The answer to this question can be found in the Prologue to Guns, Germs, and Steel. In it, Diamond says that Yali, a New Guinean leader, once asked him why it was that "white people developed so much cargo [material goods] and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own" (13). This leads Diamond to the salient question of the book:
Why did wealth and power become distributed as they now are, rather than in some other way? For instance, why weren't Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and Asians (15)?
Diamond, in short, is seeking to understand why world history progressed as it did, and as a biologist, he will look deeper than cultural, economic, and political considerations, which, he tells the reader, have preoccupied historians. But he mentions three considerations, or "objections," as he terms them. They are paraphrased as follows:
- By explaining the dominance of some people over others, are we running the risk of justifying their actions? He dismisses this concern by saying that understanding the origins of something is not the same as justifying or accepting the human actions involved.
- Does investigating the origins of European dominance necessarily involve a "Eurocentric" approach to history? Diamond argues that his approach leads to the opposite conclusion of approaches that glorify European cultural and technological achievements.
- Is the study of "civilization" based on the assumption that societies and people with advanced technology are necessarily superior to hunter-gatherer societies, for example? Diamond assures the reader that this is not his suggestion, saying that the "so-called blessings of civilization" are mixed, at best.
So, in short, Diamond says that Guns, Germs, and Steel is, if anything, geared toward addressing the kinds of concerns he raises. It is in no way intended to justify European culture or the ways in which it spread around the world.