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View Full Version : What makes a weapon a “Chemical Weapon”?



JHotz
2005-Nov-15, 06:03 PM
What makes a weapon a “Chemical Weapon”? I assume virtually all weapons have a chemical component. Burning gunpowder, chemical explosives, chemically exploding projectiles, all use chemistry to be effective. What is it that makes a weapon a big bad Chemical Weapon?

Musashi
2005-Nov-15, 06:07 PM
A chemical payload, obviously.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-15, 06:13 PM
It is a chemical weapon if its primary means of harming a target is chemical effects on the human biochemistry. Bombs, explosives, and guns work primarily through kinetic energy, incendiary weapons work primarily through thermal energy. Something like nerve gas, however, works through interfering with the normal biochemistry of neurons. Mustard gas simply induces chemical burns. CS triggers responses through chemical effects as well. Something like lead or residue from certain explosives may have harmful chemical effects, but this is a secondary (and often undeseriged) effect and not the pimary means of doing harm. Even for Nuclear Weapons, the toxic chemical traces are usually undesired. Something like CS may be flammable, or CS grenades may hurt if you are hit with one, but such mechanisms are not the primary means with which it has its effect. Bioweapons also often work through chemical means (i.e. bacteria that produce toxins), but the difference is that the toxins are not released, the organism is released and it produces the toxins later. A dirty bomb is kind of bordering between chemical and nuclear weapons, since it does use toxic chemicals but they get their toxicity from their radioactivity.

JHotz
2005-Nov-15, 06:20 PM
A chemical payload, obviously.
Would that include high explosives, obviously?

Musashi
2005-Nov-15, 06:27 PM
No, that would be an explosive payload. Obviously.

JHotz
2005-Nov-15, 06:49 PM
Thank you for the clear and well written response Black Cat. It seems the perceived intent of the weapon use is the deciding factor. Would it be a chemical attack if a tank dispensed smoke near a insurgents hideouts air supply to choke them out?

JHotz
2005-Nov-15, 06:54 PM
No, that would be an explosive payload. Obviously.I guess you answers are all obvious because they contain the word obvious then.

Heid the Ba'
2005-Nov-15, 06:58 PM
Everyone move away from the word "obvious" and no-one will get hurt......

JHoltz: are you seeking a legal or moral distinction in their use, or are we simply looking for a semantic distinction?

LurchGS
2005-Nov-15, 07:01 PM
Thank you for the clear and well written response. It seems the perceived intent of the weapon use is the deciding factor. Would it be a chemical attack if a tank dispensed smoke near a insurgents hideouts air supply to choke them out?

I imagine that technically, it could be called a chemical attack.. but one of the factors involved in determining if an item is a chemical WEAPON is that chemical weapons have lingering effects. That is, if you walk across a field that's been subjected to a chemical attack - a week after the attack - you will feel some effect. I doubt tank exhaust would do that, even after a few minutes.

-------------

I CAN'T tread lightly, I'm in a tank!

01101001
2005-Nov-15, 07:02 PM
US Department of State: Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (http://www.state.gov/t/np/trty/16286.htm) (1993)


1. "Chemical Weapons" means the following, together or separately:

(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;

(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;

(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in subparagraph (b).

And it goes on to define "toxic chemicals", "precursors", "key components", etc., etc.

Moose
2005-Nov-15, 07:12 PM
(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;

Lead poisoning. ;)

JHotz
2005-Nov-15, 07:20 PM
Everyone move away from the word "obvious" and no-one will get hurt......

JHoltz: are you seeking a legal or moral distinction in their use, or are we simply looking for a semantic distinction?
I want to know it all.

Musashi
2005-Nov-15, 07:34 PM
I guess you answers are all obvious because they contain the word obvious then.

Obviously. :)

The effects of the payload determine the label. Explosive effects = explosive. Biological effects = biological. Chemical effects = chemical. Nuclear effects = nuclear.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-15, 07:35 PM
well, there's big Internet out there, just chock full of really cool information. B)

JohnD
2005-Nov-15, 10:38 PM
All,
I assume this is all referring to the allegation, in an Italian TV documentary and then by a columnist in the Guardian newpaper that in Fallujah, White Phosphorus munitions were used as a 'chemical weapon'. You can read George Monbiot's article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1642831,00.html .

To me, the 'chemical' is irelevant. A rifle may be a legitimate weapon of war, but not if you use fragmenting bullets, or use it to wound unarmed prisoners. As BC pointed out, it is the intention that is paramount.

Zyklon, the infamous agent used in Nazi Gas Chambers to murder Jews and others was invented as an insecticide. It was used to de-louse buildings in concentration camps, where it accidentally killed some prisoners, which was noted and it was developed into a mass murder weapon. This awful progression shows how something made as a harmless, even beneficial product can become an object of terror, a 'chemical weapon'.

To give an opinion on this use of white phosphorus wold be premature. The question should be decided by a court, civil or martial, where all the facts can be presented. As long as the court is impartial.
John

zebo-the-fat
2005-Nov-15, 11:53 PM
Would setting dogs on trespassers be classed as using a biological weapon?

LurchGS
2005-Nov-16, 12:15 AM
I agree with JohnD - the determination as to whether Willie Pete was used is not for us to decide. If necessary, an impartial investigation could be conducted.

However, describing WP as a 'chemical' weapon is inaccurate at best, misleading at worst. WP is an incindiary/illumination round, and it burns off very quickly. Yes, it's nasty as all get out if it gets on you, but your buddies don't need to worry about it if they were missed.
And for certain, 5 minutes after the round is discharged, WP will have no further direct affect on anybody in the drop zone.
'
Chemical weapons (as normally described) have a lingering effect, making the site unsafe for normally dressed individuals for a fair bit of time. I'd hesitate to cross a battle zone within months of any given chemwep. They're also designed to wipe out large segments of a population.

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 12:18 AM
The British Army also uses WP grenades, but we have signed Protocol 3 forbidding their use on humans as a flammable (not chemical) weapon. It is, however, still ok to use them as a smoke grenade. If you throw one into a foxhole with the intent of burning the occupants to death, you are breaking the law. If you throw one in with the intention of smoking out your enemy so you can shoot him, it is ok.

Some other banned weapons are flamethrowers, fuel air explosives, shotguns and lasers. Any weapon which is designed, or is likely to cause, excess injuries (rather than just killing the person) is banned.

I can't remember which Treaty all of these apply to, but as far as I recall the US is not a signatory to it.

Joff
2005-Nov-16, 12:18 AM
It seems to me that, smoke notwithstanding, WP fired at people is a thermal weapon, not a chemical weapon. Its principal action is to burn rather than poison.

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 12:24 AM
Oh, an addendum: Chemical weapons are split in 2 categories - persistant and non-persistant. Persistant weapons remain for a long duration, examples being VX and Tabun. Non-persistant includes Hydrogen Cyanide, which dissipates in minutes.

Chemical weapons are horrible things, but they are actually not too effective on a prepared armed force. The only real problem is that NBC suits are cumbersome, so everything takes a bit longer than normal. Deadly against civilians though. It is a weapon of fear, rather than effect. Bio weapons are much nastier, although less likely to be used as they are very difficult to control, especially the viral rather than bacterial versions.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-16, 12:28 AM
T
Some other banned weapons are flamethrowers, fuel air explosives, shotguns and lasers. Any weapon which is designed, or is likely to cause, excess injuries (rather than just killing the person) is banned. .


I don't recall if the US is signatory either, but I do admit I find this rule perplexing in the extreme. It's ok to kill somebody, but NOT ok to wound/maim deliberately. It just boggles the mind.

---------

all of you who would rather be dead than maimed, hold up your hand

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 12:34 AM
It is to do with prolonging the suffering. Injuries are a part of war, but causing long lasting suffering is classed as torture. For that reason battlefield lasers like target designators (which can blind without killing) are banned from use against people.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-16, 12:40 AM
Hrmm - ok, I understand the reasoning - I'll just opt to disagree with it.

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 12:45 AM
I didn't make the rules! Can you name any international treaty which completely makes sense?

Speaking personally, if the options were

A: Die quickly without suffering, or
B: Suffer for a long time before dying anyway

then I would take A. Personal choice.

Laminal Cockroach
2005-Nov-16, 12:55 AM
It is to do with prolonging the suffering. Injuries are a part of war, but causing long lasting suffering is classed as torture. For that reason battlefield lasers like target designators (which can blind without killing) are banned from use against people.
Would two enemies really sign like a deal, " OK these are the weapons we're allowed to use, they're fast efficient and will kill our guys almost instantly, Ok fight....!! Too Late, ! I Win"

LurchGS
2005-Nov-16, 12:58 AM
it would depend upon the degree of suffering, ne? I suffer every day from asthma and arthritis and having to deal with large obnoxious corporations. I'd LIKE to think that blindness, missing limbs, etc would not deter me from my chosen career (annoying my wife).

I'd have to be in a LOT of pain in order to prefer death

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 12:59 AM
Would two enemies really sign like a deal, " OK these are the weapons we're allowed to use, they're fast efficient and will kill our guys almost instantly, Ok fight....!! Too Late, ! I Win"

It goes both ways though - what about battlefield medics?

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-16, 01:54 AM
The problem is, the other guy generally doesn't abide by the rules. He'll kill medics. He'll use torture. So he has an advantage.

Moose
2005-Nov-16, 02:34 AM
The problem is, the other guy generally doesn't abide by the rules. He'll kill medics. He'll use torture. So he has an advantage.

That's not an advantage.

"To win the war only to lose the peace." - unknown attribution.

A cursory study of history will show many examples of what came to be known as a Pyrrhic victory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory). Without being any more specific than this, I would say that history is likely to show that we're seeing one developping right now.

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 02:39 AM
The problem is, the other guy generally doesn't abide by the rules. He'll kill medics. He'll use torture. So he has an advantage.


True, in some cases.

Soldiers (I make a distinction between Soldiers and Militia) are less likely to kill medics - at the back of the mind is always the worry that you might need their skills yourself!

Torture gives no advantages - people are more likely to fight to the death if they fear torture after surrendering. See the casualty rates for the Eastern Front, 1941-1945. Russia wasn't a signatory to the convention, and that conflict turned out to be one of the most horrific in centuries.

Edit: forgot quote

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-16, 02:53 AM
Moose: I meant they have a strictly military advantage. Certainly there are moral considerations as well. But if the enemy has no qualms about using, say, land mines but we do, they aren't going to run into any minefields while we will. So while we gain a moral victory, it makes a military victory more difficult. I guess I'm just saying that it's a trade-off.

Philip A: You're right. I just used those two examples as, well, examples. A better one might be an enemy using a laser to blind your pilots. That gives an immediate advantage to the enemy, in a military sense, if not a moral one.

Moose
2005-Nov-16, 03:30 AM
Moose: I meant they have a strictly military advantage. Certainly there are moral considerations as well.

Sun Tzu would suggest that the wise general does not consider these separately. In fact, of the five constants he identified that must always be considered in war, he listed Moral Law first and Tactics/Logistics last.

I myself am content to point out that neither can exist in isolation.

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 03:34 AM
Sun Tzu would suggest that the wise general does not consider these separately. In fact, of the five constants he identified that must always be considered in war, he listed Moral Law first and Tactics/Logistics last.

Only if you translate Moral Law to be psychological warfare or the casus belli. Sun Tzu was a pragmatist first and foremost.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-16, 03:48 AM
I would argue that morality comes into play in the political situation seperate from the war. Tactics and strategy deal with the war directly. Obliterating an enemy nation with nuclear weapns is very good strategically, but very bad politically.

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 03:51 AM
Carl von Clausewitz said it best

"War is merely the continuation of policy by other means"

JHotz
2005-Nov-16, 06:01 AM
It seems the delivery system is the real culprit. Since the weapons kill on contact they must be delivered in a manner that promotes bodily contact with the recipient. This same necessity makes them largely inefficient, ineffective and abhorrent to the audience of war. What about a more efficient delivery system?

Toxic darts
Poison food or water
Landmines and bombs with toxic fragments.

Lianachan
2005-Nov-16, 08:57 AM
Develoment in the "US used WP in Iraq" story.

BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4440664.stm)

Summary:

Yes, the US used WP in Falluja.

This is something they have previously denied.

It's not a chemical weapon, it's an incendiary one.

Use of WP is against Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

US has not signed Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Moose
2005-Nov-16, 12:15 PM
Only if you translate Moral Law to be psychological warfare or the casus belli. Sun Tzu was a pragmatist first and foremost.

So am I.

And no, Sun Tzu didn't mean either of those things.


The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

He covers psychological warfare in the last two chapters of his book.

In chapter III, however, Sun Tzu emphasizes that:


[...]the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to beseige walled cities[...]

He reinforces this precedence throughout the book, citing economic reasons for the most part.

Cylinder
2005-Nov-16, 01:46 PM
Use of WP is against Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

This is simply not the case. Protocol III (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/int/convention_conventional-wpns_prot-iii.htm) bans certain uses of incendiary agents but does not ban them outright.


It is further prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by means of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered incendiary weapons, except when such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken with a view to limiting the incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.

Lianachan
2005-Nov-16, 02:07 PM
This is simply not the case. Protocol III (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/int/convention_conventional-wpns_prot-iii.htm) bans certain uses of incendiary agents but does not ban them outright.

I knew I shouldn't have said anything apart from just place the link.

:wall:

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-16, 09:23 PM
Would two enemies really sign like a deal, " OK these are the weapons we're allowed to use, they're fast efficient and will kill our guys almost instantly, Ok fight....!! Too Late, ! I Win"Your cynicism is unjustified, in this case. Mustard gas was used in WWI, but it was such an ugly weapon that, AFAIK, no one used it in WWII, at least in Europe.

genebujold
2005-Nov-16, 10:29 PM
What about a payload of pheremones that caused everyone to violate their religious beliefs by engaging in some sort of an orgy? Would that constitute a chemical weapon?

Swift
2005-Nov-16, 10:34 PM
What about a payload of pheremones that caused everyone to violate their religious beliefs by engaging in some sort of an orgy? Would that constitute a chemical weapon?
That's not a chemical weapon, that's a party. :dance:

Philip A
2005-Nov-16, 11:33 PM
Moose
"The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger."

Is breaking this accord not psychological warfare?

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-17, 12:51 AM
What about a payload of pheremones that caused everyone to violate their religious beliefs by engaging in some sort of an orgy? Would that constitute a chemical weapon?
I have heard rumors that the US is working on just such a weapon, actually. I don't remember where I heard it, though.

Van Rijn
2005-Nov-17, 01:18 AM
I have heard rumors that the US is working on just such a weapon, actually. I don't remember where I heard it, though.

Is there anything solid on human pheromones? I've read science fiction stories on pheromone weapons, but everything I've seen in the general press is that we really don't have much information on human pheromones and our reaction to such would likely be very limited and subtle at best.

Philip A
2005-Nov-17, 01:25 AM
The US is working on a lot of non-lethal weapon systems, some battlefield and some riot control. Some of them may even work! I have seen fairly good results from a 'silly string' riot control stuff. Turns riot police into Spidermen, without the wall climbing, obviously.

I heard they were looking at the feasibility of a pheromone weapon, but weren't getting far. And yes, this probably would be classed as a biological/chemical weapon. I'm not sure though, as it wouldn't kill anyone.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-17, 02:19 AM
CS gas, when used correctly, doesn't kill anyone. But it's still a chemical weapon. So I'd guess the pheremones would fall under the same distinction.

Van Rijn
2005-Nov-17, 02:21 AM
Fine, but I'd like to see some evidence that there actually are human pheromones that could be used in a weapon.

Philip A
2005-Nov-17, 02:27 AM
Fine, but I'd like to see some evidence that there actually are human pheremones that could be used in a weapon.

Agreed - that there are human pheromones I believe, but a scent for 'rage' or 'lust'? Not so sure on that!

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-17, 02:34 AM
Yeah, that's kind of doubtful.

Moose
2005-Nov-17, 03:18 AM
Agreed - that there are human pheromones I believe, but a scent for 'rage' or 'lust'? Not so sure on that!

Penn and Teller (on their first season sex episode) did a double-blind experiment with a number of bit-actresses helping to "read" in a male lead for a fictional part, twin actors appearing in random order, sprayed with either a "pheromone"-based cologne or a control scent.

Turns out the pheromones had no effect whatsoever on which actor the women thought "had more animal magnitism", but rather they thought without exception that the second twin was hotter.

My impression was that the women didn't quite know what to expect on the first run, got over the surprise, and were willing to "get into the role" on the second read. The scent appeared to have no bearing on the results.

Moose
2005-Nov-17, 03:21 AM
Moose
"The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger."

Is breaking this accord not psychological warfare?

Yes, and some even think that this works, despite millenia of history that shows that these sorts of shenanigans almost invariably backfire. Dramatically.

Philip A
2005-Nov-17, 03:30 AM
Yes, and some even think that this works, despite millenia of history that shows that these sorts of shenanigans almost invariably backfire. Dramatically.

I think that really depends on how far you go back in history. There have been a number of incidences (although I can't actually think of any just now!) where an unpopular ruler has been overthrown/defeated by the failure of his maintaning the goodwill of the people.

Difficult to do, but as your Sun Tzu quote points out "the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans".

Cylinder
2005-Nov-17, 04:24 AM
The US Army produced BZ gas (http://www.thewednesdayreport.com/articles/research/weapons_of_mass_destruction-BZ.htm) (3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, "Agent Buzz") during the 1960 and subsequently destroyed their stocks in the mid 1980s. My father helped design the destruction line at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and suffered a fairly serious exposure to the agent.

BZ is a non-lethal hallucinogenic agent that incapacitates by causing profound disorientation and hallucinations. It is banned by treaty and was never seen as effective because of its unpredictable effects.

After his exposure, my dad came home feeling a bit nauseated which quickly turned to full-blown trip mode. He carried a card which identified the symptoms and we took him to the hospital for the antidote and what had to be a very strange night in the psychiatric ward.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Nov-17, 05:18 AM
Some other banned weapons are flamethrowers, fuel air explosives, shotguns and lasers. Any weapon which is designed, or is likely to cause, excess injuries (rather than just killing the person) is banned.



My shotgun is my favorite weapon. I don't leave home without it.

Philip A
2005-Nov-17, 05:24 AM
I suspect your local police would be upset if you used it on humans!

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Nov-17, 05:29 AM
They wouldn't mind if I used it on someone who needed killing.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-17, 05:30 AM
Er... you do mean in self-defense or in defense of a third party, without intention to kill, right?

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Nov-17, 05:37 AM
Aside from my photography, I also have a small home business dealing in firearms. People often will come to me, wanting to buy a hand gun for home defense. Unless they are very competent with guns and are willing to practice on at least an occasional basis, I encourage them to buy a shotgun instead. A shotgun is much easier to get on target, much more likely to kill or incapacitate the bad guy, and much less likely to penetrate their house walls and hit the neighbor next door. I keep several at hand in various places around the house, and one in my truck.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Nov-17, 05:44 AM
Er... you do mean in self-defense or in defense of a third party, without intention to kill, right?

Well I would never use it against a human unless I intended to kill them. Shooting to wound is not a good self defense strategy.

I hope that I do not have to ever shoot anyone, but I would if it was necessary to defend myself or someone else. I've been shot at before, when I was unarmed. That sucked.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Nov-17, 05:46 AM
What makes a weapon a “Chemical Weapon”? I assume virtually all weapons have a chemical component. Burning gunpowder, chemical explosives, chemically exploding projectiles, all use chemistry to be effective. What is it that makes a weapon a big bad Chemical Weapon?
I've got some weapons grade horseradish growing in the back yard.

Cylinder
2005-Nov-17, 06:45 AM
What makes a weapon a “Chemical Weapon”?

To answer the OP, the ICRC definition can be found in Article II of their Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction of 1993 (http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/553?OpenDocument)


DEFINITIONS AND CRITERIA

For the purposes of this Convention:

1. "Chemical Weapons" means the following, together or separately:

(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;

(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;

(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in subparagraph (b).

2. "Toxic Chemical" means:

Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.

(For the purpose of implementing this Convention, toxic chemicals which have been identified for the application of verification measures are listed in Schedules contained in the Annex on Chemicals.)


The Annex on Chemicals does not seem to be available on the ICRC site.

JHotz
2005-Nov-17, 07:07 AM
I just don’t get what makes the class of weapons so bad. It seems to me poison projectiles would be more humane than kinetic ones. Why not just ban the use of poison gas if that is what is so bad?

Philip A
2005-Nov-17, 07:13 AM
I just don’t get what makes the class of weapons so bad. It seems to me poison projectiles would be more humane than kinetic ones. Why not just ban the use of poison gas if that is what is so bad?

At the time (and even now, I guess) the cost of manufacturing poison filled bullets outweighs the 'benefits' of using them. The 'Any equipment' section of the bill was just to prevent further development. Abhorrent things anyway, we're better off without them.

JHotz
2005-Nov-17, 08:07 AM
At the time (and even now, I guess) the cost of manufacturing poison filled bullets outweighs the 'benefits' of using them. The 'Any equipment' section of the bill was just to prevent further development. Abhorrent things anyway, we're better off without them.Just stretch the frog and tape him over your gun barrel. Seriously if you had the antidote you cause you opponent to surrender to receive it.

Moose
2005-Nov-17, 12:05 PM
I think that really depends on how far you go back in history. There have been a number of incidences (although I can't actually think of any just now!) where an unpopular ruler has been overthrown/defeated by the failure of his maintaning the goodwill of the people.

Yes, but I was referring to popular uprisings orchestrated by third parties. It's clearly not the "psychological warfare" under discussion when the unpopularity is entirely due to the actions and/or neglect of the monarch/despot/guy-in-the-big-hat.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-17, 01:17 PM
I just don’t get what makes the class of weapons so bad.They kill people?


It seems to me poison projectiles would be more humane than kinetic ones.There are many ways to die poisoned. They're not all as quiet and elegant as in a movie star who takes too many sleeping pills.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-17, 09:01 PM
A brief study of the use of gas during WWI would clear up what's so bad about it--for a start, quite a lot of people who were gassed didn't die, but instead lived, scarred and in great pain--often blinded as well. Many of those who did die, took time to die. Awful, awful stuff.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-17, 09:16 PM
They kill people?

nope - lots of non-prohibited things kill people. The reason chemical/biological are banned is because the are A) area effect weapons and B) essentially uncontrollable. There's no way to keep the weapon from wandering off the battlefield and into a neighboring country, killing indiscriminantly.



There are many ways to die poisoned. They're not all as quiet and elegant as in a movie star who takes too many sleeping pills.

there are at least as many ways to die without being poisoned - the *method* is not in question, but the controlability (is that a word?) is.

------

always stand upwind in a battle

JohnD
2005-Nov-17, 09:22 PM
ED,
Well done!
Your post first made me cross - such unbridled agression - then suspicious.

I was right, you achieve today's irony award!
Eoanthropus Dawsoni=Piltdown man, the biggest hoax in anthropology!

John

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-17, 10:03 PM
Originally Posted by
They kill people?nope - lots of non-prohibited things kill people. The reason chemical/biological are banned is because the are A) area effect weapons and B) essentially uncontrollable. There's no way to keep the weapon from wandering off the battlefield and into a neighboring country, killing indiscriminantly.


There are many ways to die poisoned. They're not all as quiet and elegant as in a movie star who takes too many sleeping pills.there are at least as many ways to die without being poisoned - the *method* is not in question, but the controlability (is that a word?) is.
And then there's that tiny little issue of morality.

genebujold
2005-Nov-17, 11:09 PM
Chemical weapons are banned because they're difficult to control. They have a decided tendancy to kill non-combatants, and as such are banned by the Geneva conventions adopted after World War I in response to the mustard gas used then.

The U.S. had a secret chemical weapons program for years thereafter, but abandoned it and has been routinely destroying it's stockpiles over the years.

Pencils can kill people, as can about half of all modern conveniences and appliances.

Not to get morbid, but let's get real:

kitchen knives

household poisens, which, given a bit of knowledge, can be mixed into a very lethal brew

guns (duh)

bottles

Bottem line is that it doesn't take much to kill another person.

The good news is that by and large our society is full of people who either have no desire or no knowledge of how to do so!

Unlike everyday items which can be used to kill others, however, chemical weapons are fairly easily developed and can have drastic results involving the large-scale loss of human life, most of which is usually civilian, or if military, usually migrates toward's civilian losses. It's this indiscriminant nature which is behind world-wide banning of chemical weapons.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-17, 11:22 PM
Chemical weapons are banned because they're difficult to control.Out of curiosity, has that been officially stated, somewhere?

Philip A
2005-Nov-18, 12:35 AM
Unlike everyday items which can be used to kill others, however, chemical weapons are fairly easily developed and can have drastic results involving the large-scale loss of human life, most of which is usually civilian, or if military, usually migrates toward's civilian losses. It's this indiscriminant nature which is behind world-wide banning of chemical weapons.

Creating the compounds is easy enough to do, the difficulty is how to deliver them to your target. Standard artillery shells were used in the past, but a lot of the agents were destroyed by the explosion of the shell itself. The 'best' way of delivery is by low flying attack aircraft with crop duster type tanks fitted, with the danger of your aircraft being shot down by the enemy.

All in all, and as I pointed out earlier in the thread, they are not too useful against enemy troops (with AA defences, NBC equipment etc) but are devastaing against civilians. For this reason alone they should be banned.

My big worry is CW in the hands of terrorists. Remember the Aun Shinryo Kyu in Tokyo used Sarin (nasty nerve gas) in the underground railway, and the 9/11 attackers were training as crop dusters.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-18, 01:30 AM
And the Tokyo attacks were very simply delivered. They had bags full of liquid Sarin and they just rolled them under a subway seat and poked a hole in them. Simple as that.

Gsquare
2005-Nov-18, 01:42 AM
What makes a weapon a “Chemical Weapon”? I assume virtually all weapons have a chemical component..... What is it that makes a weapon a big bad Chemical Weapon?

Very simple....Its a chemical weapon if it was made in Iraq by Saddam. ;)

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-18, 01:58 AM
And the Tokyo attacks were very simply delivered. They had bags full of liquid Sarin and they just rolled them under a subway seat and poked a hole in them. Simple as that.
As I recall, that attacks on Tokyo, although excellent from a terror perspective, were not vey successful in terms of loss of life (thankfully).

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-18, 02:05 AM
Quite true. But the point is that the distribution system does not need to be perfect or sophisticated for the stuff to work. It's just that dangerous.

Philip A
2005-Nov-18, 02:25 AM
Quite true. But the point is that the distribution system does not need to be perfect or sophisticated for the stuff to work. It's just that dangerous.

True. However, if you want it to be an effective weapon you want to deliver it to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-18, 04:07 AM
Delivering it isn't enough. It has to be delivered at high enough concentrations for a long enough period of time to have the desired effect on the targets.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-18, 06:12 AM
Delivering it isn't enough. It has to be delivered at high enough concentrations for a long enough period of time to have the desired effect on the targets.


Y'all need to consider this - the military has quite different goals from terrorists. Military goals are designed to drive the enemy government to capitulation by rendering the opposing armed forces useless.

The terrorist knows he can't fight a true battle, so try to get the enemy government to capitulate by terrifying the populace to such an extent that THEY cause the government to give in.
The purpose of terrorist attacks aren't to kill thousands of people (though some do), it's to put Joe Public in the position of saying "oh my god, that could have been me, the government needs to do such and so to protect me"
Ergo, it does't really matter if a terrorist attack kills 1 or 1000 (or more). The point is that the attack comes where we feel safest (home, work, on the bus)

In many countries, terror has the desired effect (example: Spain, France...) but the effect was different here in the states- here it just made it darn near impossible for normal people to travel. (anybody who knows anything about security can tell you that none of the steps taken after 911 had any meaningful effect on stopping hijackers)

--------------

we are never so vulnerable whan when we are safest

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-18, 03:55 PM
In many countries, terror has the desired effect (example: Spain, France...) [...]What are you talking about?

Sleepy
2005-Nov-19, 12:57 AM
What are you talking about?The Madrid bombings followed by the defeat of the Spanish government in the following general election.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-19, 12:59 AM
in both countries, recently, terrorist attacks caused the government to stop doing something (like supplying soldiers to the war in Iraq).

The respective goveernments may have been intending to do so anyway, but the public perception, which is what's important here, is one of cause and effect

Fortis
2005-Nov-19, 02:18 AM
Just thought that I'd mention one of the more bizarre bio-weapon facts. Botulinium toxin (botox) which is used for cosmetic facelifts is also classed as a bio weapon. (IIRC, it is the most toxic substance that we know of...)

JHotz
2005-Nov-19, 03:50 AM
Just thought that I'd mention one of the more bizarre bio-weapon facts. Botulinium toxin (botox) which is used for cosmetic facelifts is also classed as a bio weapon. (IIRC, it is the most toxic substance that we know of...)Does it work as an aerosol or gas. How about a standard 223 caliber round consisting of many rice grain sized Botulinium darts. A prick on the hand would be lethal.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Nov-19, 01:12 PM
The Madrid bombings followed by the defeat of the Spanish government in the following general election.The Spanish government was not 'defeated'. The ruling party lost votes, and another one took its place. These things happen, in a democracy.


in both countries, recently, terrorist attacks caused the government to stop doing something (like supplying soldiers to the war in Iraq).The new Spanish government withdrew its support for the Iraq war because that was the will of the Spanish people, not because of what foreign terrorists 'wanted'.
As for France, I have no idea what you're talking about.


The respective goveernments may have been intending to do so anyway, but the public perception, which is what's important here, is one of cause and effectAnd on which polls do you base your perception of the Spanish people's 'perception' of their withdrawal from Iraq?

Wolverine
2005-Nov-19, 01:17 PM
Do not get into politics here. I won't say it again.

Cylinder
2005-Nov-19, 03:57 PM
Does it work as an aerosol or gas. How about a standard 223 caliber round consisting of many rice grain sized Botulinium darts. A prick on the hand would be lethal.

Botulinum toxin is bacterial in origin. The problem with delivering the bacterial agents via a weapon is dispersing it in a wide enough area to create the desired affect in a manner that does not destroy the toxin itself or the bacteria that produces it.

The practical problem with creating a .223 round like you describe would be creating the delivery mechanism in such a way that it has an acceptable shelf life, does not expose the soldiers deploying it and could survive the trip to the muzzle - probably not an easy task.

Something vaguely similar to the method you outlined was used to assassinate a Bulgarian dissident, Georgi Markoff, in London in 1978. The man was crossing the Waterloo Bridge by foot on his way home from work when he felt a sharp pain in his leg. He turned to see a man holding an umbrella and thought nothing really of it until he became violently ill a few days later and quickly died. During post-mortem, UK doctors (who already suspected assassination) found a 1mm hollow platinum sphere in the wound that carried an estimated 0.2 mg dose of ricin. This sphere was injected by a Bulgarian agent by means of a specially designed umbrella tip.

genebujold
2005-Nov-19, 04:19 PM
The Spanish government was not 'defeated'. The ruling party lost votes, and another one took its place. These things happen, in a democracy.

Which was decided by a people who just weeks before were hit hard by the train bombings.


The new Spanish government withdrew its support for the Iraq war because that was the will of the Spanish people, not because of what foreign terrorists 'wanted'.

That the new Spanish government even existed was due to the terror attacks. Pre-election polls before the bombings showed a marked difference in voter preference than they did afterwards, more than enough to swing the vote.

And that's what the terrorists wanted.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-19, 06:58 PM
Just thought that I'd mention one of the more bizarre bio-weapon facts. Botulinium toxin (botox) which is used for cosmetic facelifts is also classed as a bio weapon. (IIRC, it is the most toxic substance that we know of...)
There are several things about botulin. First, it is not stable when exposed to oxygen (Botulinium is an anaerobic bacteria). Over a period of a few days it will break down into a harmless chemical. That means that when used as a weapon, the area will be completely safe in a matter of days. The second is, last time I checked, botulin is the most powerful naturally occuring toxin known to man. A pound of it is enough to kill every human being on the planet (according to the Guiness Book of World Records).

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-19, 07:31 PM
Hm. I thought half a cup of ricin would be enough to kill everyone, making that the most powerful natural toxin.

Nereid
2005-Nov-19, 11:21 PM
Do not get into politics here. I won't say it again.It seems Wolverine's words were not clear enough.

From the BAUT forum rules (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=32864):
Due to the contentious nature of these subjects, forum participants are strongly advised to avoid discussing religious and political issues. Please don't begin or contribute to a topic that's merely going to incite or fuel a flame war.

This thread is closed.