Global Trend #2: Proliferation, Great and Small
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  • Stephen

    “Proliferation is about more than just weapons of mass destruction. Small arms and small conflicts can be almost as devastating over the long haul.”

    Quite right. And for that you can thank the Soviets and their satellites above all others. Lee-Enfields are superb rifles, sportsterized they make fine hunting rifles, but far and away the most numerous are AK’s, SKS’s and their variants – just as durable and more effective for their purpose. Find an armed militant group and more than 90% of the time they’ll be carrying AK’s – the world is awash in this one example of Soviet industrial and marketing success.

  • Anthony

    WRM, your piece on South Sudan illustrates environment where money, weapon availability, rogue actors, and inclination coalesce to further proliferation of weapons globally; such factors globally inure towards proliferation remaining important issue in 21st century (asymmetrical warfare and weapon availability adds to its allure).

  • a nissen

    I knew there is a reason I keep reading this blog! So sad though to find you closing on a whimper. The case you make deserves far more application of thought than a whimper.

  • Jim.

    So, I’m confused. Is Iran still six months away from getting the bomb, like they were in what, 2008?

  • Kris

    [email protected], there is absolutely no need to worry, cf NIE 2007.

    Regarding Pakistan’s nukes, they’re obviously more worried about the US confiscating them than about losing them to unsavory organizations (well, less savory). It is up to the US to get Pakistan to re-assess the cost of the second eventuality.

  • Walter Sobchak

    “Obama made the global elimination of nuclear weapons a big campaign issue”

    Nuclear weapons cannot be eliminated, not as long as physics and mathematics are known. If all the world’s nuclear powers got together and buried all of their nuclear weapons in the bottom of the Marianas Trench, the next day some lunatic tyrant like Kim Jong the 42nd could announce that he has built a nuclear weapon, and we are right back at square one.

    Forget it. We have eaten of the tree of knowledge, and there is no return to gan eden.

  • f1b0nacc1

    Regarding the comment you made on the SAMs that went missing in Libya:

    “While in many cases these pose no serious threat to a modern fighter jet, they could easily bring down a passenger airliner”

    Actually, these shoulder-fired weapons are (for the most part) reasonably ineffective against most modern airliners. The SAMs are heat-seekers, and thus (in the overwhelming majority of cases) target the rear of the engines, which are hottest. Since the engines on most modern airliners are quite large (often larger and more robust than many modern fighters), it is unlikely that a shoulder-fired SAM would do much more than damage one of these engines. This is not a trivial matter (it would certainly force an emergency landing, and could conceivably create conditions for a much worse accident), it is unlikely that these weapons would do much more than damage the airliner without a loss of life.

    Most shoulder-fired SAMs are designed for use against helicopters, not against aircraft. They can be (and certainly are) used against aircraft, but they have been largely ineffective in this role. Smaller, older air transports have been shot down (this has happened most frequently in Africa, which has acted as a dumping ground for obsolete transports), but large modern airliners are not likely to be destroyed by these weapons.

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