Australia, along with France, Germany, Italy, Britain is sending arms to brave Kurds to help them fight ISIS. The accompanying rhetoric uttered by Abbott and other vacuous blowhards and petty nonentities who love to get their heads on camera in even a phony war uses the high-sounding noble cause of humanitarianism rather than the more accurate self interest in securing Western oil supplies. Abbott embarrassingly always adds the completely unnecessary rider that we don’t know what America wants from us but when it does decide, whatever it wants it can have. We are making ourselves useful. Not just standing there scratching our heads because no one has really given us a job to do. Because no-one really knows what to do. OK we’ll be gunrunners in the meantime. Great photo opportunities of Kurdish women in camouflage gear opening parcels of weapons from Australia, the ones that didn’t fall in the next village. Now let’s round up some guns we are not really using.
Given the nature of the weapons we are supplying, Australia’s humanitarian spin is even more difficult to accept. The weapons we are sending according to Australian media reports are AK 47s. Now the AK 47 is still a useful weapon – if you have no weapon at all. Or if you are a museum. But against the sophisticated weapons that ISIS possesses make you wonder whose side Australia is on.
The AK 47 is over 60 years old. In contrast to the M16 – and other weapons used nowadays it is inferior in range, precision, firing speed and it is a good kilogram heavier than modern equivalents. Given that forces constitute both female and male soldiers, the weight is an issue. So, too is the range. An ISIS soldier with even an M16 will have over a hundred metres better range. The AK 47 is slower to load and has the capacity to catch fire if used on protracted automatic fire setting.
In brief, a few plane loads of AK 47s are a curious sort of gift from the Australian government to those whom it clearly expects to take the fight up to well-equipped ISIS forces. Of course, it may be clever thinking by some Australian military types to donate weapons that are unlikely to be of use if captured. Weapons that would have a very low resale value on the black market. But providing inferior outmoded weapons, makes our humanitarian gesture seem less noble and more like a type of sabotage. It’s a bit like giving a Christmas present out of obligation to a distant relative you can’t abide. It is as if some official determined on a bit of tidy-up opened an armoury in some obscure barracks in a remote part of Australia found a cache of AK 47s from 1948 he or she wanted to dispose of. You can’t take them to the tip. Destruction costs money. Brainwave! We’ll airmail them to the Peshmerga and other Kurds.
And it is a gift that will go on giving. Having done so much already to make himself and his nation figures of fun, our self-parodying PM has unerringly acted once again in a manner which is guaranteed to have other nations laughing. Or snorting with derision.
Now the forces we are dumping our junk on are currently opening a lot of gun gift parcels. Other countries are donating more modern weapons. Weapons that don’t give you enemy an instant advantage. Weapons that are not an inherent liability.
Perhaps the thinking is that Australia’s effort will stand out. In a stroke of genius, a bureaucrat has arranged a gift that is so unlike any other relief parcel that the recipients won’t feel spoiled. They will see the museum piece for what it is and feel a warm glow of gratitude knowing that the Aussies did not want to spoil them. No. Australians want to build their moral fibre. As former Prime Minister Malcom Fraser would have said killing your enemy is not to be easily accomplished, something you take for granted. Look at Gallipoli. Death wasn’t meant to be easy.