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Showing posts from April 6, 2017

Chemical Weapons: Feeble in War, Powerful Against Civilians

Nearly a hundred civilians died in agony this week and hundreds more will be crippled by a Sarin gas attack in Syria.  Murdering unprotected civilians is the most effective way to use chemical weapons.  Since they were introduced 102 years ago, they have been a failure on the battlefield, but a terrible success against civilians.

German Captain Fritz Haber gave the command to release chlorine gas from hundreds of cylinders at Ypres in April of 1915. At that moment, chemical warfare became part of the horrors of trench warfare for the remainder of World War I.

Chemical weapons were not used in World War II, or subsequent wars, except the Iran-Iraq War in the late 80s. Military leaders soon found that chemical warfare is less effective than kinetic (bombs and bullets) warfare.  With the additional problem that the winners often cannot occupy the territory they take.  An area contaminated with Sarin or other nerve agents will take weeks to decontaminate.

While they are not very effecti…