back to article Chemical weapons are not WMDs

I remember the last time I handled a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). It was in 2003, not long after the invasion of Iraq. I was serving as a bomb-disposal officer in the British armed forces. I was dressed in a full protective suit and gas mask, and a boffin from Porton Down stood next to me, likewise clad. The hot sun …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite the point...


    You make all the right points about the actual deadliness of chemical nerve agents, but I fear you miss the point of why people still call it a WMD (apart from the fact the Soviets always called anything NBC a WMD). They do it because it's something you cannot see, but deadly and hence will create panic and that the potential for mass casualties against civilians is there, especially for chlorine based attacks such as AQ has been launching against their ex-allies in Fallujah and Ramadi. Thankfully, Aum subscribed to the Hollywood notion that sarin just has to be in a bag which has been pierced to "kill everybody".

    Imagine someone with more brains letting off a chemical device at say a football match. Numbers killed directly might be in the dozens, but hundreds of deaths from crush injuries would follow from the panic that followed.

    I'd still say the WMD tag was justified.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great article

    This should be syndicated by every newspaper in the land to help dispel the myths !

  3. Kevin Hall

    Not right, exactly...

    First I don't think any serious organisation has ever compared the effects of chemical weapons to that of nuclear weapons and said they are comparable. As Lewis hasn't provided any references for this we'll have to take his argument as conjecture. Chemical weapons are, however, an indiscriminate weapon with such appalling effects it has been said that not even Hitler would use them on the battlefield. You could argue that they are not literally a weapon of mass destruction like an atomic weapon as they are more harmful to humans than property; neither mustard gas or sarin will level a city but given its effects on people the UN did classify sarin as a weapon of mass destruction under Security Council Resolution 687.

    I think what Lewis is doing is frankly reprehensible in trying to sanitise the effects of chemical weapons and flies in the face of just about all arms control efforts of the last thirty years. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972 explicitly includes biological and chemical weapons within the WMD framework - chemical weapons have been regarded as a WMD for decades and there is an extensive literature stretching back to at least the First World War detailing chemical attacks as indiscriminate and catastrophic. It is clear that chemical weapons fall in to the WMD distinction not least because they are just as applicable against non-combatants as they are on the battlefield, they cannot be targeted against anyone other than in the very loosest interpretation of the word. Signatory nation of the Third Geneva Convention in 1925 also agreed never to use gas again.

    It truly is vile for anyone to even attempt to trivialise the effects of chemical weapons - it's estimated poison gas injured over 1.1 million soldiers in the First World War, more than 45,000 casualties were caused during the Iran-Iraq war. I don't know what Lewis Page's agenda is other than trying to legitimise war or to characterise the peace movement as pinkos and tree-huggers. Either way there is nothing to legitimise the use of chemical weapons or any WMD, it's trying to soften us up for accepting a level of danger by degree that we would never accept in one go. It's trying to push us closer to crossing a threshold where WMD is considered a viable option which is totally contrary to the greater body of legal, ethical and moral opinion - we cross this line at our peril. Militarism is not the answer.

  4. Da Andersson

    WMD's or not


    Ts ts, you forgot to do your homework on this one!

    First - Chemical weapons are, as you correctly describe, not weapons of mass destruction. They are simply to complex to handle, complex delivery mechanisms and plain out dangerous to use and can hit back at yourself.


    These countries that have disbanded or decided not to use chemical weapons, or rather - only the "A" weapon in the "ABC" array of choices, they all declared that as they do not have "B" or "C" weapons, they will answer any such attack with the "A" solution.

    A=Atomic, B=Biological and C=Chemical.

    Even if the chemical weapons aren't WMD's, they are treated as such by political/military reasons.

    So back to your article. Yes, chemical weapons are not WMD's because of their "function" and behaviour but the chemical weapons are politically defined to be equal to WMD's and some nations will allow themselves to respond with any other WMD as a response.


    Because we do not want each little Mugabe in Africa and whoever in Asia to start using chemical or bio- weapons because they are cheap to develop - without being aware of the level or rather grade of retaliation!

    Bio's and Chem's are the poor nations atomic bombs and have to be treated as such!


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    World War I

    Isn't the fear of chemical weapons really down to the use of sulphur mustard in World War I?

    There are so many iconic images of servicemen who were blinded by the stuff being led around like children at a grim party. And mustard got a terrifying reputation because its effects weren't instant - the symptoms only came on hours if not days later and a person exposed to mustard could contaminate his friends just by being in the same room.

    Even those people who recovered from initial exposure went on to develop cancers and lung conditions, there were still veterans of World War I suffering from mustard in the 1980s. When you consider that and its amazing environmental persistance - it just gets into the soil, into bricks, into the water table and stays there - it's hard not to call mustard a WMD.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dulce Et Decorum Est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

    Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

    GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,

    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

    And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--

    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light

    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--

    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

    To children ardent for some desperate glory,

    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

    Pro patria mori.

    Wilfred Owen

  7. Martin Huizing

    You Sir are an idiot…

    …for saying chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction.

    Chemical weapons, as nuclear weapons, have the potential in becoming a weapon that destroys many lives in a short span of time.

    Try wearing your massive, heavy bomb-disposal armour in a nuclear storm. I’m sure you had a fun time trying to diffuse the nuke, thinking of all the fun stories to tell at those boring dinner parties, when it blew-up in your face. That’s about the same protection as people would have during a chemical attack not wearing a full protective suit.

    Under the right circumstances (weather, location, altitude, alignment), chemical weapons are WoMD and I’m sure you are a nice guy and a riot at those dinner parties, but to suggest otherwise makes you, in my book, an idiot.

    Kind regards,

    Martin Huizing

  8. Dillon Pyron

    Psychology and the chemical weapon

    Mr. Page has far more experience and expertise in both chemical and "conventional" weapons than I. However, he only hinted at the psychological effects. Imagine spending 12 hours in an NBC suit in the Kuwaiti desert. I have a friend who did exactly that. It's a great way to wear down an enemy. And the fear factor in populated areas is outstanding, as he pointed out. Over the years, movies have shown soldiers ten feet away from an explosion getting away unscathed. A 105 mm howitzer leaves a big hole and an even bigger kill radius. But dying a slow, strangling death is far scarier. Even though, as he points out, it just isn't likely.

    dillon in Tejas, who killed radar as a hobby

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weapons of Mass Torture

    You're correct; if it's large numbers you wish to kill, then conventional explosives do a larger and much faster job than chemical weapons. However, if you want to demoralize, incapacitate, and wound on a horrific scale, then chemical weapons are not a bad choice. Sulfur mustard (SM) is not all that lethal as chemical agents go; yet, an effective attack could leave thousands in need of urgent medical care. Furthermore, an appropriate medical effort requires effective decontamination, qualified personnel to deliver supportive treatment (there is no antidote), and weeks of time for the injured to recover. SM affects those exposed in a cruel way - by blistering the skin (and lungs when enhaled as a vapor); the thinner the skin, as in genitourinary regions, and the longer the agent is held against the skin by clothes, the more painful the blisters.

    The human cost of such an attack is destructive - instantaneous lethality is not a requirement for a weapons system to have massively destructive effects.

  10. Stephen Jones

    Wow, people really do have their heads up their arses on this one

    Chemical weapons are as bad as people think because they'll create mass panic because people think they're bad? Seriously people, calm down, take a breath and switch your brain on.

    A chemical weapon going off in your face will kill you, a stick of dynamite going off in your face will kill you. Neither will kill you from a mile away. Dirty bombs won't either so you can forget that fantasy. As for 1.1 million deaths in WWII, if the terrorists herd you into a big room for 'a shower', it might be time to worry. Until then, sleep well, there are no terrorists under your bed.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those who are using terrorism to say he's offbase...

    "Imagine someone with more brains letting off a chemical device at say a football match. Numbers killed directly might be in the dozens, but hundreds of deaths from crush injuries would follow from the panic that followed."

    Imagine someone with more brains lobbing a hand grenade at say a football match. Do you really think there would be *any* difference in either the direct casualties or the panic?

    Lewis has a point. These are scary bugaboos, and there is incentive to make it more scary (than, say, conventional area-denial minefield cluster bombs or area artillery strikes, which are legal). But as far as sheer number of casualties, and protection required to avoid being a casualty, go, chemical weapons are no better and not much worse than conventional high explosive or fragmentation shells. The type of casualties, and the quality of life for the survivors and death for the mortally wounded, however, are (on average) much uglier. Also, since the world doesn't have the same kind of experience with chemical weapons, it looks and feels more terrifying than the well-understood mangled bodies that come from HE.

    Do I like this? No. Is it accurate? Yes.

  12. Shad


    It would seem the key here is once again semantics rules over logic and education.

    One fellow mentioned references... in academia there are a two valid of reference (source) types: Primary and Secondary.

    A primary source is from an authority or expert in the area of expertise. The one with the relevant knowledge. This source does not require references, as it is the reference.

    A secondary source would be a non-authority researcher/analyst. They reference primary source material.

    In this case, the author of this article is a Primary Source.

    Now, it would seem most of you have failed to comprehend the main point of the article. The fear factor from chemical weapons is not based on reality, but by fear mongering. Mass Hysteria over a ghost.

    As I am also a "Primary Source" (I was a weapons specialist in the CAF). I also know a few things about EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) and NBCW.

    I myself have sat for days in NBCW gear, I myself have lived under the threat of attack with these weapons.

    To be frank, I do not recall ever fearing them. I feared bombs, I feared shells and mortars, I feared madmen with guns... but never a chemical attack. Why? For exactly they reasons ascribed by the author. There is no need to. They are a propaganda weapon (trench warfare in WW1 is a very different scenario than the reality of your lives today).

    As a wise man once said: All you have to fear is fear itself.

    Thats is the real power of this type of weapon, and many of the people here are actually the ones pulling the trigger.

    Get educated, then get smart.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tell it to the thousands of dead of Halabja.

    I'm sure they'll find it a great comfort that they weren't murdered by a WMD and that thousands of deaths doesn't constitute mass destruction.

  14. Alan Wong

    Can't believe your credentials

    Seriously, you tell people just enough to prove your point but you don't give any information people can use to check if you are right. I'm not even going to talk about your insanity for making chemical weapons seem so harmless. I think the fact is that you worked in a bomb disposal unit and that's all you did without being trained to understand them. So what type of protective suit did you wear? What level? What type of exact chemical weapons did you handle? I can definitely say that if they played with "chemical weapons" in a public allowed area then they are basically just playing because they are not authorized to use lethal chemical weapons in public areas. And if just so you know most military gear is level C chemical suits which in reality only protects up to a certain number of well known chemical agents. The filters are easily destroyed within a short period of time as the chemical will corrode it and it only can filter up to a certain size of air particles. Anything smaller will get through. Death by chemical agents is not a pretty sight. Next time try wearing a level C suit in a non-public zone where your boys play with their real stuff and let's see what yo would say.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Invoking WWI would seem to validate this article:

    Of the 8.5 million killed and the 22 million wounded in WWI only 1.1 were by chemical attack (using original post as reference). Surely this illustrates the point nicely, the conventional weaponry accounted for far more deaths.

    If you are looking for America's Next Top Enemy, perhaps searching for chemical weapons is not a good indicator of potential threat. A mass of conventional weaponry is more potent.

    Even if you are planning the next terrorist outrage a chemical weapone would seem to be a slightly foolish way to go about it; leaving a couple of block of RDX or C4 in a rucksack on a train in rush hour would do the job just was well.

    Overall, yes chemical weapons are nasty, especially when you are not expecting them but probably not as nasty as a bullet to the head or a massive explosion that dismembers you in short order.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is everyone so scared ?

    Drop an HE bomb 100 yards from me, I die, straight away

    Drop a chemical/dirty bomb 100 yards from me, I MAY die.

    The problem is that the fear of chemical/biological is far greater because we fear the the uncertainty and the possibility of a lingering and painful death.

    We are all human, the possibilty of a slow painful death scares us and the media and the government take full advantage of that.

  17. Tim

    Fear is not a WMD

    The article has made a point I've been aware of for a while. The way the media tags something and the whole world follows. Chemical weapons are not anything like the scale of a nuclear weapon and shouldn't be labled with the same title.

    Some comments have mentioned about how the fear and demoralisation make up for the lack of actual weight for weight devestation

    Surely then a man standing up in a football stadium that shows a bomb everyone and says this is a chemical weapon just before detination, would have to be called a WMD because it instills the same fear. So are regular explosives now WMD's if people think they're chemical?

    Weapon of Mass Destruction.

    Not "Weak (relatively) Mid-distance Deadliness" or anything else you can think of. The clue is in the name "MASS" which means lots. Heartless as it sounds a few hundered people per attack is nothing compared to the thousands and thousands a single small nuke could so easily manage.

    Yes they're nasty, and I wouldn't want to be caught in one, or see the victims afterwards. But I wouldn't like to be shot or hit with an axe either, it doesn't make them WMD's.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Veteran Believes This Nonsense

    How cheap this moronic dolt must consider humanity.

    Does Saddam's "mass infliction" not count as "destruction" because "only" people were destroyed?

    Mass destruction of infrastructure is not the goal of neutron bombs. They cook people but leave buildings intact. So by the idiotic author's definition, they don't qualify as WMD, either, because "only" people get destroyed.

  19. Chris Bradshaw

    Let's define WMD properly

    I would define WMD as weapons which kill or injure without regard to whether the victim is a fair target (combatant) or not. Rather than remove chemical and biological weapons from the WMD category, I would add High Explosive to it...

    In fact, I think war would be very much more humane if machine guns were banned too, and even perhaps rifles... How many children were 'accidently' killed by soldiers with swords, in the days before gunpowder??? At least they wouldn't have the excuse of 'collateral damage'...

    And (given that we are talking nonsense anyway), let's make the politicians fight it out themselves, rather than using young soldiers as proxies. I would love to see Bush and Kim Jong Il or Blair and Hussein fight it out in an arena with swords... It's a win-win :-)

  20. Kevin Turner

    RE Why is everyone so scared ?

    Drop an HE bomb 100 yards from me, I die, straight away.

    - Indeed, you most likely would.

    Drop a chemical/dirty bomb 100 yards from me, I MAY die.

    - Indeed you may, but first you will probably come into contact with other people, who may then die - but probably not before coming into contact with other people...

    You're argument is poorly constructed. The delivery method of a so-called WMD seems to be irrelevant, more the level of destruction caused. Even that, as someone has pointed out, is really in the realms of semantics.

  21. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Some people seem to want to miss the point !

    It seems that people WANT to miss the point of the article !

    The author does not attempt to say that chemical weapons aren't 'bad', just that they are in reality not really that much worse than conventional explosive weapons. In all the scenarios people have raised to support the "chemical is bad" approach, you have to seriously ask what would have happened in the same situation had the attacker used explosives ? Would the effect have been all that much less overall ?

    You have to take all the political posturing in the context that the cold war has ended, politicians need a new enemy - and at the moment it's terrorists and "WMDs" where WMD is carefully not defined by the politicians. The key to getting your budgets and laws passed is to have a strong enemy - and a strong enemy has to be talked up as much as possible. WMD have to be taked up to ensure that the population lives in fear - so that the politicians can 'come to the rescue' with wars and laws to protect us from the baddies, and while they are at it, take more control over the population.

    Consider this : elected politicians talking up 'the threat', persuading the legislature that new laws are required to control 'the threat', locking people away on mere accusal of 'bad things' with no evidence whatsoever, etc, etc. Am I talking about 2007 in the 'free world' or 1930's in Germany ?

  22. Stuart


    A single MRLS firing cluster munitions can destroy _everything within one square kilometer in one salvo. That _is a weapon of mass destruction.

  23. Chris Barrett


    If chemical weapons are so useless how did Saddam manage to kill so many, so effectively, in Halabja, March 16, 1988? Overall more than 40 Kurdish villages were attacked. According to our 'expert' (who, to me, sounds very blase about the whole thing, which he shouldn't - Porton Down were cowboys before the 90's) death on such a scale should be impossible unless a totally disproportionate amount of chemicals were used.

    The other point which he fails to address, which is taught throughout the services during basic NBC training, is how chemical weapons come into their own when the attacking force wishes to take the enemy area without damaging it. Levelling an area may kill the enemy but all you win is the land it was built on. Maybe the army needs more property developers...?

  24. Nathan

    The Media

    Although chemical weapons are not actually classed as WMDs, the media picks up and demonises them because they don't have any practical experience, and it becomes the norm. The same thing happens with Hacker and Cracker, the former has been used out of context so much that it is now the norm. Also with Mass and Weight, I don't say I weigh 500N, but that's what it means.

    I think the author makes some very valid points about chemical weapons. Something like napalm or cluster bombs are much easier to kill people with, especially in crowded areas.

    About Saddam... it's not very difficult to kill people living in villages, hence called because they are small. He probably could have just sent a quick few shells or two men with some guns and done the job exactly the same. In my opinion, I think he was training his men for using them against a real enemy. When he realised they weren't as useful as conventional means, he didn't bother using them again, which would be why no chemical weapons were used against soldiers in Iraq.

  25. N1AK

    Unsuprising Reaction

    I find it hard to believe so many people missed the fact that far from saying chemical weapons aren't dangerous, the author simply pointed out that conventional weapons are MORE dangerous.

    In WWI which had the largest use of chemical weapons ever, casualties caused by conventional weapons are 10 times higher.

    And as to the 2,000 killed by Saddam (which ofcourse was a terrible act), this isn't even within an order of magnitude of the number who died to true WMD:

    The 140,000 in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki.

  26. Ian McNee

    Weapons of Mass Hysteria?

    A lot of the commentary on this article proves precisely the point that Lewis Page made so eloquently: that the majority of our media and politicians are promoting hysteria about chemical weapons on the basis of furthering their own narrow political agenda rather than on any hard analysis of the threat posed by 'terrorists' or 'insurgents' or 'freedom fighters' or whatever one chooses to call them.

    Although Lewis' article deals with technicalities to dispose of a few myths the issues are, and always have been, political. Why did Bush & Blair invade Afghanistan & Iraq (twice)? Is there a connection between these invasions plus western support for Israel and Islamicist anti-west terror? Is the continued occupation of Iraq and the anticipated military action against Iran likely solve the problems of the Middle East and stop terrorism? And so on.

    The way this plays out in Britain and the USA is provide cover for our governments' security agendas, attacks on civil liberties and the diversion of taxes from health/education/welfare to policing/security/military. Remember the much-vaunted but ultimately mythical exploding poison vest of Forrest Gate? I had expected a little better from El Reg readers given the excellent coverage of these topics by John Lettice and others.

  27. Sean Healey

    Mass Destruction

    I wonder if its worthwhile reminding those who continue to bang the 'Saddam the War Criminal' drum of a few salient points:

    Within not too many years of Saddams killing of a few thousand Kurds with chemical weapons (1988) - Rival Rwandan tribal militias committed genocide of over a million of their fellow countrymen with knives, clubs and an outdated collection of handguns and automatic weapons (1994).

    Despite this, no intervention of any kind was attempted by western governments in Rwanda.

    These same governments went on pursue Saddam to his destruction as he had apparently commited crimes against humanity through use of WMD against his own people.

    Put into context, WMD appears to be a tool of the political arena, rather than the military.

  28. Chris Barrett

    Deaths through chemical weapons

    The argument about whether chemical weapons are WMDs isn't necessarily about the numbers of people that it can kill but rather the fact that its indiscriminate and also not a 'nice' way to die - the slightly warped belief that it would be better to be killed from cluster bombs, land mines or phosphor grenades rather than a chlorine attack. Chemical weapons ARE a Weapon of Mass Destruction in that, theoretically, many people can die from one attack but are probably the least preferred WMD, assuming that you have access to nuclear or biological weapons too.

    Based on the criteria, should depleted uranium-tipped artillery shells not be classed as WMDs too?? Many are dying in Iraq from their use.

  29. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Objectivity and facts

    It is interesting, although unsurprising, that this comment thread once again reveals two distinct camps : the for and the against. There is no room for understanding, hardly any room for mitigation, and the against camp flings insults and disparaging comments as liberally as just about any Slashdot thread ever has.

    How do you people expect peace on Earth to ever happen if you can't accept that other people's opinions may just have some basis in truth, even if it is not your opinion ?

    This article says that a nuclear attack, or a conventional bombardment, is going to create a lot more deaths than any chemical attack could. Some responses contend that a man yelling "BOMB !!" in a stadium would be just as deadly due to the panic that ensues.

    While that may be true, I think that the argument is a red herring. The only thing the stadium argument proves would be that PANIC is a WMD, not the man. He would just be irresponsible, or criminally insane.

    One must compare things that are comparable. Any NBC manual will tell you that the lethality of a conventional attack ends at the moment the attack ends (no more explosions, no more deaths or injuries). The lethality of a chemical attack ends more or less in the seconds or minutes that follow the attack, when the active agent is either too dispersed to have any more effect, or has fallen to the ground and thus has its contact effect reduced to a minimum. The lethality of a nuclear attack ends after a few weeks, when the ambient radiation levels have gone back down to acceptable levels (outside Ground Zero of course).

    Add to that the fact that, be it conventional or chemical, you more or less have to have enough ordinance to cover the area you want to target, whereas a nuclear attack never needs more than one bomb to "cover" a vastly more important area of effect.

    These are the arguments that are in favor of somewhat diminishing the importance of chemicals as WMDs.

    On the other hand, while a man being vaporised by a nuclear flash is something impressive, it is hardly as disturbing as viewing a person in intense pain, covered with boils and ugly skin burns, not to mention the possible regurgitations or evacuation of body fluids or matter that may accompany a chemical attack. Although I doubt that anyone posting here has actually seen a bullet wound, much less a headshot, these are concepts that are presented to us every day in the countless acts of violence liberally portrayed on TV, so we have accepted them. As for nukes, the general view outside of Japan is that such images are sought after for the thrill of seeing the flash and the fireball. Any sequence presenting the effects of a nuke (like the very good scenes in the Terminator trilogy) has a very good entertainment value, and almost no one has seen the images of the severe burns and other painful consequences of the Hiroshima survivors. It is telling that, sixty years after the event, most Japanese still have a Pavlov-type reaction to nuclear power in any form. Over there, any thing nuclear is BAD, all caps.

    In short, when seeing a nuclear blast, anyone but the densest of brutes can comprehend the WMD tag associated to it. The horrors of bombardment and conventional war have also been amply described by cinematic efforts that, for the past 60 years, have endlessly attempted to bring to us the viscerality of the slaughter that is a battlefield, be it with swords and shields, or tanks and guns.

    However, the chemical attack has one major difference : it attacks our body in ways that we find disgusting and disturbing. It disrupts our control of our body functions, it makes us bleed, writhe and scream, and can even modify our appearance in an impossibly painful melting process (if I rely on VX and The Rock as reference material). In other words, when witnessing the effects of a chemical attack, the level of empathy goes straight to our guts and takes an iron hold of our feelings. Do not forget that there are people that faint at the sight of a bleeding nose. The chemical attack has a terrible effect on our image of ourselves, and that makes people cringe even more.

    From a technical point of view, Lewis is obviously right. A chemical attack is a nuisance to put in place, a danger to its initiator and limited in its reach. However, the effectiveness of a chemical attack is not at all on the same level as a nuclear attack.

    From an emotional point of view, the chemical attack is far more disturbing on many more levels than a nuke, and that is why the international opinion rates chemicals as just as important as nukes, and that is also normal.

    Besides, you cannot break down a nuke into mini-explosions, whereas chemicals can be used in specific doses following what level of mayhem you wish to create. Pop a can of lethal airborn chemicals in a metro and you'll have mass panic once the effects start showing, panic that can easily create ten times the deaths the agent will.

    The chemical is just a catalyst, it is the panic that will kill most people, but that is hardly a comforting thought when you're the one gasping for air and coughing up your own lungs.


  30. Mike VandeVelde

    Agent Orange?

    All this talk about horrible deaths. How about hosing down Vietnam with Agent Orange in the 70s? The effects are still visible from the air. Or hosing down Columbia with Roundup today? Chemical weapons can cause mass destruction to the environment and kill many many people over the long term without any melting skin or vomiting of internal organs. To say that it's over once it hits the ground and doesn't pose any more immediate danger to people is assinine.

    If a few rusty chemical warheads turn up in Iraq and are labeled WMDs, while the "coalition of the willing" dusts the entire region with depleted uranium, I will laugh, and then I will cry. The country with the most nuclear / chemical / biological weapons in its arsenal, and the country who has used (and is using) the most nuclear / chemical / biological weapons, are one and the same, and the one the world should be the most worried about.

    And hey Lewis Page, how would you liked to have been a resistance fighter in Fallujah while white phosphorous rained down on you? I guess it wouldn't have been so bad as conventional high explosives eh? I guess that sure showed Saddam the error of his ways in Halabja too? Fcking sick.

  31. Robert Belcher

    Why did Bush & Blair invade Afghanistan & Iraq (twice)?

    Halabja + SCUD + Tel Aviv = Invasion.

This topic is closed for new posts.