A Scourge of Small Arms
May 31, 2000 6:45 PM   Subscribe

A Scourge of Small Arms "The root causes of ethnic, religious and sectarian conflicts around the world are of course complex and varied, typically involving historical grievances, economic deprivation, demagogic leadership and an absence of democratic process. Although small arms and light weapons are not themselves a cause of conflict, their ready accessibility and low cost can prolong combat, encourage a violent rather than a peaceful resolution of differences, and generate greater insecurity throughout society--which in turn leads to a spiraling demand for, and use of, such weapons."
posted by Calebos (7 comments total)
In the days just before Alexander the great, a mercenary army consisting of ten thousand men managed to fight its way past the entirety of the Persian Army (perhaps more than 500,000 men strong) as well as several local militia. Led by Xenophon, this army of mercenaries pointed out two truths. One was that the Persian Empire was ripe for conquest. The other was that a small professional army is always capable of toppling governments and wreaking untold havoc. The Phalanx then was a far more effective weapon than small arms are now.

Don't get me wrong. I'm hardly pro-gun proliferation. I just don't agree with this article.
posted by Ezrael at 8:09 PM on May 31, 2000

Since the article didn't mention a phalanx tactic, what else about the facts and conditions as stated do you actually disagree with Ez? Seems clear to me. -- G.
posted by goodhelp at 9:37 PM on May 31, 2000

Basically that the proliferation of small arms has changed anything. War has always been this way. Small packs of adventurers and condottiere have always been able to keep things in a state of ferment. Look at India in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.

I think that small arms just make it more the way it has been, that's all. The reaction may be more intense, but not especially any different. That's all I'm saying.
posted by Ezrael at 9:55 PM on May 31, 2000

That article is excellent.

It's the same in Northern Ireland at the moment - one side of politicians (the Unionist / pro-British side) are very wary of the Republican side (pro-Irish) because the Republicans won't decommission their weapons.
This issue brought down the new Assembly there. But now the main Republican group, the Provisonal IRA have agreed to have their arms dumps inspected.

If it wasn't for weapons like AK-47's, the whole mess wouldn't have gone for 30 years...
Most of the weapons come from Russia and the mid-Easy (Libya). Also, some gullible Irish-Americans and some no so gullible Irish-Americans have also donated arms cash...
posted by tomcosgrave at 2:13 AM on June 1, 2000

The article is a great 2nd Amendment article......the 'military/police/state' had the guns, and the unarmed people got slaughtered. I gotta agree with Ezrael.....guns make war a bit easier, but to think that the absence of guns will make war and violence go away is pure utopian idealism bullsh*t.
posted by webwide at 4:59 AM on June 1, 2000

I don't think you can compare the 'military/police/state' in the US to those in the countries mentionned in this article. In the western world, protection from the government is not a valid justification for having a right to own a firearm.

No one here is suggesting that guns are the root of all violence, BTW.
posted by Calebos at 6:07 AM on June 1, 2000

No, no, I didn't think you were, Calebos.

I'm just being somewhat cynical about mankind and our history. Considering that Ireland and England have, for all intents and purposes, been at war for nearly fifteen hundred years now (You raided us in the 500's! Well, you raided us in the 1200's! You resorted to guerilla tactics!
Well, you had mounted knights!) I get suspicious whenever anyone talks about it ending. I get suspicious when people talk about Africa as if this hasn't been going on there since Roman times. I get suspicious when people talk about Asian guerilla war as if the Khmer don't date back to the 1400's.

In general, I'm suspicious and cynical. But I didn't think you were suggesting that, Calebos, honestly. My beef is with the well-written, thought-provoking, and ultimately incorrect article.
posted by Ezrael at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2000

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