Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chemical Warfare

Chemical weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction. In addition to chemical weapons, other weapons in the "mass destruction" category include biological weapons and radiological and nuclear weapons. Chemical concoctions of this nature, and their delivery systems, have no alternate civilian application; they are instruments of war.

The first (and most famous) example of a chemical weapon used in military combat that I could find is mustard gas, so-called because of it's smell of mustard or horseradish or garlic - not because it is made from the oil of a  plant of the mustard family (such as rapeseed.) The blistering and often fatal inhalation of mustard gas comes from sulfur. Sulfur mustard is made by treating sulfur dichloride with ethylene.

Mustard gas was first produced in mass quantities by the Germans in WWI, used mostly by the Germans in that war against the British and their allies. Mustard gas can be delivered by several means. Artillery shells were a primary method of choice in WWI. Since the chemical lingers on the ground for days and weeks, it was used as a "territory denial" agent as well as being fired directly at and over troops on battlefields. Ict should be noted that a gas mask is insufficient protection against mustard gas, even when used properly, because the gas attacks unprotected skin as well. Although chemical warfare is primarily a province of the military, it has also become a favorite of terrorists and crackpot groups (especially in subways.)

Chemical warfare also includes the nerve agents as well as the blister death methods. The category includes all poison gasses, really. Here are notable instances in history where chemical weapons (as we know them today) have been used on a large scale:


1. In WWI by the Germans; by both sides towards the end of the war.

2. By the UK against the Red Army in 1919.

3. By Spain and France against insurgents in Morocco 1921-1927.

4. By Italy in Libya in 1930.

5. By the Soviet Union in China in 1934, and again in 1936-1937.

6. By Italy against Abyssinia (Ethiopia) 1935-1940.

7. Nazi Germany against Poland and the Soviet Union in a few instances in WWII. (And Poland against Germany in one isolated incident.)

8. By the Japanese against China 1937-1945.

9. By Egypt against North Yemen 1963-1967.

10. By Iraq against Iran 1983-1988.

11. By Iraq against the Kurds, 1988.

12. Probably by Sudan against the civil war insurgents in 1995 and 1997.


  1. And by the United States in Korea...

    "Mustard gas has been illegal since the Geneva Conventions, however its use by the US Army in Korea was admitted to by a Korean War vet I interviewed. He said it was delivered by rifle grenades which suddenly appeared at the front as the enemy were preparing for a human wave attack. Its effects were horrible as the Communist soldiers had no gask masks, and they climbed on top of each other to get above it, but the vet said it was the only way to stop them. The US denied at the time, and perhaps still does, the use of chemical warfare in this war."

    During the second world war, a U.S. Liberty Ship, the John Harvey loaded 200 100lb mustard gas bombs at the port of Baltimore, bound for the Fifteenth Air Force in Bari, Italy.
    America's stated intent re: mustard gas was that it would not be used unless the Axis powers used it first. Unfortunately, the luftwaffe bombed the port of Bari, hitting ships loaded with aviation fuel, munitions, and, of course, those mustard-gas bombs. 17 ships, over a thousand casualties, 628 suffered mustard gas exposure, 69 of those died.

    Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

    Dulce et Decorum Est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

    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.

    If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

  2. Small point, did 2nd Ypres not use Chlorine gas first before mustard?
    Agent Orange was the US weapon of choice in Vietnam.
    A short while back a reporter died from catching a whiff of Mustard Gas used by Saddan during the Iran war (supplied by US & Germany!). A small whiff of that gas can kill 25 or more years later, as happened to the reporter. Imagine the numbers who died between 1919-39.

    1. According to my reading, the Germans did indeed use chlorine gas in the Belgium fighting first. Later they invented mustard and began using that in 1917. Chlorine gas burns the throat and causes death by asphyxiation. Agent Orange was not intended as an antipersonnel weapon. It was a defoliant. Turned out it might as well have been intended as an actual weapon, considering the after-effects it caused on everybody in the area. For the record, the chemical weapon of choice of the Americans in Vietnam was Willie Pete - White Phosphorus, used hugely, dropped in large canisters by old A-1 aircraft. I don't know about the U.S. supplying mustard gas to Saddam for use against Iran. You make so many wild and undocumented statements that you personally believe is true due to your hatred of everything American, it is hard to sort out truth from mere slander. Citation needed on that. I know the Americans were destroying a lot of his chemical stockpiles during the "Gulf War" in 1991, and many Americans were "gassed" downwind of warehouses that were bombed, but I have not progressed much farther than that in my reading. I can't begin to imagine the numbers who died between 1919 and 1939 (although I don't know why you use 1939 as the cut-off point.

    2. "Wild & undocumented," translated as truths not wanted in US.
      Hatred of Americans? I like you! How low can I get?
      The yanks being gassed by their own gas was somewhat ironic during Iraq, but you controlled the oil and Bush is doing very well thanks. 1939 is the beginning of the second world war, although granddad bush traded happily with Nazi Germany until December 1941. Hmmm.
      Now excuse me, I have several other Americans to annoy.

    3. Not that I wanted to get involved in the weapons of mass destruction, but I'm afraid Agent Orange doesn't count. The people who mixed and sprayed it didn't have after effects. The ones exposed to a particular fungus prevalent in that area (that causes liver cancer).

      There have been releases of much greater quantities where the people exposed had nothing worse than a skin condition called chloracne.

      My father, now passed, was closely involved with the topic when they were making 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D and dioxin (main components of Agent Orange) illegal and he had hard data, statistics and testing that says you had to almost drink a quart of it to kill you.

      California and Oregon were the big pushes to get it made illegal. My father pointed out that it was particularly effective against marijuana and had been a very popular tool by law enforcement looking in those areas for farms. I don't think it's a coincidence that 11/13 of the women who miscarried after "exposure to 2,4,5-T" admitted to smoking pot as well - which can cause spontaneous abortion. That was the "study" that eventually got it taken off the market.

      Unfortunately, what they replaced it with (at least for a time) was far more dangerous: paraquat.

      My father worked for EPA for close to 30 years and ended up dead from much of the toxic muck he slogged through for our well-being.

      You don't have to believe him, but I did and do.

    4. Stephanie is right. As I said, Agent Orange was a defoliant. She may also be right about it not being the thing that is causing the delayed effects on many of the vietnam veterans. I believe what her father said too, except, perhaps, for the fungus part. Certainly there were some amazingly strange fungi in Vietnam. But the 50% 2,4,5-T used was contaminated (accidentally, Dow and Monsanto say) with something called 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin which caused the deaths and birth defects. I'm sure it was an honest mistake since it is easy to get the gray barrels mixed up with the orange barrels, and I would NEVER doubt the word of Dow Chemical, it being a Michigan big employer and all. Incidentally, it was because the stuff was shipped in striped orange 55 gallon drums that gave it its name, not the actual color of the chemical. which was just a smokey gray color. Not unlike crop dusting. Isn't it amazing how I can remember all those numbers after all these years? Well, no. I looked that up. I don't remember hearing anything about "agent orange" until quite a long time after Vietnam.

  3. Replies
    1. Bunny blood? Rotator cuff?

      I don't believe for a minute you read all this stuff. Lucky guess.

    2. Wow Soubriquet. Comments like that are going to really count in your favor when you start submitting all your paperwork to enter the USofA on a more 'permanent' status .... do you really believe your moniker is all that anonymous ???


    3. Hmmm Soub turned back at customs as a terrorist perhaps? Most unlikely, but you never know, Max may be on customs duty!

    4. "Ay Carnauba!", as I might say if I were B art Simpson on wax...
      The U.S of A already knows my email address, so I don't imagine it would be difficult for them to follow me about the interwebs.
      However, I don't really think they'll be fazed by my stating something like this that they, or at least a few of them already know.

      It's that guy in the trenchcoat who worries me, following me around all day, speaking into his wristwatch.

      I had mustard on my beef sandwich for lunch today. I think he noted that down. It was english mustard, made by Colmans of Norwich. Makes me sneeze, but no nasty gas was involved.

  4. This process is overwhelming at best. We all know of your conspirative tendencies concerning US politics. All I'm asking is that you curb your enthusiasms until your papers are stamped !!


  5. Dear Homeland Security:

    I am sending you the name and dossier on a violent radical I think should be on your "no fly" list. I refer to Ahkmid Soubriquet (he spells his last name with an extra "u"). Something about his underpants is VERY suspicious. If you know what I mean.

    A friend and proud American
    (who knows we are pure when it comes to mustard gas, unlike the violent British who have used it almost continuously since WWI and up until at least yesterday.)

  6. hahahahahaaa Max. Okay. Okay.

    If you even knew the hoops Soub and I have to jump through to get him 'legally' entered to the USofA, you'd understand why I'm slowly pulling my hair out one strand at a time. Yes it is THAT tedious and demanding. Not to mention all the 'fees' that must be collected each step of the way. Soub has to pass both a medical exam and an 'Interview' at the US Embassy AFTER we've filed reams of paperwork and affidavits .... go ahead and laugh. I'm either laughing or crying as I muck through the red tape.

    Heaven forbid that we will have to use our blogs as 'proof' of a prior relationship ......


    1. I used to have a good friend high up (really high up) in immigration that could "waive" most of that stuff with his signature. My buddy from Belgium is still living here after 30 years and is a testament to knowing the right people. But he died. The official, I mean, not my friend. So the best advice I can give Soub - advice that obviously works and works well - is to visit Nuevo Loredo. I no longer recommend Juarez. He will save fees by simply hiring a coyote. He could have a redhead with a fast car waiting for him. Texas will then give him resident college tuition rates, as I understand it.

      Or, for the right price, I will swear he is my kid.

    2. No, that is bad advice. I'm afraid there is no other way out but to get married.

    3. Soub had to take a medical exam? Really? Did they put a number on his back in chalk, too? Just as well - we don't want to be reintroducing smallpox back into Texas on top of the TB the illegals bring as a gift. I'm sure Soub has no disease that a large bag of limes wouldn't cure.

  7. I should be asleep, but I'm having too much fun laughing at your comments!


  8. In order to avoid the paperwork, I have started tunnelling from England to America. Please advise me whether I should go under Ireland or just go around it? Obvious benefit from going under Ireland is the availability of potatoes in the tunnel ceiling as I dig. The argument against, says it's always raining in the emerald isle, and I so hate working in a muddy tunnel.

    1. I know you are descended from miners, but a tuber-sucker?



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