Chemical Warfare Essay

Chemical Warfare Essay

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The images are haunting: soldiers in gas masks rapid firing through dusky vapours, people contorted with a pain that comes from within. Chemical warfare has long been acknowledged as a devastating tactical weapon, but the origin of this impression is now being debated. While it is a common held belief that chemical warfare is a form of modern warfare and that the First World War is recognised for introducing this type of combat, recent archaeological finds show this may prove otherwise. According to accepted definitions of chemical warfare, newly discovered battle tactics used by humanity’s ancestors may not be so different from those of modern warfare. In the opposite way, while advancements in science have aided in making chemical warfare common, humanity has come no further from extracting itself of the need for destruction than those that lived in the ancient world.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, chemical warfare is “tactical warfare using incendiary mixtures, smokes, or irritant, burning, poisonous, or asphyxiating gasses.” (Chemical warfare, 2011) It is a temptingly appealing way to dispose of one’s enemies without drawing a sword or lifting a gun. Chemical weapon agents, or CWAs as they are more commonly referred, are classified in five main groups: riot control agents, nerve agents, blister agents, blood agents, and choking agents. Each is devastating on those caught in their paths and, for decades, scientists have worked to create easier to wield, more lethal types. As CWAs have become more widespread in combat, various organisations were set up to restrict their application. Today, there are eight countries known to possess chemical weapons (OPCW) but, finding in new archaeological discoveries, this may n...


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...p://www.opcw.org/about-chemical
weapons/what-is-a-chemical-weapon
Syed, T. (2009). Ancient persians 'gassed romans' . BBC News, Retrieved from
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Tharoor, I. (2009, February 13). Why chemical warfare is ancient history. Time, Retrieved from
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University of Leicester. (2009, January 14). Archeologist uncovers evidence of ancient chemical
warfare. Science Daily, Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/
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Wicken, J. (2007, May). Ancient warfare - chemical warfare in the ancient world: Part 1. Fight
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