There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?
The first and most important rule of gun-running is, never get shot with your own merchandise.
The second rule of gun-running is always ensure you have a foolproof way of getting paid, preferably in advance, preferably to an offshore account.
I don't know what was going through Vitaly's head that day. What I do know is that Vitaly broke the cardinal rule of gun-running: never pick up a gun and join the customers.
Of all the weapons in the vast Soviet arsenal nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947, more commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It's the world's most popular assault rifle, a weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple nine pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood, it doesn't break, jam, or overheat. It will shoot whether it's covered in mud or filled with sand. It's so easy even a child can use it, and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin, Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people's greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure; no one was lining up to buy their cars.
The first time you sell a gun is a lot like the first time you have sex. You have absolutely no idea what you're doing, but it is exciting, and, one way or another it's over way too fast.
Selling guns is like selling vacuum cleaners; you make calls, pound the pavement, take orders. I was an equal-opportunity merchant of death; I supplied to every army but the Salvation Army. I sold Israeli-made Uzis to Muslims...I delivered Communist-made bullets to fascists...I even shipped cargo to Afghanistan while they were fighting my fellow Soviets. I never sold to Osama bin Laden—not on any moral grounds; back then, he was always bouncing cheques.
Every faction in Africa calls themselves by these noble names Liberation-this, Patriotic-that, Democratic Republic of something-or-other. I guess they can't own up to what they usually are -- Federation of Worse Oppressors Than the Last Bunch of Oppressors. Often, the most barbaric atrocities occur when both combatants proclaim themselves freedom fighters.
They say evil prevails when good humans fail to act. What they ought to say is, evil prevails.
I now shared more in common with the leader of that country God seemed to have forsaken. We saw something in each other neither one of us liked, or maybe we were just looking in the mirror.
Without operations like mine it would be impossible for certain countries to conduct a respectable war. I was able to navigate around those inconvenient little arms embargoes. There are three basic types of arms deal: white, being legal, black, being illegal, and my personal favorite color, "gray." Sometimes I made the deal so convoluted, it was hard for me to work out if they were on the level.
There are two great tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want. The other is getting it.
You know who's going to inherit the earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other. That's the secret to survival. Never go to war, especially with yourself.
[to Yuri Orlov] You get rich by giving the poorest people on the planet the means to continue killing each other. Do you know why I do what I do? I mean, there are more prestigious assignments. Keeping track of nuclear arsenals. You'd think that more critical to world security. But it's not. No. Nine out of ten war victims today are killed with assault rifles and small arms. Like yours. Those nuclear missiles, they sit in their silos. Your AK-47, that is the real weapon of mass destruction.
Monrovian Hotel Clerk: [watching OJ Simpson's trial] My God, man, he nearly cut her head off! When I get to America, I will not live in Brentwood.
Ava Fontaine: I feel like all I've done my whole life is be pretty. I mean, all I've done is be born! I'm a failed actress, a failed artist... I'm not much good as a mother. Come to think of it, I'm not even that pretty anymore. I have failed at everything, Yuri... but I won't fail as a human being.
Arms Fair Salesman: Sir! Sir, may I interest you in the shoulder fired S-37 surface-to-air missle? It's the old Chinese model. Not so effective against modern military aircraft but deadly if used against a commerical airliner.
Vitaly Orlov: Yuri, what the fuck do you know about guns?
Yuri Orlov: I know which end I'd rather be on.
Vitaly Orlov: What, are you thinking of opening a gun shop?
Yuri Orlov: Already more of those in America than McDonald's. Even with all the gangs around here, the margins are too low.
Vitaly Orlov: You've worked out the margins?
Yuri Orlov: I've already made the first sale. We're already in business.
Vitaly Orlov: We?
Yuri Orlov: I need a partner.
Vitaly Orlov: I don't know, Yuri- I don't know...
Yuri Orlov: Vitaly, I've tasted your borsch- you're no fucking chef! I can eat in the restaurant for free and I still don't eat there!
Vitaly Orlov: Fuck you!
Yuri Orlov: We're doing nothing with our lives! I mean- it's a shit! It's a shit!
Vitaly Orlov: It's true. But maybe doing nothing's better than doing this.
Simeon Weisz: I don't think you and I are in the same business. You think I just sell guns, don't you? I don't. I take sides.
Yuri: But in the Iran-Iraq War, you sold guns to both sides.
Simeon Weisz: Did you ever consider that I wanted both sides to lose? Bullets change governments far surer than votes. You're in the wrong place, my young friend; this is no place for amateurs.
Andre Baptiste Sr.: Welcome, both of you. Welcome to Democracy!
Yuri Orlov: Democracy? What have you been drinking, Andy?
Andre Baptiste Sr.: Heh, you have not seen the news. You know, they accuse me of rigging elections. But after this - [holds up a newspaper with the headline "U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Recount Ruling"] - with your Florida and your Supreme Court of Kangaroos, now, the U.S. will shut up forever! [laughs]
Yuri Orlov: I know you're planning a new offensive. If you can delay a week, I can get you armored personnel carriers. They'll greatly reduce your casualties, and give you a significant strategic advantage.
[Andre Baptiste Sr. looks at Yuri for a moment, visibly impressed.]
Andre Baptiste Sr.: You know, they call me the Lord of War. But perhaps it is you.
Yuri Orlov: It's not "Lord of War", it's "Warlord".
Andre Baptiste Sr.: Thank you, but I prefer it my way.
Yuri: How many Kalashnikovs do you have?
Uncle Dimitri: Forty thousand.
Yuri: Is that a four? Doesn't look like a four to me. Looks more like a one.
Uncle Dimitri: No, it's a four.
Yuri: It's whatever we say it is, because no one else will know the difference. Ten thousand Kalashnikovs for a battalion... your stocks are badly depleted, Dimitri. You should order more from the factory.
Uncle Dimitri: Someone will work it out. What happens then?
Yuri Orlov: We'll cut them in.
Anatoly Orlov: I'm not a fool, Yuri. I don't think you're going to America just to sell Pepsi-Cola. But is this how you want to be remembered?
Yuri Orlov: I don't want to be remembered at all. If I'm being remembered it means I'm dead.
Yuri Orlov: Enjoy it.
Jack Valentine: What?
Yuri Orlov: This. Tell me I'm everything you despise. That I'm the personification of evil. That I'm what- responsible for the breakdown of the fabric of society and world order. I'm a one-man genocide. Say everything you want to say to me now. Because you don't have long.
Jack Valentine: Are you crazy? Or just plain delusional? I don't think you fully appreciate the seriousness of your situation! You are gonna spend the next ten years of your life going from a cell to a courtroom before you even start serving your time!
Yuri Orlov: [Quietly] My family has disowned me. My wife and son have left me. And my brother's dead. I can assure you I appreciate the seriousness of my situation. But I promise you- I won't spend a single second in a courtroom.
Jack Valentine: [Scoffs] You are delusional.
Yuri Orlov: I like you, Jack. [Considers] Well, maybe not, but- I understand you. Let me tell you what's gonna happen. This way you can prepare yourself. Okay. Soon there's gonna be a knock on that door and you will be called outside. In the hall there will be a man who outranks you. First, he'll compliment you on the fine job you've done, that you're making the world a safer place, that you're to receive a commendation and a promotion. And then he's going to tell you that I am to be released. You're going to protest... you'll probably threaten to resign. But in the end, I will be released. The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of those men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss, the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year... sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So ... you call me evil. But unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil.
[Valentine now looks very grim, realizing Orlov is right. There is a knock at the door just as Yuri promised.]
Jack Valentine: [Getting up] I would tell you to go to Hell, but I think you're already there.