Sunday, November 26, 2006

Of Guns and Presidents - The Guns

NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday chose to highlight two books for its show today. One on the AK-47 and one on the lives of ex-Presidents. Both are telling as much for what is said as what is not said.


NPR interviews Larry Kahaner, the author of the book about the AK-47 assault rifle. Andrea Seabrook asks Kahaner how the AK-47 has "changed the face of modern warfare" - which seems to be his central theme. He responds by talking about "asymetric warfare" and then says of the AK-47, "...anyone can have them, anyone can own them, and that’s what’s changed warfare is that anybody can be a soldier. Now the US has the best disciplined, best trained soldiers in the world – I believe – but you can put anybody in a Toyota pickup truck and give them AK 47s and they can go out and give US soldiers a hard time.”

Seabrook doesn't bring up any of the obvious questions such as. "Doesn't the US military allow each Iraqi family to own an AK-47?" or "How many US casualties can actually be attributed to AK-47s? Aren't more deaths due to IEDs, car bombs, RPGs, and sniper rifles?"

What is most sad, is that the real victims of the ubiquitous AK-47s are usually civilians in poor countries wracked by conflict. Furthermore, the worlds largest supplier of arms to conflict zones is--guess who?--the United States. And perhaps most disturbing of all, is that there is one nation that is doing more to impede global cooperation to end small arms proliferation - again the United States! None of this comes up; it's as if Kahaner and NPR are looking in the wrong end of the telescope asking How is this one weapon harming US soldiers? and not How is US foreign policy harming all the peoples of the world including US soldiers who often face enemies armed with weapons from the US arms trade flood?

1 comment:

Porter Melmoth said...

Taking their cue from CBS' Katie-ization of the nightly news, NPR offers up Andrea Seabrook as their bid to get things properly chuckleheaded. She is TERRIBLE. Hell, I'd rather put up with 2 hours of Cokie's withered droning or Nina Totenberg's aged ingenue cutesiness.

Seabrook's handling of the AK-47 book story is, to me, mute evidence that these hosts are only going through the motions in trying to be 'journalistic' when dealing with stories they obviously aren't very interested in. It's sausage-making journalism: banal presentation rules. So many of the NPR on-air people seem such bland personalities; no wonder they can't manage to come up with trenchant, probing insights. With this gun story, Seabrook seemed to take an 'oh, ick' attitude, while the author chats merrily about his deadly subject. They both show a peculiarly American sort of detachment, and it is very 'at home' at NPR.