Mikahil Kalashnikov, 1919-2013
Comments on the life of Kalashnikov:
When confronted, innumerable times, by air-headed Western journalists (is
there another kind?) with regard to his AK-47 rifle and it ubiquity,
Kalashnikov always replied with some variation of:
"I sleep well. It's politicians who are to blame for failing to come to
agreement and resorting to violence."
In context, Kalashnikov was a patriot, who did his country a significant
service by recognizing a gap in its war-fighting toolkit during the aftermath
of WWII's infamous Eastern Front. Wars are fought by brave men, and those
standing next to them, sweating, or freezing, but universally terrified.
War is "glamourous" and "splendid" only to historians, politicians, and
others who weren't there. Such clever commentary is usually created by
comfortable authors who have never had the experience of crapping in their pants
while huddling alone in a cold, smelly, muddy ditch, at night, in the
rain, with somebody out there trying to kill them. Those of us who have had
this defecating experience usually prefer toilet paper, clean shorts, and a
reliable rifle (with lots of ammunition), to clever phrases!
War is truly, "diplomacy by other means," as Carl von Clausewitz taught
A war-fighter"s rifle is the most critical of all his tools. It keeps him
alive and keeps his homeland safe. It enables him to be actively
functional to those ends. All specifications for durability, cost-effectiveness,
reliability, ease of operation/maintenance, and accuracy are subordinate
to, and in service of, those imperatives.
Even though some people do bad things, just as some soldiers do, Mikhail
Kalashnikov did many people, good people like you and me, soldiers and
civilians alike, a monumental favor by providing us with this wonderful piece of
equipment, this exquisite kit that we, as free citizens, as police
officers, and as soldiers, can use to dissuade some of the evil that infests this
If there were no need, Mikhail Kalashnikov, along with Eugene Stoner, would
have brought their creative genius into the realm of kitchen-equipment
design, and we would all probably be eating well for it, assuming any of us
would still be alive!
In the final analysis, Kalashnikov was working for the benefit of his
comrades. As a wounded soldier, he knew what soldiers (and other good people)
need when the enemy is upon them. And, irrespective of context, most
imperiled people are just trying to survive in an environment they didn't make,
with any effective tool they can lay their hands on, the average Russian,
Swiss, American, or Pakistani!
Kalashnikov eloquently and courageously filled a critical need of just
plain people, not politicians, nor dictators, nor historians, nor philosophers!
When the enemy is upon you, titles and status will count for nothing!
When you're staring death in the face, all you want, and the only thing you
want in your hands, is a good rifle!
Thank God we can still get our hands on them!
Rest in peace, old Comrade. Rest in peace!
John S. Farnam