Time for switch to Kalashnikovs
Under the Arms Export Control Act of the United States, the president has the authority to control the import and export of defense articles and services. This authority has actually been delegated to the state secretary. The US Congress upon notification by the State Department about a proposed sale to a foreign nation can upon review, block or modify such arms sale at any time up to the point of delivery of the items involved.
Last week, expressing “concern over human rights violations” in the Philippines, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, announced that he would oppose the sale of 27,000 M-4 assault rifles to the Philippine National Police. Considering that this is a Democratic administration, it is likely that his views will carry much weight when a final decision is reached on the sale. The proposed transaction actually started during the Aquino administration and was carried over into the present police leadership that has been in the forefront of the bloody war on drugs.
In opposing the sale, Senator Cardin has, in effect told us, “your behavior has been terrible. Unless you change your ways, we are not selling you any more made-in-the-USA goodies.”
Our great friend and staunch ally has faulted us for alleged human rights violations, citing the growing number of extrajudicial killings that have been reported in the media.
Let us accept that there have been numerous extrajudicial killings in the country. We must exert greater efforts to put a stop to these incidents, as well as bringing to justice those involved. Let us also take a look at how the United States treats its other allies who are accused of violating international norms of conduct as regards human rights.
Israel continues to build new settlements in disputed territories belonging to Palestinians in the face of United Nations’ resolutions calling for a halt to these activities. The resettlement work is a violation of the rights of Palestinians, and serves as a stumbling block to any possible peace negotiations. Israel remains the largest beneficiary of foreign aid from the United States.
Check with Amnesty International or other similar organizations on the human rights record of Egypt and its armed forces. You will find the situation to be one of the most oppressive in the region, with thousands of victims dead, missing or held in prison under the most difficult circumstances. Egypt continues to be the second-largest beneficiary of foreign aid from the United States.
President Duterte has declared a war on drugs in an effort to correct a situation that was long neglected by his predecessors. It is a situation which, if not seriously addressed, would result in thousands of our people becoming victims of addiction, or victims of drug-related criminal activities.
There are no easy, clear-cut solutions. If we rely completely on our criminal justice system, observing international legal standards, we will get nowhere; and the narco-politicians running the drug trade as well as some of our local governments will grow in power and influence. And soon we could turn into some kind of a narco-state with warring drug cartels killing people with impunity, and a helpless government unable to do anything. In Mexico, 48 young students held by drug lords disappeared and have never been found. It has been reported that their bodies were burned to conceal the disappearance.
The United States refuses to sell us M-4 assault rifles. Well and good! Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa should not whine or moan, or remain hopeful, over the aborted sale. This turn of events represents a golden opportunity to get rid of our addiction to and dependence on US weaponry.
Consider this. First, there are a number of other sources of guns, perhaps even cheaper, perhaps even more reliable and effective. And don’t let anyone tell us of the difficulties of adjusting to new weapons.
Second, we should now encourage our local gun manufacturers to see what can be done in-country. These efforts will not bear fruit overnight, but we must start to explore all possibilities, including joint ventures.
One of the iconic images to come out of the Vietnam War is that of a Vietcong guerrilla clad in black pajamas, wearing rubber sandals, and cradling an AK-47 assault rifle. This is the soldier who defeated the best America had to offer—bombers, helicopters, tanks, and the M-16 assault rifle. The Vietnamese won the war not only because their fighters had dedication, courage and a strong sense of nationhood, but also because they carried into battle one of the most effective assault rifles the world has ever known.
The AK-47 or Kalashnikov stands for “Automatic by Kalashnikov.” It was first manufactured in 1947; hence, the number. The weapon has since undergone many improvements, but the basics remain the same.
Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov was a young Russian tank commander who was wounded in combat when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. While recuperating in the hospital, he heard complaints from other wounded soldiers about the inferior quality of their arms compared with that of the Germans. He proceeded to design a submachine gun that became known as the AK-47. It had durability, low production cost, low maintenance requirements and, above all, simplicity of operation. It was so easy to use; child soldiers who were forcibly recruited
into the service of various military groups in Africa, had no problem with the AK-47.
General Kalashnikov died at the age of 94. President Vladimir Putin praised him as “a symbol of the creative genius of our people.”
There will be endless debates over which rifle is best suited for our needs. The Americans will sing praises to the M-4, while the Russians and the Chinese who also manufacture the same weapon, will bat for the AK-47. By the way, we are paying for these arms. Since the Americans have decided that our human rights record makes us undeserving of their weapons, let us now turn to other sources and by doing so, we preserve our national dignity and pride.
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