalashnikov – not only to protect the motherland but also to project its national will and export its ideology. Through Soviet assistance programs and the construction of factories all over the world, the AK became the genie let out of the bottle. It went from a tool of Soviet state power to a tool of repression, terrorism, insurgency and crime. It became, as ably put by Chivers, “Everyman’s gun.” But it wasn’t limited to men only – it also became a tool of violence and mayhem used by child soldiers.
The AK caught Western ordnance officials asleep at the switch, technologically and tactically. After samples of the AK became available, they missed the point of the gun. Because of a series of missteps – well described by Chivers – the United States fielded a rifle initially inferior in reliability to the AK, resulting in needless American deaths in Vietnam. It was so bad that some, such as Marine Gunnery Sgt. Claude Elrod, carried an AK-47 instead of an M-16 in combat. Several wars later, the M-16A2 and M-4 are reliable systems.
Stalin’s totalitarian state crumbled, but his assault rifle soldiers on.
Mark A. Keefe IV is editor in chief of American Rifleman, a journal of the National Rifle Association.
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CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus resignation

Generals’ dirty affairs

Khawaja Umer Farooq 
Thursday, November 15, 2012 – According to media news after CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus resignation, Pentagon said that the top American commander in Afghanistan Gen John Allen is also under investigation for alleged inappropriate communications. At the time when things are going bad to worse in Afghanistan and NATO withdrawal is coming near recent events and resignation of main architect of Iraq and Afghanistan wars Gen Petraeus and involvement of NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen Allen add further miseries for US mission in Afghanistan. US authorities are trying hard to cover the situation.

Defense Secretary Penata ordered an immediate investigation and temporarily stopped Gen Allen nomination as commander of US European command. Petraeus accepted that he had an affair with biographer Paula Broad. She was writing Gen Petraeus biography. Interestingly CIA chief had been caught between tussle of two women. FBI uncovered evidence of the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell after Broadwell sent harassing messages to another woman who informed FBI about Petraeus affair. Now Defense Department is reviewing thousands of pages of e mails between the commander of forces in Afghanistan and his close friend.

—Jeddah, KSA

Cyber war

Preventing cyber war

Khawaja Umer Farooq
New wave of cyber attacks around the world on sensitive installations prove that cyber threat has

become reality in these days. Despite growing cyber attacks world community is doing nothing to prevent this threat. It seems true that big powers are preparing for possible cyber war, hiring hackers and enhancing their cyber capabilities. After increasing cyber attacks battle of words is still going on between US, China, Russia and Iran everyone accuses each other of cyber attacks but no one want to face realties. After popularity of social media extremist organizations are widely using internet these days to enhance their agenda. They also launched several cyber attacks against their rivals and threat is growing. Financial and economic effects are more disastrous and Cyber war is more harmful than normal war and we can easily imagine its harmful effects. Although some countries have introduced tough laws against cyber crimes but at the time when poverty is growing in third world countries and Europe is facing worse financial crises most of countries are not able to allocate extra funds to prevent cyber threats. Only tough laws against cyber crimes and interest of big powers can improve further deterioration in the situation.

—Jeddah, KSA

Illegal arms trade

Khawaja Umer Farooq
Monday, September 03, 2012 – According to media news U.S. arms sales to other countries nearly tripled last year to $66.3 billion. Congressional Research Service has recently issued report detailing that American arms sales hit a record high in 2011. US small arms trade also grows to $8.5 billion a year and Israel is one of the top exporters of US weapons with sales worth US$12.9 billion. Its seems true that present modern world several wars, conflicts, militias, war lords are alive thanks to US weapon industry. Now unmamed drones, fighter jets, missiles and bombs are killing more people every year than natural disasters. True reality is that several billion dollarillegal weapon trade has become big threat for peace and security of modern world. Use of legal and illegal weapons is very common these days not only in third world poor countries but also in modern countries like US, France and Germany. Several bloody conflicts from Asia to Africa are getting all types of weapons through arms trade.

According to new estimates seventy four thousand women and children lost their lives every year because of Illegal weapons trade. Despite killing of large number of people every year world community is sitting silent and doing nothing to minimize illegal and legal arms trade because illegal arms trade is providing enough support to ailing economy of several countries including USA. UN member states have failed to agree on common draft to regulating the multibillion dollararms trade. However they agreed to hold more talks on the matter in future but things are going bad to worse after lack of interest of big powers. Many member nations accused the United States of blocking agreement after months long negotiations. Now Washington is asking more time to review its strategy. Recent failed negotiations also show that big powers have established their monopoly in UNO and UNO can do nothing without approval of big powers which is very unfortunate. Some big powers also have not yet signed lands mines banning treaty because of personal benefits. Thousands of people lost their lives every year in war affected countries because of land mines. Use of cluster bombs and banned weapons against civilian population isvery common these days and due to lack of interest of big powers civilian casualties increased dramatically in war affected countries.

—Jeddah, KSA

Pakistan and War on Terror

Khawaja Umer Farooq

According to media news after killing of twenty four Pakistani soldiers by Nato air attack and tough stance of Pakistan military and civil government rate of suicide attacks and terrorist activities drop dramatically in country. Despite massive US pressure Nato supply is still not moving in country and since long time no drone attacks reported in Pakistan tribal areas which is main cause of suicide revenge attacks in country. Now government is also reviewing all secret agreement regarding permission of drone attacks which was permitted my former dictator Musharraf. Recent change of events and drop in suicide and other terrorist activities also prove that instead of use of military power only change on strategy can bring peace in country. Due to army operation, continuous drone attacks and civilian casualties militants group found more sympathy and more recruiters to carry out their mission and country’s economy suffered badly. Tough stance of present government can bring further improvement if it sincerely reviews all secret agreements of former Musharraf era and minimizes their role in US led war on terror.

—Jeddah 

Foreign intervention in Mali


ccording to the current news, French forces have entered Mali to assist Mali government against rebel forces who are advancing towards the capital. Now French aircrafts are targeting possible rebel targets outside the capital. War has intensified and people are migrating to neighboring Mauritania for safety and shelter. Mali is a poor country and due to escalating war people are finding it hard to provide daily necessities to their families. Every war brings casualties; the French lost its first combat soldier after the start of the war. A French secret agent also lost his life in Somalia after a failed rescue operation conducted by French especial forces in Somalia.
Although the French president has assured that his forces would complete combat mission within a weeks but ground realities are different. Reality is that recent experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars proved that instead of solving problems and bring stability, foreign intervention makes things worse in these countries. Air strikes have killed innocent people and foreign intervention provides more opportunity to rebel forces to use for their propaganda purpose and hire more recruits to carry out their agenda.
KHAWAJA UMER FAROOQ,
Jeddah, January 14.

Mali’s ‘war images

As violence in Mali continues, we examine why journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to cover the story.
By now the images are familiar. Military airplanes from a rich industrial nation taking off to bomb an insurgency. Irregular fighters with AK-47s riding pickup trucks. Foreign journalists standing in front of the national monument telling you the latest. Turn on the news coverage of the Mali conflict and you would be forgiven for thinking you have seen all this before.

War in the media has become generic and some of the problems are practical. How do you report on a war in the remote northeast when you are stuck in a hotel in Bamako, hundreds of miles away in the southwest? Embedding with friendly forces and reporting from the capital can keep you far from the action and even further from the truth. Some say Mali has been a “war without images”, and if that is because the French government want the story told their way then journalists have a problem.

But the responsibility of reporters is more than just being in the right place at the right time. There is no such thing as observation without interpretation and words like ‘Islamist’, ‘atrocity’ and – especially – ‘terrorist’ are easy to say but not so easy to define. When journalists slip into the standard narratives there is plenty that does not fit in the picture.
Our News Divide this week picks apart the media coverage of the Mali conflict with the author and expert on the Western Sahel, Peter Chilson; Nii Akuetteh of the Democracy and Conflict Research Institute; James Creedon, who has been reporting from Mali for France 24; and political analyst Imad Mesdoua.

In our Newsbytes this week we come back to a subject we wish we never had to. The deaths of journalists in Syria and Somalia mean that 2013 is continuing how 2012 ended – as a lethal year for journalists. We also return to Thailand to report the latest journalist to be jailed for criticising the king. Lastly, a look at Alberto Baptista da Silva who, for months, beguiled the Portuguese media with his analysis of the economic crisis before being outed as a fake and a fraud.
Venezuela’s invisible president
This week’s feature story takes us to Venezuela where who else but President Hugo Chavez could be the centre of attention – except that he is nowhere to be seen. For six weeks he has been in a hospital bed in Cuba after treatment for cancer. His supporters say he is still ruling the shop and sending kisses from his sickbed. But the state-run Telesur – or ‘Tele-Chavez’ as its critics see it – is finding it hard to fill airtime with their main man away from the cameras, especially while the opposition are raising uncomfortable questions not only about the Chavez’s health but also about the political future of the country.

The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro delves into the media battle surrounding Venezuela’s invisible president. She talks to former Venezuelan communications minister, Andres Izarra; Sebastian de la Nuez, from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello; Elsy Barroeta, the executive producer for Globovision News; and the author Oscar Guardiola-Rivera.

Our web video of the week usually ends the show on a lighter note – serious topics but with a creative twist. But this week we have taken a turn towards the dark side. Steve Cutts, an East London-based designer, artist and animator has taken on edgy subjects before: the life of a man flashing before his eyes, arguing lovers going for each others’ throats and even a zombie apocalypse at the design office where he works in Shoreditch. With his latest work, “MAN”, he takes on his biggest challenge – rewriting the story of human evolution in a horrifying yet humorous race through humanity’s conquest of nature.