Controlling Chemical And Biological Weapons Essay

1328 words - 5 pages

Controlling Chemical and Biological Weapons

History and Introduction

Chemical and biological weapons (CBWs) have been used over the ages as an effective means of warfare. The earliest incident of biological weapons (BWs) occurred in the third century B.C., when the Carthaginian leader Hannibal filled up pots with venomous snakes and threw them onto enemy ships. (Cirincione, 48) Since then, biological weapons have been used very infrequently. This is mainly due to enormous cost required to create and handle BW's (many of the groups who have attempted to create such weapons have ended up infecting themselves more often then their intended targets). (Henderson, 25) In contrast, chemical weapons have been used fairly frequently in warfare. The earliest example of chemical weapons comes from the Trojan War when the Greeks "mixed sulfur and pitch resin to engulf enemy troops in toxic fumes." (Cirincione, 51) More recently the Germans and the Allies of World War I utilized the capabilities of chlorine gas in order to asphyxiate their enemies.(Slotten, 478) These weapons are thought to have been employed more frequently because they are more "humane" than biological or traditional weapons of war. Explains Capt. Alfred T Mahan of the U.S. Army after the Germans deployed chlorine gas during WWI, "the use of gases might make war more humane, instead of dying an agonizing death from horrible wounds, soldiers might be incapacitated by gas and then be humanely carted off to prisoner of war camps where they could quickly recuperate with no ill effects."(Slotten, 478) Though Mahan's rationale may be a little naïve, one can see why after the war there were many advocates for chemical weapons.

Since their application in WWI by both the Allies and the Germans, the world has witnessed how devastating chemical weapons can truly be. There now remains only a small number of advocates for such weapons, and even a fewer number of biological weapon advocates. In fact, there are currently 144 member states of the Biological Weapons and Toxin Convention and 145 members of the Chemical Weapons Convention. (Cirincione, 52) Still, as Robert Blitzer of the FBI explains, CBWs pose a major threat to modern society. "The consensus of people in law enforcement and intelligence communities is that it's not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's when. We are very concerned."(Henderson, 25) In the following I hope to explain why controlling the production CBWs has become a serious problem for law enforcement organizations around the world and what can be done to improve intelligence.


During the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union stockpiled biological and chemical weapons. Both sides chemical and biological weapons programs were overshadowed by their nuclear programs during the war, but the U.S. and the Soviet Union had decided they needed to pursue such programs in order "to deter the use of chemical (and biological) weapons by...

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