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Background Information on Chemical and Biological Warfare

Chemical and biological agents have been used in warfare since ancient times, but during the early twentieth century we reached a point where chemical and biological warfare became to destructive to be tolerated any longer. The first World War showed us how, with modern science, chemical weapons could swiftly be employed indiscriminately against populations with devastating effects on civilians. The flu pandemic that began soon after the end of the war would end up claiming more lives in one year than the entire war, thanks to advances in transportation.

Though now chemical and biological agents are often grouped together, biological agents as modern weapons were not really considered until much more recently. The first effort to restrict the use of chemical weapons was born out of the first World War in the form of the Geneva protocol. The Geneva protocol was met with universal support and boasted over one hundred ratifying nations.

The Geneva protocol though contained several terminal flaws that were not uncovered until almost half of a century later. During the time when the United States was interfering in the Vietnamese civil war, the United States worked in a gray area and insisted that their practices were not in violation of the protocol. Among their practices that were questioned was the use of herbicides and defoliants in populated areas to remove ground cover that hid troops opposed to the United States occupation and the use of pepper spray and tear gas to subdue prisoners.

Another one of the flaws contained in the Geneva protocol was a lack of any means to ensure compliance with the protocol or to punish violations of the protocol. This flaw became evident during the conflict between Iran and Iraq during the most of the 1980’s. International observers found evidence that chemical weapons were being used to no small degree, but no punitive actions were take because it was found that the Geneva protocol lacked punishments for noncompliance.

Around this time nations began to recognize that biological weapons programs pursued by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had the potential to bring about new pandemics that could potentially dwarf any that had come before. International pressure brought about several conventions for the limiting of the production and usage of biological agents, but they did not always have support of the major powers.

Newer conventions dealing with the problem of chemical weapons face the same lack of support. The major powers ratify conventions, but only after the language has been twisted to the point that it can give them no problems.

A Position on the subject

It is not hard to dispute the position that chemical and biological warfare are a grave threat to the existence of humanity, and that the prevention of its occurrence is a necessity to maintain the civilized way of life.

It is essential that the nations that maintain stock piles of offensive chemical and biological agents disarm. Our nation has disarmed, and with tensions as high as they are becoming it would be immoral for any nation to not follow our example. Many of the world’s other great powers continue to keep large stockpiles of offensive chemical and biological agents while they encourage violence against smaller nations for trying to maintain a deterrent arsenal. Such policies are based on folly, and if they are continued open chemical and biological warfare are the most likely results.

The great nations of the world must lead by example if this problem is to be solved peacefully. Resolutions concerning chemical and biological warfare must be moved off of the committee backburners and into open discussions. Every nation that is disgusted by the arrogance of nations that continue to perpetuate the threat of open chemical and biological warfare must make their opinions known, so that the majoritarian consensus that these weapons of mass destruction be eliminated becomes the policy of the United Nations and its organs.

It is a firm belief supportted by hope for a future of humanity that through a majoritarian effort the threat of chemical and biological weapons can be controlled through resolutions passed in the General Assembly of the United Nations, and that the minority of nations that do possess offensive chemical and biological agents can be pressured to disarm in a peaceful manner.

It is the wholy morally right position that in this matter military actions taken to attempt to force disarmament inevitably inflict more suffering than they prevent. Though a totalitarian dictator was usurped in Iraq the actions taken to remove him from power did not contribute to international disarmament as was promised. Iraq was disarmed because of the success of the United Nations weapons inspection program in encouraging Iraq to destroy its stockpiles and stop continued work towards producing more offensive chemical and biological agents.

The military action in Iraq succeeded only in toppling a despotic government that would have soon collapsed on its own and plunging the people of Iraq into a condition of anarchy and despair. The continued search by the military of the United States and its coalition of allies to find any offensive chemical of biological agents in Iraq is a testament to the success of the United Nations weapons inspection program as a tool for promoting disarmament peacefully with cooperative nations

Justifying this Position

The reasons for following this lead are blatantly obvious. Offensive chemical and biological agents can kill and injure a very large quantity of people in a very short amount of time, and the damage that is caused by offensive chemical and biological agents is completely indiscriminate in nature. Once they are deployed they are beyond control.

Their indiscriminately destructive nature necessitates that every effort possible be made to peacefully get rid of these weapons, because we can control whether or not there we maintain stockpiles of offensive chemical and biological agents and we can control whether or not we use offensive chemical and biological agents.

The military action taken in Iraq has proven the success of the United Nations weapons inspection program, and it has revealed the human cost of trying to carelessly force nations to disarm. If the paternalistic nations calling for disarmament do not disarm themselves, then the current situation can not get any better and open chemical and biological warfare will continue to be a looming threat over the security of the world and the welfare of people everywhere.


Politics | Military


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