The Kalashnikov assault rifle, wrote in his book "Automatic» (The Gun) CJ Chivers — is "the most recognized tool in the world, one of the world's most famous products." For half a century the AK-47 and its descendants and brutalized determined guerrilla conflict, terrorism and crime, it is frequent firearm in a world where 100 million refers to "Kalashnikov", 10 times more than all the other rifles.
Chivers, a Marine Corps veteran and senior editor of New York Times, издержал almost 10 years, mapping the distribution of "Kalashnikov" and unraveling the history of the rifle from the dusty archives of the government of the former USSR to the fields of battle in Afghanistan. The book "Automatic", written the history of this gun has been posted this week. He spoke on the electrical-mail with Charles Homans of Foreign Policy, answering questions about the implicit origin AK-47, how the machine of modern warfare has changed, and why until the end of the era of the Kalashnikov is still far away.
Foreign Policy: Russian atomic bomb and a Kalashnikov rifle were made in the same year, and you write that the United States made a critical mistake, Fixated on the bomb and ignored the machine. But unless the United States could do something to limit the spread and impact of the AK-47?
CJ Chivers: The United States is not responsible for the mass creation and accumulation of supplies of Kalashnikov rifles, and during the cool of the war they could not do anything to prevent it. Later, though from the standpoint of safety, of course, contribute, if the United States to do more to stem the spread of weapons and ammunition issued to the will of the cool stores of war, it would be useful to ask this question of China and Russia — the two main producers of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which show no intrigued is to eliminate the consequences of its own exports. Coupled with the fact there are so many methods to contain the continuing spread and replaced in order to use them decisively, the United States turned into naikrupneyshgo known buyer "Kalashnikovs", which they hand in Iraq and Afghanistan, in fact, without any accounting. One thing you can say about the story of the AK-47 — in fact no one in it does not look good.
— You will not regret it black to analyze the origin of the machine and the biography of its founder Misha Kalashnikov, sharing the legend of (often unattainable) facts. Why automatic creation of the scene so unique vague? Why is fundamentally how much we know about them?
— Of course, I'm interested in firearm. But it interests me not only as a tool or as a product. Firearm can tell us many things: it is as points, which can be used, considering the other subjects and topics. In this case, the proceedings in the origin of the "Kalashnikov" — is not just a tour of the evolution of automatic weapons. It is a journey in Russian Alliance of Stalin (and later Khrushchev), with all its state anxiety and the atmosphere of terror and heresy. This is a rather gloomy Ride. History Kalashnikov — a method to discern and appreciate how organized fraud and official propaganda, and how they work. Internal mechanisms of this propaganda makes searching [the truth] not easy. But they also make them particularly valuable.
— How can I remove all of the stories Kalashnikov mythology?
— I took advantage of textual consistency and technical analysis, and, of course, took a lot of interviews. First — is the collection of materials, storage of all public and private statements from people associated with the development of tools, which can only be found. Much of this material exists only in Russian. It takes years to find something that you can find and recognize it. I came across a closed official archives in Russia and try to find sources that could store the materials in their own apartments in Moscow or Leningrad, or the former Kiev.
As soon as I was collecting material time, associated with the application, I found that over the years the story of the Kalashnikov is changing, and that almost all of what he had read, questioned the need for employees, former close by when creating machine. I have also carefully studied the machine itself, and associate it with the fact that it is clear of other weapons, were developed at a time. So Makar, you can behold the properties borrowed (some might say "stolen") development team Kalashnikov other machines developed by other people. And I found that the evidence points to the fact that many of the thoughts attributed to Misha Kalashnikov, it seems, were not his own, and the authorship of some of them directly stated by people in his circle. In the end, the conclusion is inevitable: a Kalashnikov rifle, named in honor of Misha Kalashnikov, was not the result of illumination, the descended on the 1st person, and the fruit of the powerful, government-sponsored search, with the introduction of many developments, and it all has a dirty track record, including the fate of the 1 person engaged in the development, but later became a victim of repression. On the role of the man was silent for decades. Moreover, his Kalashnikov engineer with whom he worked more closely, claimed that a few basic details rifle — which, in fact, and make it what it is — were his thoughts, and that was against Mikhail Kalashnikov, and had to convince prevent these amendments in its penultimate layout. All this is contrary to the Russian legend. And it helps you to better understand the Russian Alliance.
— At what point in the spread of "Kalashnikov" has become unrestrained?
— The main decisions are unbridled creation and accumulation, which began in the 1950s in the countries of the Eastern bloc. After 10 was made of millions of rifles, did not take long, so the impact of this instrument was showed around the world.
— You write that out of all of the United States showed "the most disconcerting reaction" to the "Kalashnikov". Why are we alone could not understand the significance of the rifle when all others are realized?
— South American armed forces could not part with the idea of sniper-pioneer, and the thought had found its reflection in the notion of legalized shoot far South American infantrymen with an eagle eye. And here is the idea of the rifle with a shortened barrel that shoots gun — and these properties make it less clear, especially in the medium to longish distances. That was an AK-47 rifle. Cool war was in the beginning. Both parties make decisions about how to arm themselves. The Pentagon has studied the AK-47 and just did not sneer at them aloud. South American military establishment was not even organize an AK-47 rifle as. Traditionalists argued for a more languid rifle that produced more massive shots. Was developed and launched in the creation of the M-14 rifle. When the two met rifle in Vietnam, the Pentagon has realized his mistake.
— The experience of the American soldier in Vietnam, burdened with defective M-16 rifles and fighting in the criteria that favor the ability of "Kalashnikov", he brought a great contribution to the legend of the AK-47. That South American men to think of it now? Saves a rifle its mysterious appeal, when now we have a new fighter, a superior weapon?
— The fighters are these weapons with the deepest, though jealous reverence. Yes, there is now a gun and better, especially for fighting in a dry climate, where today there are regular clashes. But most of the soldiers I've talked to understand that their world is armed with "Kalashnikovs" that make the world more dangerous and jeopardize their lives.
;Kalashnikov" was the defining instrument of small wars and conflicts replacing wars cool, but it also determines the mess the next era of executions in 1989, the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu — the multi-fighter with "Kalashnikovs" — before the current conflict in Afghanistan. How to change the role and impact of this weapon after the collapse of the Russian Union?
— The impact has only increased since the extent that, as the fragile governments of the Eastern bloc collapsed, many of them lost control of his instrument, which led to an unlimited supply to areas of conflict. This tool has been very significant. Now it's doubly so.
— How has the symbolism of "Kalashnikov" in the post-Soviet era? In the 1970s, it was just, meaning some standard left-wing bravado — but you write that by the time Osama bin Laden began to pose with a rifle in his own video message, the symbolism is even more difficult.
— As soon as the rifles were distributed all over the world, they were assigned to different fighters, invest in their different meaning. The changing iconography of the rifle — this is an interesting subject for study because it indicates how behold the self and the government, and the combatants. And even more fun, because it all started with a hearty heresy. In the Kremlin's version of the "Kalashnikov" — a tool of national defense and liberation. But its first use is not associated with the defense, and the oppression of liberation movements in the Russian satellites in Europe, and later used it to fire on unarmed citizens who tried to escape from the socialist world to the West. This part of the story has been removed from the official version. So the whole legend Kalashnikov began with a series of fraudulent stories, and for the past decade, the rifle and its value have been repeatedly converted. Journalists here have something to profit. This pantheon of modern war. Saddam Hussein handed rifles, lined with gold, these were the gifts of the dictator. Bin Laden certainly was photographed with a type of rifle that was in a 1980 armed with the Russian helicopter pilots, and there rifle, almost like a scalp, denoting his military authority. (In this case, it can be overdone, since I have not beheld no credible evidence that he was ever involved in bringing down Russian helicopters.) We will see a lot of such. And for governments, and for the soldiers of the signs are of great importance, and the "Kalashnikov" can be attributed to virtually endless set of values.
— In the book, "Automatic" is a frightening story about the use of "Kalashnikovs" Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, where the longevity of the rifle in the extended criteria formidable guerrilla activity, and its ease of use is permissible to use child soldiers. As a tool of awe for nature protracted wars waged by non-professionals, who for the last 20 years, torn apart, many countries in Eastern and Central Africa? Is there any conflicts that might not have happened if not for the dissemination of "Kalashnikovs"?
— I like these questions. Let's agree to be clear: without the "Kalashnikov" of the war would have not gone away, and it would be pretty. It would be naive, even stupid, to think something else. But let us also internalize the role of "Kalashnikov": it would be naive, even stupid, to assume that the costs and consequences of many wars could be less if the Kalashnikov automatic rifles were not as extensive vserasprostraneny and easy accessible.
Several times I have heard very experienced Western men read: "Listen, AK — not very sharp instrument, and it is not very well use many of the ill-trained people leading ordinary battles with the armed forces because of its impact on the war is now less than appears. " From this point of view, improvised explosive devices or suicide bombers pose a great danger to the troops, and small gun no longer plays such a fundamental role. I deny a similar point of view, that the elevation of the 1st kind of weapon in the 2-wars mean the decline of the other. They complement each other. Realize what I mean?
I do not want to downplay the role of improvised explosive devices, which in recent years turned into the main cause of injury of Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in order to understand the war and the way it is, we need a broader view. We need to remove the rose-colored glasses the most powerful and well-equipped forces in the world, since (not counting the advantages of early "Kalashnikov" against the option of early M-16 in Vietnam) experience of Western troops clash with "Kalashnikovs" is not necessarily linked to those situations where it is instrument is in good form, or is a more powerful, at least, to determine if it is human losses. A more complete and more than a fundamental aspect of the evaluation of Kalashnikov assault rifles is not how his nick act in close combat against the current generation of Western forces in what is personal body armor, armored vehicles, advanced weapon with a telescopic sight and night vision devices, fire support and medical assistance as urgent and next. Naturally, the network maloobuchennyh militants with "Kalashnikovs" turns into unprofitable criteria in almost all encounters of this kind, because they have adapted other instruments to balance the fight. Hence, the improvised explosive device.
Let's do a more complete assessment. Human loss — is not the only aspect. The gun could have a tremendous impact, even without injuring anyone, because it limits the movement of another party, or has an impact on the plans of where and how the party can move every day. The gun can reduce the mobility of the enemy, and to increment the costs of its actions, causing it to move in the armor. The gun can change the direction and purpose of the operation — from large campaigns to patrol the many, many ways. And even that is not enough. That is one hundred percent estimate Kalashnikov necessary to evaluate its impact on the vulnerable — on civilian persons in the feeble government, government forces, such as, for example, as the Afghan police or the Uganda People's Defence Forces. Entire regions of many countries remain unaffected by their governments, as local rage connects voedinyzhdy there with Kalashnikovs, which give rise to lawlessness and provide the ability for the atrocities, rebellions, riots and human rights violations in the excellent scale. Lord's Resistance Army is an enjoyable example. It grew out of the rebel organization, which was not a lot of "Kalashnikov" and that did not existed for a long time — in fact, its predecessor was routed. Then came the Lord's Resistance Army. She acquired a Kalashnikov. Almost 25 years later, she is as before the war, and the territory in which it operates, is a social and economic ruin. Before Joseph Stallions had acquired their AK, it was a different war. And there are plenty of other examples.
— End to the era of the Kalashnikov in the foreseeable future?
— I see no such future. It was produced by an unlimited number of these rifles, and many of them have disappeared from the municipal vaults. Rifles are stored on the old warehouses remain in excellent condition, and will ensure the freshest supply in the coming decades. China as before produces and exports them to the unknown quantities. Venezuela opens new manufacturing plant. And no matter where they are — locked up in warehouses or guns used in battle — they are very durable, so read about their "moral deterioration." All this, and in addition, efforts to solve the problems of distribution of combat rifles very often can not be called brilliant — and connected. This arrangement causes virtually guarantees that we will be following this rifle and how it is commonly used in over our lives. Do they come out of the consumer? I do not beheld such forecasts. I often
find "Kalashnikov", produced back in 1950, in Afghanistan. This rifle is more than 50 years, and they are used extensively in the past. They say that these rifles us? They they say to us that the era of the Kalashnikov is still far from over.