Saturday, May 06, 2006

Just how dumb do you think people are? Never mind.

From Unqualified Offerings comes an unbelievable story. It seems that an English non-profit - Good Gifts - has decided to rid the world of weapons - by turning them into plowshares:
The devastating civil war in Sierra Leone that depleted the country of tools and work, is now providing ample raw material for recovery: weapons. Guns and tanks that destroyed the country are now re-building it. Destroyed, harmless weapons are a lucrative source of metal for much-needed farm tools. The weapons are disabled by the UN Peace Keeping Force. This usually involves destroyng the firing mechanism. They are then handed over to MAPCO (the Malen Producers co-operative) who cut them up ready for forging into new tools.

A destroyed Kalashnikov, bought by a Good Giver, will provide enterprising blacksmiths and metal workers with employment, converting them into farming tools such as hoes, cutlasses and axe heads. 200 items can be produced from a destroyed rifle. From one rocket launcher approximately 300-500 blacksmith items can be produced and the heavy heavyweight champ, a tank (or heavy duty 16 wheeler) will provide a year's work for 5 blacksmiths turning it in into 3000 items vital to equip a farming village of 100. The tools are given to local farmers who are initiating new agricultural projects, farming barren land and providing fresh food and a fresh start for the community.

APT is a UK registered charity that works in partnership with MAPCO in Sierra Leone to help rural communities to re-build their livelihoods following the civil war. They provide people with tools and teach them the skills necessary to set up a variety of enterprises. The training of blacksmiths is a major part of the programme that includes carpentry, masonry and agriculture. Blacksmiths are provided with metal from destroyed weapons and vehicles. The fruits of their labour are ploughed into the local farming communities providing them with the tools needed to re-cultivate the land.
Golly, where to start?

I posted the following comment on the Unqualified Offerings site.
Wait a minute! Let me understand this:

1) I send cash to a Third World country that has been having a war, in the expectation that they will ”do the right thing” and turn over military weapons to be dismantled - in fact, turned into the ”plowshares” of Biblical text.

2) I won’t get the plowshare, or any hard evidence that the weapon was taken apart. I just have to trust them.

3) But wait! I needn’t take it on trust that the program is happening just as written.

”The weapons are disabled by the UN Peace Keeping Force. This usually involves destroyng the firing mechanism. They are then handed over to MAPCO (the Malen Producers co-operative) who cut them up ready for forging into new tools.”

Oh, well. The UN is involved. I guess that’s the imprimatur I was looking for.

Who could distrust the UN?
I've had time to think about other facets of the program.

  • The UN only guarantees that the firing mechanism is disabled? Well, that seems sufficient - you know that no one is going to be able to find replacement parts and re-enable it.
  • It's really not spelled out just who gets the cash. It reminds me of those "buy-back" programs that encourage young lads to steal the old family pistol (or a neighbor's) and turn it in, thereby getting a legal substitute for the stolen merchandise. Not to mention that, as a side benefit, they disarm future victims.
  • In the buy-back programs, old, rusted, broken guns got the reward just the same. Might one be overly suspicious to wonder whether the temporarily truced use this program as a way of unloading broken or damaged tanks and weapons, and getting the cash to buy new ones?
  • Celebrities are on board. They are British, so I have absolutely no idea who most of them are, but Glenda Jackson and Twiggy love the program. That should set everyone's mind at ease.


Tags = Stupid People

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