Blue & gold

“Javelins” and “Stingers” are among my favourite hand-held weapons, or “man-portable, fire-and-forget” as they say in the (sexist) military literature. Costing very little, in comparison to the weapons they negate, I don’t think even the present inflation will put them at a serious disadvantage.

A javelin will take out a tank, supply truck, or armoured personnel carrier; a stinger will bring down a helicopter or jet. Equipped with infra-red guidance, these wonderful inventions need only to be approximately aimed. Once fired, they seek out what ought not to be there — all by themselves — leaving the trooper at leisure to reload, and select his next target.

The AK-47, or Automat Kalashnikov, is a gas-powered, rotating-bolt “assault rifle.” Popular among gun users and enthusiasts everywhere, it is very convenient for reducing the number of invading soldiers, once they have stepped out of their shelters. The “47” indicates when Mr Kalashnikov’s weapon was introduced — seventy-five years of reliable service.

Gentle reader may study the design of these weapons in greater detail elsewhere — these Essays in Idleness¬†were never meant as a source of technical information.

But as I once mentioned in this space, we are apt to neglect the joy of battle, when writing our (often scarcely readable) sad-sack memoirs. Blowing up nasty enemies can be fun, and there is the camaraderie of the trenches.

To be grimly practical for a moment, the reason I promote these weapons, despite my reservations about modern technology, is that each is, as we say of a handgun, “the great equalizer.” Not every one, not even every country, can afford supersonic jets and intercontinental missiles and aircraft carriers and the like. But all of these assets can be converted to scrap metal, by putting holes in them.

Although I was a fan of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I think it is no longer much use in deterrence. The Russians do not appear to be afraid of it any more, and yet, the Russian armed forces still need to be destroyed.

“Small is beautiful,” as I like say. Let us pray the noble Ukrainians can show the ex-Soviets a thing or two — especially, how to cease from existing.