Biochemical warfare like information warfare is a species of conflict evolved during the 20th century. The distinction between the biological and chemical forms of weapons is not always clear although the organized and dedicated use of chemicals in warfare predates the use of biological pathogens. |
Chemical warfare began as gas warfare during the so-called First World War. The first gas attack occurred on April 22, 1915 when the German army used 180 tons of chlorine gas against the French and Algerian troops in Ypres, Belgium. A second gas attack was launched on April 24. Some 5,000 soldiers died. On September 25, 1915 the British launched a chlorine gas attack on the Germans at Loos, Belgium. The Germans first used phosgene gas on December 9, 1915 in Ypres. On July 12, 1917 the Germans introduced Mustard gas to the field of battle. Fritz Haber, a German chemist is often recognized as the "father of Gas Warfare." In 1918 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on synthesizing ammonia from its elements, nitrogen and hydrogen. At his award speech Haber declared, "In no future war will the military be able to ignore poison gas. It is a higher form of killing."
Despite the 1925 Geneva Protocol that outlawed it, the development of chemical gas warfare continued. In 1936 German scientist Gerhard Schrader invented "Tabun" a highly toxic organo-phosphate compound. In 1937 the Italians used Mustard gas in Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia). In Vietnam the United States used chemical herbicides such as Agents Green, Pink, Purple, White, Blue and the notorious Orange. An advanced form of tear gas ("CS") was also in use in Southeast Asia. In 1979 during their war in Afghanistan the Soviet Union used chemical weapons. In the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi army routinely used mustard and other nerve gasses. Much of the United States offensive chemical warfare research took place at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. Edgewood was for a time home to the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. LSD and BZ tests were conducted at Edgewood according to the book Acid Dreams.
Biological warfare, the use of disease as a weapon of war, begins in the 1930s. The Japanese created a biowarfare center known as "Water Purification Unit #731" at Pingfan, Manchuria. Pingfan has become notorious in the annals of biological warfare. In October 1940 elements of Unit 731 tested the feasibility of biological weaponry when they air-dropped fleas infected with the bacteria Yersenia pestis ("the plague") over Ningpo, China. Some 500 fatalities were recorded. In 1942, Britain tested "anthrax bombs" on the remote Scottish island of Gruinard. The island has been quarantined for decades. In 1946 the Soviet Union began building a biowarfare center in Sverdlosk. In 1979 an anthrax "accident" occurred in Sverdlosk. Even the city's party boss, Boris Yeltsin, was kept in the dark as to the real cause of the death of some 100 people, until he agreed to the cover-up story. In 1943 Camp Detrick (the former Detrick Field and the later Fort Detrick) in Maryland became an important center for the United States biological weapons program.
The recent "anthrax" terrorism in Washington, D.C., while not the first anthrax episode, is fast becoming a demarcation line. The world is now fully sensitized to the dangers of biochemical warfare and its presence in our lives. In a provocative and controversial book by Dr. Len Horowitz, Emerging Viruses, claims are made that the viruses that cause AIDS and Ebola are not naturally occurring but have actually been concocted in biowarfare laboratories.
In the cosmic baseball game played between biological and chemical warfare agents the Chemicals won. In the larger scheme of things the result of this game is unimportant. Biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction each suggest nightmarish visions of a world gone mad.
Homeruns Machupo, Tabun, Mustard Gas, PCP(Phencyclidine)
Triples CN, PCP(Phencyclidine)
Stolen Bases None
Caught Stealing None
Double Plays Biologicals-1; Chemicals-2
Left-on-Base Biologicals-7; Chemicals-4
Game Most Cosmic Player