Chemical and biological weapons–weapons of minimum destruction

In the post-9/11, Gulf War world, we have just taken at face value the idea that a terrorist armed with chemical or biological weapons is much more dangerous than those who just have ‘conventional’ ones.

“David C Rapoport, professor of political science at University of California, Los Angeles and editor of the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence, has examined what he calls ‘easily available evidence’ relating to the historic use of chemical and biological weapons.

He found something surprising – such weapons do not cause mass destruction. Indeed, whether used by states, terror groups or dispersed in industrial accidents, they tend to be far less destructive than conventional weapons. ‘If we stopped speculating about things that might happen in the future and looked instead at what has happened in the past, we’d see that our fears about WMD are misplaced’, he says.

. . .’We know that nukes are massively destructive, there is a lot of evidence for that’, says Rapoport. But when it comes to chemical and biological weapons, ‘the evidence suggests that we should call them ‘weapons of minimum destruction’, not mass destruction’.” (Read on.)