18 October 2007

High Technology Equipment for Low Technology Countries

Third world countries often attempt to buy their way into first world credibility through advanced weaponry. Given the well-known perennial lack of maintenance in third world countries, this sort of accident should not be surprising.
The South African National Defence Force "is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday."

SA National Defence Force spokesman brigadier general Kwena Mangope says the cause of the malfunction is not yet known...

Media reports say the shooting exercise, using live ammunition, took place at the SA Army's Combat Training Centre, at Lohatlha, in the Northern Cape, as part of an annual force preparation endeavour.

Mangope told The Star that it “is assumed that there was a mechanical problem, which led to the accident. The gun, which was fully loaded, did not fire as it normally should have," he said. "It appears as though the gun, which is computerised, jammed before there was some sort of explosion, and then it opened fire uncontrollably, killing and injuring the soldiers."
Wired

High tech weapons and low tech culture makes for a dangerous combination. Yet, so many third world leaders feel they will have more world-class clout if they possess the most sophisticated and powerful weapons available. It is a "cargo-cult" psychology that will only lead to more tragedy.

The same neglect of maintenance is seen in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The first world can supply many third world nations with the most sophisticated infrastructure for health care, agriculture, transportation, and other means to modern living--but if the machines simply break down for lack of maintenance, what is the use?

Part of the problem is a near-universal aversion to hard and dirty work, even in the third world. Part of the problem is the lack of knowledge skills needed to understand maintenance manuals and proper maintenance procedures. And a large part of the problem is allocation of funds geared toward acquisition of technology, but not maintenance or training.

If you listen to IQ researchers, you may begin to believe that the human capital--the number of people with >90 IQ needed to do rudimentary maintenance, and with >110 IQ needed to do more complex maintenace, is not available. That is a matter of debate.

What is clear, is that this type of weapons catastrophe is likely to happen wherever such sophisticated weapons are sold to third world nations, and entrusted to third world militaries.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Will Brown said...

Now here we can see an example of a serious examination of a story and ... not so much. We both link the same article from the same source, proving that context - of presentation in this case - is all important to arriving at understanding. Al Fin is to be commended for resisting the temptation. Snark; it's like crack for bloggers.

All that said, I do have to ask; would you rather sell other country's armies weapons they can actually expect to reliably use against us? Or the latest, greatest wonder weapon they have to hire - others - to keep in working order? Admittedly, there is a certain madness to the method, but the method deserves a bit more acknowledgement then your post seems prepared to recognise.

The rest of us (that would be me) just surrender to the snark and get it over with early.

Friday, 19 October, 2007  
Blogger neil craig said...

The history of Mohammed ali, ruler of Egypt during the early 19thC who bought in the latest cotton weaving equipment from Britain, to a country which had almost forgotten the wheel, is illustrative.

The equipment got broken.

Friday, 19 October, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

Neil: Exactly. That story repeats almost endlessly in the history of the interaction of the first world and the third world.

Will: The radical leftist zeitgeist, which has taken over most universities, claims as an absolute that the third world is primitive because the first world exploits it so badly.

If, on the other hand, the third world was primitive because it lacked the human capital to be anything else, the old leftist fable would be seen for the propaganda it is.

One recurring thread of evidence that the latter explanation has at least some merit, is the inability of third world nations to maintain the technologies of modern existence. Sophisticated military technology is more of a sidelight--a circus show. The sad reality is reflected in their electrical grids, transportation systems, sewer systems, food distribution systems, medical facilities, etc etc.

Without maintenance, there is no modern technology (for very long).

I'm a big fan of "appropriate technology" that gives the third world peoples what they need, and what they can take care of. Such will necessarily be vastly different from what most of us in the first world are accustomed to.

Saturday, 20 October, 2007  
Blogger Will Brown said...

Sadly, I'm afraid there is some truth to both sets of world views.

The west does exploit third world country's by marketing the weapon (and other) systems that they are already in the business of manufacturing and selling. The necessary educational and direct support personnel needed to maintain (and often operate) such equipment is simply regarded as an additional income stream for the manufacturers or an entire sub-catagory of contracting agency.

The practical reality of such arrangements differ from the radical leftie distopia in that there is an inevitable influence upon third world societies simply by their association with such technologies as well as the personnel brought in to service them. The "rising tide" economic theory applied to social development if you will. One has to be willing to accept that people are capable of deciding how their desires should be satisfied - whatever first world denigrationists might think to the contrary.

The so-far insurmountable problem inherant to third world societies is their members inability to conceptualise the impact of individual actions upon systemic structures. There are enough examples of such ignorance here in the US, but at least the systems themselves are run by people who do recognise their suseptability to abuse and work to moderate the demands placed upon them.

Islamic cultures in particular work to prevent the development of such middle-management mindset due to it's adament rejection of equivocation on matters of doctrine, whether religious or professional.

Saturday, 20 October, 2007  

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