Here’s an interesting bit of firearms history in the making: The Russian military is, after many, many decades, looking to replace their various Kalishnikov-pattern rifles. The latest of these is the AK-74, which is their current service rifle. Excerpt:
The Soviet army was equipped with AK-74s in the mid-1970s. Even at that time, some experts grumbled that the army had chosen far from the best option – to please the renowned Izhmash.
At any rate, the AK-74 proved to be a sound rifle. Now, 40 years later, the domestic arms industry is trying to obviate the major design drawback of all Kalashnikov modifications – when the rifle is fired, its action moves sharply, which shifts the rifle from the line-of-sight and decreases fire accuracy.
Izhmash made an attempt to design a rifle with a “balanced” automatic recoil system. It presented the AN-94, designed by Gennady Nikonov since the late 1970s and advertised in the 1990s as an innovation rifle to replace the legendary AK.
However, trials, including those during military operations in Chechnya, clearly revealed its weaknesses and strengths. True, the AN-94 is a good, accurate rifle for a well-trained sniper, but it is expensive, difficult to service, and wayward.
It has nothing in common with the AK-74 and AKM, which are cheap and simple rifles for massive armies. Even dragged through dirt, they will still fire without any jams or failures. Combat and testing practice shows that the AN-94 can be used by special units with some reservations, but is not suitable for regular motorized infantry troops. It does not even have a new professional look.
It’s an inevitable event, I suppose. I served in the Army in the bad old days, when the Bad Guys we trained against was inevitably the AK-armed Soviet soldier. Times have changed, and while recent events in Russia are not really encouraging, at least that old Cold War paradigm is done; and, now, apparently the Kalishnikov-pattern rifle is gone with it, at least as far as the Russian army is concerned.
Never fear, though; there will be many, many Third World countries making and using these weapons probably for the next century. The AK series has many virtues for peasant armies; they are rugged, low-maintenance, easy to make and repair. They are notoriously inaccurate but can put a lot of lead in the air in a hurry.
Here’s some more on Herman Cain, this time from The Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost: Why Herman Cain Could Be A Game-Changer. Let’s be honest; the game needs changing. Excerpt:
Earlier this week, Herman Cain asserted that he could win about a third of the black vote. Is this possible? And if so, what would it mean, for Republicans as well as African Americans?
The consequences of just a ten-point swing among African Americans would be enormous for the Grand Old Party. If George W. Bush had won 20 percent of the black vote in 2000 and 2004, he would have beaten Al Gore by almost a point and a half (instead of losing by half a point) and defeated John Kerry by 4 points (instead of his two-point victory). If McCain had done this well among African Americans, Obama’s 7-point victory would have been cut almost in half.
The problem is that Republican political leaders don’t really care very much about this. Since the Democratic party swung wildly to the left in the 1960s, the GOP establishment has figured out that it can win national majorities almost entirely with the white vote. Same with Senate majorities and, thanks to the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act (which mandated the creation of minority-majority districts), House majorities. Thus, the Republican party leadership does not make a serious play for the black vote, which is a big reason why states like Illinois and New York are no longer up for grabs.
The absence of GOP competition for the black vote has allowed the left wing to demagogue the Republican party in the most negative of terms within the black community, without much of a GOP response. Take for instance that comment from Melissa Harris-Perry that I discussed Wednesday, about how the Republican party is not the “party of civil rights.” It is asserted far and wide that the GOP represents little more than the crudest, most reflexive form of Goldwaterism. It’s just not true, so where is the Republican pushback? If Democrats tried to slander the GOP among, say, Catholic voters, you’d see the Republican establishment move heaven and earth to counter such a scurrilous charge. But because the black vote is not up for grabs, this kind of blatant falsehood ends up going unchallenged.
While this kind of political calculation is common in political campaigns, none of these reasons are my reasons for liking Herman Cain; I stated those reasons only yesterday. I like Herman Cain for his positions on most issues. But I’m also in favor of breaking political paradigms. The Democrats have had a lock on the black vote for decades, and I’m at a loss to see why. Maybe this will, indeed, be a game-changer, and in more than just this one election.
While this discussion is going on, Herman Cain and (a bit of a surprise, here) Newt Gingrich are moving upwards in polling. None of this matters until the primaries start, but it’s interesting. Could Newt be making something of a political comeback after all this time? I’m skeptical, especially given the GOPs tendency to eat their fallen, but in politics all sorts of odd things are possible.
Stay tuned, True Believers; Gingermageddon is not over yet.