Blogs > Cliopatria > AK 47

Nov 27, 2006 11:23 am

AK 47

Larry Kahaner provides an interesting op-ed/article to the Washington Post on the AK 47. Like some others who write popular history via a piece of technology, Kahaner overstates the centrality of the weapon in the history of the last 60 years by assuming that no one else would have come up with something similar.

Also, like Shaw’s character, Major Barbara (at the beginning of the play), Kahaner implicitly lumps together all uses of the weapon into the “bad” category. Unless one is a pure pacifist, there were at least some uses of the AK 47 that could be considered reasonable and even noble.

Still, by following the AK 47's history, he makes important points about how and why warfare has changed since the beginning of the Cold War. And he is right that a cheap abundance of easy-to-use killing machines makes it much easier to start wars and a lot harder to stop them.

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Gavin Robinson - 11/27/2006

"When German forces employed the lightning war, or blitzkrieg, in World War II, it was a marked change from how wars had been fought. Instead of static fighting -- hunkering down in trenches for weeks or months at a time as in World War I -- the blitzkrieg concentrated forces at one point in an enemy's defensive line, broke a hole and then thrust deep into enemy territory, catching opponents off guard and subjecting them to waves of brutally efficient invaders."

As Wick Murray said "There is only one problem with this theory. It is wrong."

But although the Germans didn't invent a radically new operational strategy and call it "Blitzkrieg", they did invent the assault rifle. If I remember correctly, the StG 44 combined the accuracy of a rifle with the rapid fire of an SMG, was in service before the end of the war, and even looked quite similar to the AK 47.