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Are Chemical Weapons Worse than Conventionsal Weapons?

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by

Peter Van Susteren

on 16 January 2014

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Transcript of Are Chemical Weapons Worse than Conventionsal Weapons?

Is the Belief that Chemical Weapons are Worse than Conventional Weapons Justified?

What Are Chemical Weapons?
"...any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action." -
Syria
In August 2013, Assad's regime used chemical weapons to attack the opposing militia, causing the death of up to 1,400 Syrians, including innocent civilians.
What about conventional weapons?
Are some weapons more "fair" than others even if they have the same intent to kill? Are these weapons "more safe"?
Why are these weapons allowed to be used?
They follow the "international rules of war"
Greater chances of survival?
The area these weapons affect?

How do we know?
Area of knowledge: History
Way of knowing: sense perception
Weapons of Mass Destruction WMD
Chemical, nuclear, biological, or radiological weapons that can kill or bring harm to a large number of people or cause great damage to man-made structures (e.g. buildings), natural structures (e.g. mountains), or the biosphere.
Why are chemical weapons internationally banned?
Modern precision and accuracy of weapon technology and their delivery systems
Technology such as "smart" bombs, laser designators, and UAVs can aid in precision.
ToK Presentation by Peter Van Susteren
Nerve agents
Blister agents
Blood agents
Choking agents
Sarin, a nerve agent, was packed in missiles and detonated over a known area of militia resistance during the Syrian Civil War.
Machine guns
Explosives/bombs
Close combat weapons, knives
Applying natural science AoK to effects of chemical warfare through chemistry/biology
These conventional weapons were banned as well... Why?
Land mines
Cluster bombs
Napalm
Brutality of death and extent of suffering
With modern weapon technology, do most weapons have the capacity to kill in the way that chemical weapons do?
Would Assad have caused the same amount of damage with conventional bombs or weapons?
...back to Syria
Do chemical weapons do more harm because of uncontrollable spread? Is precision the issue?
Area of knowledge: Natural sciences
Way of knowing: Reason
Sense perception and reason
Sarin = red
Acetylcholinesterase = yellow
Acetylcholine = blue
Sarin is an acetlycholinesterase inhibitor
History as an AoK
Perception as a WoK
World War One and trench warfare.

Physical damage left on survivors such as blindness, lung damage
Thoughts...
Conventional weapons versus chemical weapons
What about the survivors and the injured?
Veterans of wars have wounds that cant be healed.
Keep in mind:
Technology available
The targets
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993
Geneva Protocol
1925
"The issue is not about either the instrument of death or the number of people killed. It is much more than that. The ban of chemical weapons is not about the dead; it's about the living. If you have seen what chemical warfare does to the people against whom it is used, you can easily understand the ban."- Larry OKC (Vietnam veteran) MSNBC
Soldier PoV
Scientist PoV
"...chemical weapons are inhumane and a horrific way to die."
"...chemical weapons are indiscriminate—not that bombs and bullets can't be. These weapons kill everyone in any environment where they're deployed."
-Alexander Garza, professor of epidemiology at the Saint Louis University and former Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Higher accuracy = less civilian casualties?
Aren't "conventional weapons" such as explosives and gunfire just as damaging and deadly?
"Chemical weapons attacks are not necessarily any more horrifying than the use of conventional weapons," "...the lethality has always been far worse on paper than in reality."
Politician PoV
-Tony Cordesman, former Defense Department official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

- Wilfred Owen "Dulce et Decorum est"
Sarin attacks the nervous system
Why argue to ban chemical weapons when conventional weapons have the same potential?
If conventional weapons can cause just as much suffering and death, then the belief isn't justified.
Explosions can cause long term effects such as PTSD, paralysis and loss of limbs.
Is sense perception the only way to evaluate suffering and
Full transcript