Guns vs. Nukes: The Inside Story With Mikhail Kalashnikov

In 1991, I interviewed Mikhail Kalashnikov on the topic of Soviet weapons and tactics. Mikhail is the creator of the infamous AK47 assualt rifle, and until his death was instrumental in Sovient small arms manufacture and military doctrine. He served as a Russian tank commander, and saw combat first hand. I asked Mikhail why he made the AK47 the way he did, and his answer was that “on the battlefield, a weapon can be dragged through the dirt, run over, and still needs to fire. I designed the AK47 so that their would be a crate filled with replacements if yours broke, and yours would never break.” His design reflects the values of the Soviet production system and nuclear doctrine.Russian war materiel is designed for mass production in factories, to quickly produce as much as possible. This can be seen in the spread of Soveit nuclear weapons all over the world. When questioned about the morality of such a massive stockpile, he stated that it was “absolutely vital” to the stability of the USSR. When further asked about the reprocussions of nuclear strikes, he said that “The U.S. had them too, they started the nuclear contest, and we (the USSR) will never let such capitalist dogs posses greater capability than we.” It was clear that Mikhail had some farily fundemental ideaologies, so decided to talk about going forward with military production.
Mikhail told me that his business was guns, and that “of course I want firearms manufacturing through the roof! But nukes are bad for business.” He believes that the Russian nuclear arsenal is a necessity, but the Soviets would never have “started this war.” He says that they never instigated any aggresion, despite pointed questions about the Soviet actions in Cuba, Afghanistan, and Chechnya. However, he believes that the world would be better off without nukes, and would allow more resources to supply the conventional military. Call it war mongering or peace loving, his stance is different. Skewed? yes Crazy? perhaps. But Mikhail and I both agree that an ideal world is one with no nukes at all.
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