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March 23, 2013 10:37 PM   Subscribe

A Primer on the agents of Chemical Warfare part One, Two, Three, Four and Five.
posted by Mitheral (16 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are good, and what blogging ought to be - short, informative, and well-written.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:12 AM on March 24, 2013


These are good, and what blogging ought to be - short, informative, and well-written.

As is all good fiction.

"There's a reasonable chance that an invasion of Iraq would trigger use of Saddam Hussein's remaining chemical weapons stores."

"We can assume that Iraq has a real supply of chemical munitions (more on this later on, too,) while less infrastructure-rich terrorists probably don't (unless they buy them off of the Iraqis or any of the many other governments that are holding on to this stuff.)"

I think it is good to remember that most of what one reads these days about chemical weapons is fiction with a political slant.
posted by three blind mice at 12:43 AM on March 24, 2013


Fortunately, many of these horrible compounds have led to the development of medical treatments; acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's, atropine for AV block, and alkylating agents for chemotherapy. As they say, the dose makes the poison, though I'd emphasize the importance of context as well. When a biological process is contributing to a disease state, sometimes the best you can do is throw a molecular wrench into the works. They're fairly blunt instruments, but for some conditions, that's all you have to work with.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:28 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ya, there was a lot of misinformation floating around when these were written in 2002 and the writer is a professional chemist not a political analyst. The factual information is very good though. And after all he speculated that if (and that's a big if) chemical weapons were used it would be against Iraqis or other civilian populations but he also made a strong case that state actors in general including Saddam wouldn't use chemical weapons and rather the more likely risk is from terrorists. Luckily Saddam didn't gas anyone and there hasn't been a significant terrorist gas attack since that I'm aware of either.
posted by Mitheral at 1:37 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


From part two:

We can assume that Iraq has a real supply of chemical munitions (more on this later on, too,)

Things you know that just aren't so...
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 3:19 AM on March 24, 2013


I'm disappointed; "primer" made it sound like a how-to-guide.
posted by Renoroc at 5:59 AM on March 24, 2013


Ah, a shout-out to Den Beste. That brings back a lot of awful memories of the early 2000s warbloggers.
posted by xthlc at 6:51 AM on March 24, 2013


Mitheral: "Luckily Saddam didn't gas anyone "

Sadly, massively, incorrect.
posted by exogenous at 7:23 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


As is all good fiction.

Well, if you put your critical-thinking cap on right (as opposed to your reflexively-contrarian cap), and if you take into account the piece was written in 2002, it's easy to overlook some of the "Saddam has chemical weapons" stuff. Plus, if you read closely, you'll see that he says that Iraqi chemical weapon production would have been pretty crude anyway. Finally, Iraq did have a long history of using chemical weapons.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:54 AM on March 24, 2013


Saddam didn't gas anyone after the article was written.
posted by Mitheral at 10:12 AM on March 24, 2013


Mitheral: "Saddam didn't gas anyone after the article was written."

Only when we were chums.
posted by symbioid at 11:17 AM on March 24, 2013


That brings back a lot of awful memories of the early 2000s warbloggers.

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on March 24, 2013


Previously.

Holy shit, that's awesome.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:35 PM on March 24, 2013


Yeah, remember, at the time, the administration flat-out told us Iraq still had chemical weapons, and there was little reason not to believe them - Iraq did have a history of making and using the stuff. More, they were posturing as if they still had them (probably as a deterrent to Iraq and domestic enemies who had their act together, like the Kurds).

The problem is, the administration was flat out lying to us, and Saddam's regime didn't clue in that they were being set up until too late, and so kept up the hostility-to-inspections schtick. And it was schtick - the UN knew Iraq was in compliance. The Clinton administration, too.

But Bush needed a bigger war than Afghanistan to jumpstart the economy and pay off his backers and political allies with fat defense and infrastructure-rebuilding contracts. The average American was more paranoid and aggressive than usual after 9/11 - so when Bush told his lie, people who should have known better believed it. Lots of people, even those who weren't savage and stupid neo-cons.

On the other hand, anyone who believed the war was justified after the first year, when it was discovered that, no, Iraq was in compliance the whole time - they are either fools or neo-cons. i'll never understand how Kerry let Bush off the hook for Iraq during the 2004 campaign, especially with the nasty Swiftboat stuff sent his way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:25 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The U.S. Army Chemical Corps Museum has some historic documents that are relevant to my interests.

The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity was/is charged with disposal and storage of American chemical stockpiles.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:10 AM on March 25, 2013


If you're looking for more information, I'd highly recommend the book he references in the third post: A Higher Form of Killing.

It's a great history and goes into more detail of some of the incidents he mentions.
posted by bonehead at 11:30 AM on March 25, 2013


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