How War in Syria Turned Ordinary Engineers Into Deadly Weapons Inventors
July 19, 2013 7:25 PM   Subscribe

 of War. "The arms manufacturers of Aleppo used to be ordinary men—network administrators, housepainters, professors. Then came the bloody Syrian crisis. Now they must use all their desperate creativity to supply their fellow rebels with the machinery of death." [Via]
posted by homunculus (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Brown Moses on DIY weapons in Syria (more links at bottom)
posted by stbalbach at 7:49 PM on July 19, 2013

These guys are helping to start WW3. Remember yesterday's references to the end of the bronze age... this is the end of the industrial age.

The bankers and other plutocrats are destabilizing everything in the rush for the next quarter's profits.

This is all to allow us to backdoor our way into Iran, to stall the death of the Petrodollar just a bit longer.

Makers are great, if they are making to create... not to destroy.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:09 PM on July 19, 2013

This is all to allow us to backdoor our way into Iran

I wish I'd bought stock in "This is just a way for the U.S. to declare war on Iran" back in '01. I'd be a millionaire by now.
posted by Etrigan at 8:19 PM on July 19, 2013 [7 favorites]

Oh for chrissake how many American engineers, network administrators and the like are engaged in the business of making weapons of war as an ordinary, respectable 9 to 5 job? WW3 is much more likely to be a result of the creativity of regular old working class "defense" workers in California designing weapons for good pay and benefits than a bunch of desperate Syrian rebels fighting for their lives. To hell with all of them.
posted by three blind mice at 8:23 PM on July 19, 2013 [7 favorites]

The bankers and other plutocrats are destabilizing everything in the rush for the next quarter's profits.

They've been doing that since at least the Spanish-American War. And yet here we are. Yeah, I don't know how we got here, either. But war profiteering alone doesn't seem to trigger Armageddon.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:31 PM on July 19, 2013

three blind mice beat me to it. Half of California was built in service of making weapons of war.
posted by Sara C. at 10:17 PM on July 19, 2013

Brown Moses on DIY weapons in Syria (more links at bottom)

How Brown Moses exposed Syrian arms trafficking from his front room
posted by homunculus at 10:25 PM on July 19, 2013

Makes me think of Archimedes coming up with new weapons (the Claw, the Heat Ray) to defend Syracuse.
posted by Segundus at 11:32 PM on July 19, 2013

Many of us intentionally use our superpowers for good.

The switch is easily thrown in the other direction, though. Who knows what desperation can bring? Syria is not that large (22 million population). They are suffering 5000 deaths a month, according to an NPR story I heard last week. Assad and his boys aren't particularly polite, and until recently, everyone was on the same page, more or less It's not like anyone has the moral high ground except the non-combatants.

Aside from that, in peacetime, weapons projects of many sorts are interesting. The issues are challenging, the budgets large, schedules are usually ambitious. Lots of careers (including mine) had defense industry segments. When I worked for Raytheon, I used to suggest our motto should have been "We make things that kill people." (There was a major company at that time whose motto was "We make things that help people" and it seemed funny.) On the other hand, I worked making land mine removal robots for a while, and only left that outfit when they started making plans to put machine guns on one of the platforms for offensive purposes.

War stinks. It is the suspension of civilization. When immersed in it, close up, I can certainly understand going to the dark side. When you have the luxury of choice, supporting it seems counter to the goal of building a better world. Sadly, a lot of our toys have their origins in efforts which had a major defense impetus (spread spectrum phones, GPS, weather satellites, remote observation, space exploration, materials, microelectronics, microwaves (including ovens), yada yada.)
posted by FauxScot at 12:37 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

My four best friends at school were all Labbies, sons or daughters of fathers who worked in the weapon labs of the Bay Area, Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley, Sandia. One girl's dad spent his life working on MIRVs: splitting up the warheads of nuclear missiles so that one ICBM could drop nuclear bombs on dozens of cities across Russia or Central Asia, incinerating more human beings more efficiently. He was a really nice guy, very empathetic and fun, and his wife was kind of a hippie; raised four kids, all of them artists. Contradictions, cognitive dissonance.

These guys profiled in this article are, as the writer states, people who would otherwise be network administrators, things like that. But they are murderers now, and of the worst kind: they kill at random for a cause of uncertain value. The Syrian 'rebels' have allowed their struggle to turn into something disgusting and repellent; but that is the way all wars end up.

There is some great reporting here, but the problem is the depthlessness of the thesis.
posted by A Fine Mess at 9:33 AM on July 20, 2013

A Fine Mess (indeed) - what do you want here? War is hell - we know that, and should teach our sons that, but it's so much an established fact as to be trite and largely outside the scope of reportage.
What I find surprising is the emphasis on explosives - if I felt my family was facing an existential threat I wouldn't be taking apart unexploded bombs, I'd be making much more potent (and more universally illegal) weapons to use on the perceived enemy, because in the end what counts isn't who is right or who acts legally but whose children are still alive. What deeper thesis is there?
posted by memetoclast at 10:41 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

His creations, like the great pyramids, are only graves. They could have grown bread and olives with that fertilizer, but instead they've grown thrones and nettles. Where is the freedom they sought to harvest? When the great maker judges him at the end, surely no paradise will be granted.
posted by humanfont at 10:45 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

a younger rebel waits next to an 8-foot-high metal stand shaped like a Y with a loop of thick elastic dangling from it. This, I realize, is a giant slingshot. The attendant rebel, thickset with a fan-shaped beard and close-shaved mustache, introduces himself as Abu Zakaria. He hefts a grenade from one of the shopping bags that another rebel has carried up. “Angry Birds,” he says in English, laughing and jerking a thumb toward the slingshot.
Modern Warfare 5...
posted by anthill at 4:40 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw plenty of home-made weapons in the Sarajevo Historical museum. It's possible to improvise all sorts of things if the situation calls for it.

I am frankly as interested if not more so, in survival methods, how to garden indoors for example, something Bosnians did a lot of during the war.

How to handle medical care of sick and wounded persons, because the thing about war is in a circumstance like Syria or Bosnia, the war is there right next to daily life.

I also am very curious to know how the Bedouin people are copeing, how they are affected.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:53 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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