Friday, May 2, 2008

New Idea for a Running Topic

I know a fair bit about guns + I know a fair bit about International Relation = combine the two.

I'm going to analyze trends in the world arms market or pictures from the news and take a guess at any clues they may be revealing

To start it out - I have an antique British rifle from the Second World War, it fires a rather rare, often expensive bullet called a .303. Recently there has been a veritable flood of surplus .303 rounds coming out of Pakistan. Pakistan picked up a bunch of the same type of rifle I have after the Second World War and still issues them to their reserve troops in case things ever get really bad against India.

The fact that Pakistan is willing to sell off their last line of defense for western cash only has 3 possible explanations; 1. They're feeling confident they won't fight an all-out war with India, 2. They've got better, newer weapons or 3. They really really want western cash. I'm putting my money on option number 1 - I think the Pakistanis have made this move because they're feeling confident that an all out war with India (where reservists armed with these old guns would fight) is not going to happen any time soon.


Tim said...

Is there any way they could have just picked up better weapons, perhaps offset by the profits from selling the expensive .303 cartridges?

City Upon The Hill said...

Yes and No.

Basically, the value of these guns to Pakistan is determined totally by the probability of war with India.

The Pakistani Ordinance Factory (National Arms Supplier for Pakistan) has been making better guns for a while now, front line Pakistani units are all equipped with better weapons (namely, Pakistani copies of the German G-3 and imported AKs). They keep these old British guns around just in case or give them militias. If the decision to replace these weapons with something better had been taken the .303s would have been phased out at the rate the could have been replaced. Instead they were just dumped at the same time.

The cost of keeping these weapons around would have been very very little and they're not making much money off selling them - there is little economic incentive to get rid of them, certainly, no more economic incentive than there was 5 years ago. What has changed is that the value of having these guns around (the chances of an all0out conventional war with India) has decreased to the point where the tiny amount of money gained/saved by getting rid of them now outweighs their benefit because was is so unlikely.

Its possible that they picked up an ass-load of new weapons but the timing (why didn't they do that 15 years ago? they had the money then) and the manner (a sudden, total transition) make it unlikely.