Guns are very durable — ownership tends to be transient.
The New York Times examines a weapons cache which provides a snapshot of the arsenal that the Taliban in Marja — the part of Helmand Province that has seen the most sustained fighting of 2010 — have been using against US marines.
In this collection, a third of the weapons are bolt-actions rifles from World War II or earlier.
The photograph above shows a 1915 Lee Enfield rifle — a gun that was manufactured in the millions to defend the British Empire.
Did the manufacturers have the slightest idea that they were making weapons that would outlast an empire?
What does the fact that the US military is now locked in a stalemate against an irregular force with vastly inferior weaponry say about the return American taxpayers are getting from a defense budget that dwarfs all others?
Would the Marines be significantly worse off if they too carried Lee Enfields?
But here’s the serious question:
When Britain was amassing an arsenal to defend its empire, it spent a tiny fraction of what the US now spends producing an array of weapons far less potent than those the Pentagon now requires.
If we assume that, just as was the case for the British, the American arsenal far outlasts the American empire, what kind of world will we see a hundred years from now when America is a shadow of its former self and fighters across the planet are wielding M16 rifles instead of Lee Enfields?