TTAG commentator Dyspeptic Gunsmith writes:
From talking to a couple dozen combat vets of Iraq and Afghanistan, I think it is a highly dubious proposition that armed civilians in the Islamic world will fight off terrorists and thugs. In Central and South America, I don’t think that the people would maintain any sort of freedom if you could wave a magic wand and make the cartels disappear overnight. Look at what people vote for – just look at Venezuela for an example. Here’s an example of how mere guns don’t magically result in liberty . . .
In Afghanistan, most households have at least one AK in their possession. Oftentimes, they had more than on AK. Ammo was plentiful enough that every household had at least a hundred rounds ready to go.
The Taliban were thugs, I was told by our vets. Sure, they had their religion angle to them, but at their core, they’re straight-up thugs. A couple/three Talibunnies would come into villages of 200 to 500 people and terrorize them, sometimes raping the single women, stealing from farmers and merchants, and telling the people what to do, burning books, telling women what to wear, not to leave the house, etc.
The USA or Marines would get a call from the village elders “please help us solve this problem.” The US forces would show up for a week or two, the Talibunnies would leave town in the middle of the night, and the village would enjoy a respite. As soon as the US forces would leave, the Talibunnies would slip back in.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
I asked the young men who had been there “So… every household has an AK, you said?”
“And you say there’s only a couple/three of these Taliban thugs who show up, right?”
“Riiiight…” the veteran would say, smiling – because he knew where this is going, and he was going to enjoy delivering the hard truth.
“So… Why don’t the villages just up and whack the Taliban in the middle of the night, dispose of the bodies and the evidence, then resume their lives?”
The vet would now be laughing. “Because… they’re Muslims. ‘In’shalla’ is their way of saying ‘mañana’ – only without the hurry. Because it would require doing work. Because it would require initiative. Remember, these people have continued to crap in the street in broad daylight, suffer water-borne diseases every day, losing children due to bad water as a result of fecal matter in their water supply… because they lack the initiative to dig a pit toilet.
“You’re expecting people who refuse to dig a hole in the ground and use it to suddenly grow a spine? C’mon, man. You’re being as silly an idealist as those neo-cons who think that Jeffersonian Democracy is going to spring up in the Islamic world just because we killed some dictator.”
More people in the US should talk to our veterans about these big picture issues. It’s eye-opening. It will also make you want to beat the crap out of any politician or policy wonk who utters the term “nation-building” ever again.
From now on, our military forces should be given only one task in the field: kill people and break stuff, then come home. Leave the high-minded idealistic BS to the Canadians or some other bunch of preening solipsists. “Nation building” is the human equivalent of cleaning the biggest cow barn in the universe, and you really want to kill all the cows so they never crap on your floor again, but people keep telling you that you must be nice to the stupid cows.
The fundamental error in assuming that simply giving people arms will lead to a flowering of liberty is this: liberty isn’t just a bunch of words on a piece of paper, or people ambling around with guns. It’s a mindset, an epistemology and ontology combined. If a culture lacks these philosophical underpinnings, I don’t care how many guns you give them, you won’t see liberty and freedom flower.
If you’re operating in a society that believes your government and religion go hand-in-hand, or in a society that still suffers the delusion of the “divine right of kings,” then those issues need to be solved first.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again until it sinks in: the ideas of liberty and freedom that are the basis for the US Constitution and our liberties are the result of the mindset and philosophy of white protestant men of the 17th and 18th century, in particular coming out of the Scottish Enlightenment.
These ideas are also the result of only white protestant men. No other culture has repeated this – none. All other cultures who try to even imitate it cannot get it right, because they don’t believe their rights and liberties are inherent in their own existence. They all start from a basis of “Well, the government says I can…so we’ll make sure the government allows this.” Of course, that doesn’t last for long.
The two cultures referenced above don’t even believe in religious tolerance. Muslims certainly don’t, and Catholics only pretend to do so, and they’re used to their religions being the basis for political power, either explicitly or implicitly. Giving them guns might get rid of today’s problem, but tomorrow there will be another problem just like the one you’re looking at today – because their societies will give up their guns just as soon as today’s problem is ‘solved.’