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1/17/15 Is it time we should reconsider the military use of gas? [Headline revised to one used by The Myrtle Beach Sun News.]

George Henry Edwards, GIAC2002.org

Should we allow killing or maiming rather than remove the absolute ban on the use of gas?

I would answer “no,” especially after seeing the poor victims on Wounded Warriors videos and the ISIS atrocities.

Rather than funding such as bacterial war research, funding research for temporary-impairment gases to inhibit violence is desirable. Since the permanently injurious poison gas use in World War One, even tear gas has been internationally outlawed for war. There is a public aversion to gas usage in general, but temporary-impairment tear gas for civilian riot control is generally accepted.

Devoting significant research to advanced specialized violence-inhibiting gases is desirable for combat use and civilian riot control. Think. Is this not better than killing or maiming?

Widely considered pros and cons are discussed at length on the Web. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_warfare.

That article references the associated Geneva Protocol, gives a history of poisonous gases and more extreme positions than mine which simply suggests developing totally non-injurious gases that will inhibit violence. Selected quotations from the article follow:

  “The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and the Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, or the Geneva Protocol, is an international treaty which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in warfare. Signed into international Law at Geneva on June 17, 1925 and entered into force on February 8, 1928, this treaty states that chemical and biological weapons are ‘justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilised world.

  “The first proposal for the use of chemical warfare was made by Lyon Playfair, Secretary of the Science and Art Department, in 1854 during the Crimean War. He proposed a cacodyl cyanide artillery shell for use against enemy ships as way to solve the stalemate during the siege of Sevastopol. The proposal was backed by Admiral Thomas Cochrane of the Royal Navy. It was considered by the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, but the British Ordnance Department rejected the proposal as ‘as bad a mode of warfare as poisoning the wells of the enemy.’ Playfair’s response was used to justify chemical warfare into the next century:

  ‘There was no sense in this objection. It is considered a legitimate mode of warfare to fill shells with molten metal which scatters among the enemy, and produced the most frightful modes of death. Why a poisonous vapor which would kill men without suffering is to be considered illegitimate warfare is incomprehensible. War is destruction, and the more destructive it can be made with the least suffering the sooner will be ended that barbarous method of protecting national rights. No doubt in time chemistry will be used to lessen the suffering of combatants, and even of criminals condemned to death.’”

My suggestion entails a middle ground to the cited viewpoints by not calling for lethal gases but research, development and potential use of gases inhibiting violence with no long term harm to those exposed—for either military or riot control usage.