Human civilization entered the age of modernity with two atomic blasts in the Japanese city of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. The results of the industrial revolution not only eased the lives of common people but also eased the taking lives of common people through the mechanization of wars. Similarly, AK-47s made for defending the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were not able to save the disintegration of the Soviets but were able to become the hope of the people who were suppressed, humiliated, enslaved & subjugated by the racial, colonial, and invading forces.
Necessity is the mother of inventions, and so was the AK-47
Mikhail Kalashnikov was a member of the Red Army which was formed in 1922 for defending the socialist idea of the Soviets. During World War II when he was fighting the war with Germans in the harsh winters of Siberia, many problems in weapons of the Soviet Army were reported mainly related to ‘jamming’ attributed to the severe cold.
After the war, filled with engineering skills, Kalashnikov decided to design & construct a new rifle for the Soviet military. In an effort to design the most reliable weapons which can be used in any extreme climatic conditions, he made the breakthrough in 1947 when his design was accepted and the AK-47 became the standard-issue assault rifle of the Soviet Army in 1949. In AK, A stands for Avtomat means automatic & K stands for Kalashnikov and 47 is the year of design.
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The success of the AK-47 is attributed to the simple design, fully automatic mechanics, cheap manufacturing & less or no maintenance features of the gun. In any adverse conditions, it can outperform any assault gun in the market. The gas-operated, generous clearances between the moving parts and tapered cartridge case design multiply the endurance of the gun mechanics which ultimately make this gun the people’s gun.
With only eight moving parts, easy to manufacture & easy to use made this gun so universal that a soldier, child, or a normal adult can bring calamity by firing the 650 rounds per minute with very basic training.
From Vietnam to Afghanistan
The universalisation of the AK-47 started in 1965. When the world was divided into two blocks following the Cold War between the US & USSR and war was fought on the different battlefields between the ‘same enemies’. Following which the US invaded Vietnam to bring democracy at the bayonet of a gun. The aim was to stop the spread of communism which originated from Chinese soil. Concerning the break in the spread of communism in Vietnam & other parts of the world, USSR & China decided to supply 56 models of AK to VCF (Vietnamese Communist Forces). It was the constant supply of the guns which culminated in the win of VCF & humiliated win of Americans after World War II.
In order to defend the Communist idea in the Cold War era, the mass production & supply of AK-47 was started which spread like a forest fire in African & Middle East countries. Many rebellion, guerilla or terrorist organisation used the gun to advanced their agenda.
Waking up from colonial suppression, African people used it to free themselves from centuries of enslavement, subjugation & humiliation. They made these weapons a symbol of freedom & liberty from the racial invading forces. In the struggle for independence from the “Monkeys of Europe”, Africans made the gun a torchbearer of the violent freedom struggle.
Further, the AK-47 made the powerless people empowered in front of the inhuman colonial masters. It assured them of security from these suppressive forces and inspired them so much that some countries incorporated the AK-47 into the flags of their respective countries.
Innovation is in the hands of Innovators but the use of that innovations depends on the personal consciousness & morals of the users.
When the USSR invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s, a covert & proxy war was launched by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) & ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to attack Soviet forces in the country. Equipping Al-Qaeda with Soviet-made AK-47s, the US brought the Russian forces to their knees which ultimately forced them out of Afghanistan. It was the universal availability, usability & maintainability of AK-47 that culminated in the creation of such a large force of Jihadi.
Further, the same Al-Qaeda created by the US against the USSR in Afghanistan bite the Americans in the form of the 9/11 terrorist attack in the New York City of America. The mastermind of the attack was Osama bin Laden who was ultimately killed by the USA in Abbottabad (Pakistan). But the famous picture of Osama continued to haunt the Americans, as the gun pictured in the photo was the same AK-47 that was used against the USSR to throw them out. Moreover, the same AK-47 was used against the US to force them out of Afghanistan after about 20 years of invasion.
Although the use of guns against the suppressing forces may be justified, the use of the same against innocent civilians can never be accepted. After the 1990s when Islamist terrorism started to rise across the world, the same gun AK-47 was again in the hand of these Jihadists. This again posed the question in front of humanity for its acumen to make innovation for easing the lives of common people. What was built to save the world has now become a threat to humanity. AK-47 truly changed the course of history & now black history is being written about the Jihadists using the same gun against humanity.