hrld ded wilm probs king by xmas. hm soon! translation
While you don't need to know how a gun works to know how to use one, the society as a whole must be able to support the thinkers and builders of such a device for it to see widespread and sustained use. Not so when you have Low Culture High Tech; this is a faction, culture, or race that uses technology far in advance of their scientific and cultural knowledge, often for warfare.
Usually this group has pirated the technology from someone else. It may be Lost Technology
that they have recovered and use, often very sturdy, self-replicating lost tech that only requires raw materials be input, if even that. Or it could be a Black Box
tech that none of their existing machines can do without. There may instead be a group of "thinkers and builders" who use the primitives as shock troops or even as a Slave Race
. It's also possible the tables are turned and the primitives have either taken the builders hostage or killed them all and taken all of their goodies (without bothering with the instruction manual
). If the original source of the tech is Shrouded in Myth
, they may become a Cargo Cult
Typically, the primitives will only use a fraction of the technology's potential and not know all of its abilities. At best they will be able to maintain the equipment without knowing how to repair it should a major malfunction happens. It's highly possible that the original creators, or a group with sufficiently advanced science (even just curiosity and a working knowledge of the scientific method), can pull the rug out from under these primitives by either confiscating, hacking, or better using their pirated tech against them.
It's worth noting that a civilization doesn't have to be at stone age or Medieval
levels of technology for this trope to apply. They just have to routinely use tech far in advance of their ability to comprehend. A story set in 21st century Earth could have this trope apply if the planet were given Imported Alien Phlebotinum
. Even space faring peoples can have Low Culture, High Tech
if they use stuff they don't understand.
Lastly, we want to draw attention to the following from the first paragraph "far in advance of their scientific and cultural
knowledge". It's important to point out that not only are they using things they don't understand technologically, but for which they haven't considered the cultural, social, or ethical ramifications. It's one thing to give a hunter-gatherer society an Energy Bow
, but giving them a cloning device? Their society may crumble from the onset of massive Cloning Blues
, not to mention the ecological disaster of the massive population growth. It's because of this that many aliens (and future humanity) tend to subscribe to an Alien Non-Interference Clause
or a You Are Not Ready
Related to Insufficiently Advanced Alien
, which is about a race that's interstellar, but every other tech they have sucks comparatively, and
they probably don't understand it. Contrast Rock Beats Laser
. The Noble Savage
inverts this trope, being essentially High Culture, Low Tech. See also Bamboo Technology
, Aliens Never Invented The Wheel
, Scavenger World
and Cargo Cult
. Not to be confused with "High Tech and Low Life.
Anime and Manga
- The nations of Dissith and Anatore in Last Exile qualify by virtue of not having anti-gravity technology which they lease from the Guild. The best they've developed is small fighter planes.
- In Zero No Tsukaima there are caches of weapons from Earth scattered over the continent of Halkeginia, which is a Medieval European Fantasy land. It is the result of a spell that is constantly pulling weapons from Earth for quite some time.
- The airships in Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind rely on engines that reflect technology from before the Seven Days of Fire. Several times throughout the manga, characters scramble to recover the engines from downed ships as they are the only components that are irreplaceable.
- Done in one issue of Thorgal, where a "sun sword" used by a minor warlord to conquer his neighbours turns out to be a phaser left after the villain of one of the previous arcs.
- Some of the civilisations of Skartaris in The Warlord have access to advanced Atlantean technology, but no understanding of how it actually works.
- The early mini-comics from the original He-Man toyline, that were packed in with the toys. The primitive barbarian tribe He-man belonged to, the Eternians, used technology that had been left by their technologically advanced ancestors.
- In Richard Corben's Den comics, Neverwhere is a primitive Sword and Sorcery planet where Queen Kil has occasionally supplied weapons through magic, ranging from primitive knives to fully loaded automatic firearms.
- The Horde of Strikeforce: Morituri are a race of alien invaders who plunder other worlds for technology and resources, but have a culture built on tribalism and terror. Human characters who manage to board their spacecraft quickly note the numerous jury-riggeed systems used to adapt it for the Horde's needs.
- In Marvel Universe the nation of Wakanda is a subversion. It is a small yet high tech nation in the center of Africa with access to Vibranium, a super element. While its people still live in tribal lifestyle and maintain an absolute monarchy, they single handedly developed high tech capabilities and a beyond first world industrial base. While many westerners think it's odd that such a technologically advanced society is still rooted in tribalism, the Wakandan's usually point out that they have a higher standard of living than most western countries because their social roots remain strong. For this reason it also retains a very isolationist stance. On the flip side, the post of king is open to Klingon Promotion.
- Also from the Marvel Universe, the Breakworld seen in Joss Whedon's run on X-Men possesses some very impressive technology, but exists in a constant state of warfare and tyranny. Most of the Breakworlders don't think this is a bad thing, and the one that does is the true Big Bad of the arc and an Omnicidal Maniac who wants to blow up her own planet to boot.
- Twice in Battlefield Earth. Much of the Psychlo's technology was stolen from their rivals, at one point they had a slave race of scientists which they later destroyed. The humans end up this way towards their own and Psychlo technology.
- The original Planet of the Apes film has the apes wield rifles but possess no other tech.
- Yor: The Hunter from the Future has, as Spoony called them "Cavemen with Lasers".
- The barbarian class in Zardoz are given rifles and guns by more advanced humans.
- The aliens from Cowboys and Aliens give off this distinct impression. They have interstellar travel, powerful energy weapons, and all sorts of other advanced technology, but when it comes down to it, Wild West humans come off as more civilized (let that sink in for a second). They seem to prefer brutally ripping their enemies in hand-to-hand combat, and some even eat fallen humans, or at least go for the throat, despite having ubertech guns that can blow up houses. Also, they have a bad case of interstellar Gold Fever.
- It's also claimed that a single ship with a few scores of these things is enough to destroy all of human civilization.
- The Prawns from District 9 are pretty animalistic, but only because the ones we see are part of a rather unintelligent worker caste that don't know how to do anything unless they're told. All the more intelligent leaders died before their ship arrived at Earth. Well, most of them did.
- Well, that's one interpretation, anyway. The other possibility is that spending at least one generation on the wrong end of Fantastic Apartheid, penned up in a filthy shanty-town, would have that effect on anyone. Make what you will of the fact that most scenes in the eponymous District were shot in a 100% authentic Johannesburg slum...
- In The Fifth Element, Arms Dealer Zorg agrees to sell crates of ultra-cutting-edge assault rifles to Omnicidal Maniac Warrior Race the Mangalores in return for their finding him the Macguffin.
- And then as soon as he walks out of the room, he deconstructs this trope by pointing out that anyone smart enough to use the weapon would be smart enough to ask how it works. The Mangalores promptly blow themselves up by accidentally triggering the Self Destruct button.
- In the Predator franchise, the Predators are an ancient alien race that have advanced technology like plasmacasters, cloaking devices and advanced metallurgy for melee weapons. However, their society seems to be extremely primitive, almost tribal in nature, with no visible culture beyond hunting and warfare. According to Expanded Universe and Word Of God, this is because their species scavenged technology from failed alien invaders and they neither develop their own technology or have any understanding of how the advanced stuff works. So, as a species, they're stuck.
- A partial example in Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, where Pirk, Dwarf, and Info are stuck on modern-day Earth after traveling from their own time. When the First Contact with the Vulgars is messed up by a rock star (the Vulgars are too busy partying and doing drugs), Park takes it upon himself to establish the P-Fleet by using a bunch of disgruntled Russians to build the CPP Kickstart (Expy of the Enterprise-E) based on Info's remembered plans and the Vulgar Anti Matter reactor. He then allies with the Russian President and retools the Russian military with futuristic technology, quickly conquering the world and establishing the P-Union with himself as The Emperor. However, Info reveals that the comparatively low level of human technology means that the ship's systems are not up to their usual standarts (due to impurities in Anti Matter, the Kickstart can only go to "twist" factor 2). As such, despite Pirk using the resources of the entire world to build a space station and dozens of ships, they lack the power to actually reach other stars in any reasonable amount of time (years at best). The CPP Kalinka (an Expy of the original Enterprise) looks so crappy compared to the Kickstart because they ran out of good-quality materials and had to make do. During the Space Battle, the Kalinka sustains damage despite the fact that it was never fired upon. Hell, the enemy doesn't even bother attacking the rustbucket, figuring it'll fall apart on its own. Pirk's entire reason for invading the Babel-13 universe is to conquer habitable planets and get more resources.
- The Downer Ending implies that, in Pirk's absence, humans fought a war using advanced technology (including Anti Matter) and wiped out everyone.
- Known Space has the Kzin, tribals bootstrapped by an alien race as mercenaries turned galactic conquerors. Had no idea reaction drives could be used as weapons. Their culture also is heavily influenced by what happens when Bronze age cultures get genetic engineering and try to engineer their men into Heroes, and make their women become less naggy. They make their women effectively non sentient, and their men into buff warriors with few skills but leaping and yelling.
- The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad, features "The Steel Commander", a metal truncheon that has an apparent weight and mass of tonnes and yet can be effortlessly wielded by a person of sufficient genetic "purity". It was created by an enclave of scientists who'd survived "The Fire" (a global nuclear war) for Heldon, the father of a fascist movement to preserve a core of unmutated humans (and who slew them for their trouble).
- In Old Man's War one alien faction was gifted a device by a more advanced species that allowed them to predict exactly when and where ships would be arriving via FTL. This immediately grants them a massive advantage in their war against the humans, who have to come up with an exceedingly risky plan to counteract it.
- In World War the British, unable to build a lightweight radar unit to install in their planes, cannibalize surviving radar units from the Lizards' planes that they've managed to shoot down, citing this premise in doing so. Similarly, the Nazis develop armor-piercing, discarding-sabot shells based upon shells they've captured from the Lizards.
- It helps that the Race's military technology is ahead of that of humans by a few decades at best. It's heavily implied that the Race arrived at just the right time in our history to pose a threat to humans without being able to completely steamroll over us. Had they arrived only a decade earlier, this is what would've happened. Had they waited a decade or two (as some of their superiors wanted), they would've faced a Cold War-era world with thousands of nukes and two superpowers gearing up for war, not to mention the beginnings of space exploration (i.e. orbital delivery platforms) and advances in computing.
- In Uplift every single extant alien race was uplifted by another and got their technology from "the Library", several species uplifted as warriors seem downright barbaric to humans who had to develop a near-utopian society through trial and error.
- The ruling class in Book Of The New Sun have access to anti-gravity, energy weapons and genetic engineering. But since they get all these things by trading with aliens, they don't actually understand how any of these technologies work. The actual technological level of the society is more primitive than ours, though it's not clear how much of that is lost knowledge and how much is simply that their desperate material poverty makes it impossible to maintain a technological society.
- In the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, this is one of the major themes in the first book. As the Galactic Empire begins to come apart at the seams, planets on the very periphery of the Empire lose the ability to build nuclear reactors. Even in the heart of the Empire itself, scientific knowledge has stagnated so much that they can only perform routine maintenance on their power plants. As early as 25 years after Hari Seldon predicted the fall of the Empire, a reactor on a planet experiences a Chernobyl-like meltdown, and the response by the Empire is to restrict further nuclear testing. The Foundation first manages to establish hegemony in the fringes of the Galaxy by providing the independent Kingdoms around them with nuclear technology, as well as technicians able to run and maintain the devices (and keeping for themselves anyone smart and educated enough to design new technology).
- The entire plot of the Robert A. Heinlein novel Orphans of the Sky. The novel's characters live on a Generation Ship whose crew mutinied several generations back. By the time the novel takes place, the crew has become so backward that they think the ship is the whole Universe, and a large portion live as subsistence farmers. The only reason the ship still works is that its reactornote can convert any matter into energy at pretty much 100% efficiency. Everything that is no longer useful, including the dead, are used as fuel for the reactor.
- In the first Honor Harrington novel the Havenites gave a faction of the primitive Medusan natives flintlock rifles in an attempt to manufacture an incident that would give them an excuse to invade the system (and claim its wormhole) as a "peacekeeping action". Unfortunately for them Honor discovered the plot and sent a platoon of marines in Powered Armor to curbstomp the offending faction.
- Also unfortunately for the Havenites, they underestimated the Medusan's skill and tech base, and found that the primitives were now mass producing the weapons, leading to their Havenite handlers losing all control of the situation.
- Doctor Who has a variation of this: A Sontaran gives rifles to a 12th-century English warlord. The Power Of Kroll has the boss of a mining rig hire an arms dealer to sell defective weapons to the natives of a moon that orbits his planet. This is to justify removing said natives because his company wants that moon.
- The alien invaders in one Saturday Night Live sketch apparently had this problem. After landing and threatening the people of Earth with destruction, they overplay their hand, as the Earthlings do not, in fact, tremble before the power of their mighty flintlock muskets. It seems all their technology other than starships was woefully behind that of 1990s Earth. The police dealing with the situation suspect their ship was stolen.
- The Ferengi in Star Trek: The Next Generation were originally designed to follow this trope and were introduced by one of the characters explaining that they are a species who simply should not have been given access to advanced technology yet, as they have not yet reached a sufficiently developed state to use it responsibly. However, there was a very strong sub-human racist vibe to it and they mostly disappeared until being revived as a greedy merchant species in Deep Space Nine.
- The Pakleds are bright enough to steal whatever technology they can get their hands on (as well as abduct Engineer Geordi LaForge), but express themselves in infantile terms (they want LaForge to "make [their ship] go" so that they can be "strong") and are fooled into surrendering by a harmless, if Technobabble-laden, pyrotechnic display. Whether these two Pakleds are representative of their entire species is never really addressed, however.
- Another Star Trek example has the episode "A Private Little War" from Star Trek: The Original Series. Kirk and McCoy discover that the Klingons gave flintlock weapons to the natives who didn't have them before. To restore the balance of power, Kirk provides another group (a bunch of cavemen) with them. McCoy compares their situation to the "Brush Wars" of the mid 20th Century.
- This is also the origin of Klingons themselves. They were originally a slave race who overthrew their masters and stole their tech.
- The episode "Bread and Circuses" featured a world with 1960s-level tech(television, firearms) but a society that mirrored the Roman Empire, complete with the slow rise of Christianity(albeit 2000 years late).
- Actual this is even a straighter example of this trope than that. It's implied that the captain who had been stranded on that planet gave the Roman Empire the modern technology in exchange for being made emperor.
- The Kazon from Star Trek: Voyager don't exactly inspire confidence with their technical abilities. However, they only recently acquired it, namely by overthrowing their Trabe conquerors.
- There's a reason the Borg deemed the Kazon to have absolutely nothing worth assimilating.
- Stargate SG-1:
- It has this apply to humans and the slaves of the Goa'uld. SG-1 gets a lot of tech they only barely understand, and later on the Asgard gift humanity with a database and replicator for all of their advanced tech (which most likely will take centuries to reverse-engineer everything). The Goa'uld purposely make their (also pirated) tech user friendly for the Jaffa to use.
- The Tollan deliberately invoke this with "primitive" societies that haven't reached their technological level. They once gifted their technology to another species to help them, and as a result said species wiped itself out in a single day. Since then they have been extremely leery about sharing tech with anyone else, even Earth.
- One episode in particular has SGC retrofit a Goa'uld fighter with Earth-tech modifications and show it off to other members of the military. On a test run they accidentally triggered a homing program that tried to return it to its point of origin across the galaxy at sublight speeds. Given that SGC didn't have anything nearly fast enough to retrieve the ship and crew they had to call for help from the Tok'ra, who berates them for slapping an Air Force label on a ship they didn't understand. Later episodes showed they learned enough about the technology to build comparable fighters from scratch and eventually made their own battleships.
- Interestingly it is often pointed out that the Goa'uld aren't all that different. They are just as 'unready' for certain Ancient technologies and this seems to be one of the things that causes the large amount of infighting that allowed human and Jaffa to overthrow them. Despite the Goa'uld having stolen the capacity for interstellar flight thousands of years ago, the Ancients and Asgard are still sufficiently far beyond them. Both of those races had reached intergalactic flight technology (with at least the Ancients even having traveled to galaxies outside their original local cluster long before their technological peak) before the Goa'uld even got off their original planet.
- An early episode had O'Neill resolve a problem late in the episode by giving a local Mongol warlord his handgun, which the warlord celebrates by Firing in the Air a Lot, and O'Neill lampshades that they should get going before he uses up the ammo in the single magazine.
- A sketch on Dave Allen At Large shows Allen as a native American chief who a British explorer is negotiating with; he is offered trinkets for various tracts of land. He wants the "stick that goes boom" (a rifle) but is refused. Finally he offers all the land they're trying to acquire for the "stick that goes boom," and the Brit, seeing this as a huge bargain, agrees. Brit gives Chief the rifle. Chief shoots Brit, and then he & his tribe members take the chest full of trinkets.
- Played for laughs in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure when Beethoven gets access to modern synthesisers.
- The Pylons from Land of the Lost are remnants of a past civilization yet are more advanced than anything the Sleestaks could create.
- On Earth 2, the Terrians (underground-dwelling humanoids who share a symbiotic relationship with their homeworld) appear to be tribes of Hunter-Gatherers, but due to the green rock-like properties of their planet, wield staffs that shoot lightning bolts. It's implied several times in the series that the Terrians used to be much more like humans, and may even have had more conventional, industrial technology, before they evolved into a species of benevolent symbiotes.
- It's also implied that the Terrians are also not native to Earth 2 and are colonizing it as well.
- Babylon 5 is interesting in that most of the races qualify to varying degrees. Much of the Narns' technology is reversed engineered from captured Centauri examples, and while the Narn seem quite capable of building and using the weapons, they never acquired the Artificial Gravity technology used by the Centauri's ships, meaning they were still at a marked disadvantage. Similarly, the Minbari were given advanced technology by the Vorlons, and the humans ended up acquiring Shadow technology. In both of the later cases, the younger races were hard at work figuring out how the technology worked so they could apply it to their own designs.
- In one episode of Lexx, the Lexx visits a planet populated by a seemingly medieval-level society composed entirely of men. When Kai wonders how they reproduce, one of the elder members explains to Kai that their ancestors left behind special pods that produce new brothers. In the end, said elder reveals the truth: their ancestors wanted to create a simple society free of sexual competition, believing that was the only way to maintain peace. Their advanced knowledge was passed down only to a select few like the elder. Believing that Xev's presence has permanently "tainted" them, the elder triggers the self-destruct sequence of the entire planet.
- Warhammer 40000:
- This is pretty much the hat that the orks wear. Some of their tech is either extremely basic, looted, or only works because they think it's supposed to. Other technological knowledge is carried genetically in Meks.
- And Meks themselves are by no means above this: One ransomed a dormant Necron tomb for a bunch of Doomsday Arks, but couldn't resist trying to take one apart, with predictable consequences.
- The Imperium from the same setting has completely lost the scientific method, the closest it has to scientists and engineers are a priest class that does almost everything by rote and individuals horde knowledge which is then lost when they die. A common feature of their technology is that you have to be advanced to design it, but not to build it (for instance the Lasgun laser weapons require less manufacturing ability than a modern assault rifle and is more reliable to boot). As a result their technology has been in decline for thousands of years, and they don't know how to build their best ships and weapons anymore.
- Demonstrated explicitly in Priests of Mars. When asked how it's even possible to analyse the life cycles of stars, a tech-priest is forced to explain basic (as in high school) principles of scientific proofs and methodology. It's a testament to the state of the Imperium that her audience isn't even stupid or from a crude society; he's fairly intelligent and is the captain of a starship.
- Eldar Exodites seem like this trope, but are actually a subversion. They live in low technology tribal society, yet have access to laser- and fusion weapons similar to Cratworld Eldar, as well Knight Titans (a smaller, but still quite large, class of the setting's Humongous Mecha). However, rather than being a primitive society using high technology they don't understand, the Exodites have the necessary knowledge to make all the high tech stuff their Craftworld cousins have but choose to only use as much technology as necessary.
- The Kroot are also an example, having gained their technology by eating Orks and inheriting their genetically encoded technology. As a result you have a tribal society with solid-propellant weapons (later upgraded to use plasma-based ammunition when they became a client species for the Tau Empire) and Warp-capable starships.
- The Rogue Trader RPG features the Rak'Gol, a race of aliens that makes the Orks look positively cultured. Though their technology is primitive compared to just about all races (for example, their spacecraft are powered by unshielded nuclear reactors instead of plasma drives) it's a wonder they have any technology at all, let alone FTL-capable ships, since they seem to be little more than extremely violent beasts. It's debated whether they can even be considered to have a culture of any kind. It's hinted they may merely be pawns of some other race that presumably uplifted them.
- A few societies in Exalted are in this boat, most notably Lookshy of the Scavenger Lands.
- In the Dark Sun setting of Dungeons & Dragons, the civilized halflings have actually lost most of their life-shaping technology (though it is still miraculous to anyone else). They can still replicate life-shaped tools and creatures, but only in a ritualized manner, much like using a cookbook for doing advanced chemistry when you don't know anything about chemistry, but still having it work.
- Traveller, the Aslan are a Proud Warrior Race with little social organization above the "clan" level. Who somehow developed Jump drive and became a major race, it's been suggested often that they reverse-engineered it from one of the "true" major races.
- In Jix the Ambis acquired much of their advanced tech from another species who tried to invade their homeworld.
- Justice League: At one point, two time-traveling Thanagarians crash landed into Ancient Egypt. They couldn't get home, so they spent their days giving technology to the nearby villagers. Naturally the village became a grand kingdom within a generation. The people never learned how to make the tools though - only use them - and when the aliens died, the society collapsed pretty quickly.
- The age of European exploration and trade:
- Numerous native groups fought their wars with European-made muskets that were either scavenged, stolen, or - more often - traded for. The need to buy muskets and shot to fight wars against each other is part of the reason the kingdoms and tribes of (coastal) central-west Africa were so eager to enslave each other and sell said slaves to the Europeans. This was quite profitable for said (very well-armed) tribes and kingdoms in the short term (essentially the seventeenth century) but it kind of screwed the region over in the long term socially and economically.
- Many contemporary authors lampshaded the irony of European slave-traders being forced to accept the terms of trade dictated to them by African slave-traders; the latter were just as well if not better-armed (not to mention vastly more numerous) than the former, so they largely had to accept what the latter had to offer. There are also many instances of European would-be settlers being repelled by natives armed with European weapons. The Great Plains of central north America - the heartland of the modern USA - was one such region, with Argentina and New Zealand being others. The way things worked out, the Europeans who sold them the weapons and the Europeans who tried to settle their lands were often countrymen. This all changed in the 19th Century with the advent of the repeating rifle, of course.
- Another major factor was that the Americans eventually (once they got over their sense of superiority, which took quite a while) copied the tactics of the plains Indians, which were far better suited to their environment (see especially Texas Rangers vs. Comanches).
- Averted in Japan. Portuguese traders brought firearms to Japan, thinking that the Japanese would need them to keep supplying the technology. Within a few years, Japanese smiths had taken them apart and were building even better ones. During the Sengoku era, some estimates hold that the majority of firearms in the entire world were made in Japan.
- Averted again when Japan's isolationism was forcibly ended by Commodore Perry's expedition. After discovering how far they'd fallen behind in weapons technology, the Japanese once again adapted with amazing speed, developing an arms industry that was on par with the Europeans in a generation.
- Worth noting: Japan eventually became known as one of the most technologically innovative nations on the planet.
- Rather surprisingly for a high-tech empire as the Third Reich appeared, for some time, mostly from the seizure of power in 1933 to the first years of the war they had been regarded as this trope embodied, by British and Francophone sources on one side and by the educated classes of the German society on the other side. The German society from the unification to the first years of the Reich had been very classist, playing on conservatism, modesty, classical German culture, Catholic and Protestant religion and established social relationships. The Nazis -disregarding the British proverb which said "It takes 3 years to build a ship, but 300 years to build a tradition"- judged everything by power as the universal medicine: they could build advanced weapons and industrial machinery, motorways, modern architecture, public TV stations, and for this reason they felt no obligation to listen to anyone else, they could afford to disregard entirely the evolution of culture and arts before them and throw anything not suited to the garbage as "degenerate and Jewish art". There was no surprise in the fact they were hated for it and treated like primitives suddenly endowed with power and technology. The nouveau riche attitude of the political leadership, men like Robert Ley or Hermann Goering ruling their departments and flaunting their wealth like Mafia-bosses only made things worse.
- During the Cold War, both superpowers would give or sell weapon systems to third world countries, with the intention they were to be used in support of or against communism respectively. USSR's official policy was generally selling arms on credit of for concessions, but no one realistically expected them to be paid out. US on their part often gave such discounts and lease terms to their clients that they basically meant giving tech out for free.
- Harsher in Hindsight, considering how the U.S. military and financial aid to Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion Of Afghanistan ended up helping create Al-Qaeda, culminating with it biting us in the ass with the 9/11 attacks. And again with the past few years of attacks against American military by the very Afghan soldiers we trained. Maybe it's time to stop giving guns to a culture that is constantly at war...
- On the topic of selling or providing weapons and equipment to third world nations: Many of those countries lack the industrial, technological, and knowledge base to properly maintain that equipment, meaning that a big part of giving it to them is sending experienced personnel to train them in its use and maintenance. It can take considerably more work to train a third worlder how to maintain a helicopter than it would to do the same with someone from the First World, through no fault of the trainee's. He simply did not benefit from the same education and technology immersion that many Westerners would consider not even worth noting.
- This is also how the AK-series rifle and derivative designs became so common; it takes advanced knowledge of engineering and physics to design one, but any decently-equipped smith or tinker can reproduce a working model.
- In Mexico, the Spanish settlers thought it would be safe to sell horses to the Indians as long as they didn't sell them guns. Likewise in (what would later become) USA, British settlers thought it would be safe to sell guns to the Indians as long as they didn't sell horses.
- While the Indians may not have known how to make more guns, it didn't take a genius to figure out how to "make" more horses.
- In William Kamkwamba's autobiography The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, it is mentioned repeatedly that many people in the African nation of Malawi often don't have electricity or running water, but nonetheless own cell phones. Of course, they have to go into town to charge them.
- This isn't as dramatic an example as it seems. Running power, plumbing, and traditional phone lines to a scattered population is a massive logistical operation, but you can get a cell network up with one tower.
- Many experts believe that one of the key contributors to the Rwandan genocide was the too sudden emergence of mass media in a country that had a huge amount of tension and resentment in a largely uneducated populace, and had not had enough time to work them out peacefully. The Other Wiki details in one part of its article how in the hope that it would promote an informed populace and assist the spread of democracy and human rights, various international agencies had assisted and encouraged the development of the radio and printing, but didn't realise until it was too late what the people who got control of the media could use it for.