February 08, 2011

Today's essential Afghan reading: Max Hastings

A throwaway but thought-provoking conclusion to the NYRB review (not fully online: subscription link here) by Sir Max Hastings (Bomber Command, Overlord, The Battle for the Falklands) of Afghan war correspondent and ex-soldier C.J. Chivers' The Gun, a history of the AK-47:

"But Chivers's book touches upon something important about the West's dealings with relatively primitive societies, and strongly demonstrated in Afghanistan today. We show ourselves consistently incapable of connecting with peoples who live on a different technological plane from ourselves. In my view, our current purposes in Afghanistan are honorable not only from our own perspective, but with respect to the interests of the Afghan people. I nonetheless believe that we shall fail there, in some degree because the AK-47, which every fighting tribesman loves, is a true manifestation of his society, however uneducated and primitive, while the Hellfire missile, the Chinook helicopter, and the Drone are not.

"Mikhail Kalashnikov forged a weapon that perfectly accords with the aspirations of hundreds of millions of people around the world who reject Western values..."

Posted by BruceR at 12:00 AM