Chemical Weapons and U.S. National Interest

Otto Dix, German Gas Attack, 1924

Perhaps the most moving poem with imagery evoking the horror of the first World War is “Dulce et Decorum Est” written in October 1917 by Wilfred Owen, the British writer who was killed in action a year later, aged 25. His condemnation of the use of gas against people haunts us today.

It is not clear which country, France or Germany, first used poison gas in that war. But the most memorable occasion was the use on April 22, 1915 by Germany of lethal chlorine gas against French colonial, mostly Algerian, divisions, at the second battle of Ypres. About this horror of the use of gas, Owen wrote, “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” Chlorine did produce choking and suffocation, but the contending armies in the war soon used stronger gases, phosgene and above all, mustard gas.

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  • andycanuck

    Germany did. On the Eastern Front (forgotten the name) but it was too windy so it’s ignored in favour of Ypres instead.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Chemical weapons were banned because they were scary not because they were effective or in the case of reality, ineffective. And in the case of Arabs and such, they’ve never hesitated to use them when it suits them. The Egyptian army used chemicals in Yemen in 1962-3. Libya used them in Chad in the closing months of the Chad-Libya war (the “Toyota War”) . Iraq used them against Iraqis and Iranians.

    BTW Sean Spicer’s comment: Both Japan and Italy used chemical and biological weapons in China and Abyssinia respectively.

    The key to using chemical weapons and not suffering much a consequence for doing so is to use them in indiscriminately against people one’s own people consider inferior or people who haven’t successfully manipulated world opinion and the media in terms of victimhood. In fact were it not for ‘palestinians’ living cheek to jowl with Israelis they would have used chemical weapons against the Jews a long time ago. They would get an award from the UN and the NYT would rush an op-ed column to press explaining how it’s simply not the same thing ‘as Zyklon-B’. That’s the real threat from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Not nukes. There would still be some moderated objections from ‘the world’ if they used nukes against the Jews. But chemical weapons? First off the BBC et al would be dubious with its ‘alleged’ this and ‘suspected’ that. Once it became clear that they had been used it would be brushed off with a rude ‘oh not that many people died’. SJP would erupt on every college campus claiming that the Jews a) did it themselves, b) lied about it and it’s a hoax, c) intentionally put the ‘palestinians’ in harm’s way or d) tried to exterminate the Arabs and it went horribly wrong for them.

    I mean, be serious. This is the real world we’re dealing with here. In fact if chemical weapons are ever used against Israel it will trigger massive pogroms against Jews world wide.