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Chemical Warfare Essay

1335 words - 5 pages

Chemical warfare has a long history, dating back to ancient times. Chemical weapons have been used as an agent to try to leave as much devastation in it’s wake as possible. Today they are most commonly used by terrorists and political leaders as a means of forcing their ideals on to the peoples of their countries. Efficiency and precision are in the sights of today’s top militaries, leaving chemical warfare greatly frowned upon and unnecessary.
Although not much is recorded on the early uses of chemical warfare, It is noted that chemical warfare has been used as far back as 4th Century BC by the Indians who dipped their arrows in snake venom. This caused the opponent to become poisoned and eventually lead to their death. In the 5th Century BC during the Siege of Plataea the Spartans used a form of chemical warfare to drive away the Persians. By burning sulphur, a smoke was created which acted as an irritant causing a choking effect.
The first large scale uses of chemical warfare were World War 1 and Vietnam. On August of 1914 during the First World War Chemical Weapons were used. This use of them the largest use of chemical weapons ever recorded. An example of this use is by the French throwing tear gas grenades at their enemies. 1915 was the year that chemical warfare really kicked in. It started with the Germans using over 18,000 T-shells filled with chemicals on January 31. These kind of attacks continued on until the end of the War in 1918, with a death toll of over 85,000 soldiers and 1,175,000 injured due to chemical warfare. Weapons that were used ranged from chlorine and phosgene to mustard gas. These were the favorites of the war. Chemical warfare was used in the trenches of World War 1. Gases would fill the trenches and tunnels, thus they became useless .
During the Vietnam War the only largely used chemical agents were defoliants. The chemicals used were defoliants. These defoliants are color coded, consisting of Agents White, Blue, Orange, Purple, Pink and Green. At 20 - 50 times the normal concentration for killing plants, a total of about 19 million gallons were sprayed over Vietnam. These are chemicals that will eat at the jungle and the crops. One of the plans that we had with these defoliants was destroy the rice patties and other food sources to weaken and starve the enemy. Theses chemicals were also dumped on the dense area of the jungle to destroy any cover that the enemy had in these dense areas. “The toxicity of the main chemicals, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, degrade after a few days. However dioxin, a toxic chemical, does not deteriorate as quickly. Health Complications due to dioxin to this day is still a problem in Vietnam.”(Hammond, 2013, 1). The half-life of the dioxin is dependent on its location. In human bodies the half-life is 11–15 years, though it can be as high as 20 years. It’s half-life on the ground surface is usually 1 - 3 years dependent on location. But any that is deep within the surface or in the water can...

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