Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Things you thought you knew, that just weren't so: British use of mustard gas in the Iraq Revolt of 1920.  I had read about this ten-fifteen years ago, and just assumed it was substantiated.  After all, mustard gas was part of all major armies' inventory right through World War II - an Allied supply stock of the stuff in Bari during the Italian campaign was smashed open in a German air strike and the cloud killed hundreds.  And the British were pretty open about their legal opinion that the Geneva Accords only applied to "civilized" opponents, and had just spent four years gassing and being gassed by the nominally civilized Germans.  They had even used chemical weapons in Palestine a few years previously.  And both the Spanish and the Italians used chemical weapons against North Africans and Ethiopians between the wars, so it's not as if this was unthinkable at the time... just maybe not actually true.


Benjamin said...

I'm glad that chemical weapons have fallen out of fashion.

I had some knowledge of chemical weapons prior to my first encounter with the videos of Aug 21st victims, but was still fascinated by how the US Army kept a stock of it and a capability to manufacture a variety of nastiness at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which wasn't far from Denver/Boulder. I'm glad a tornado never left it strewn across the county.

It's funny how then as now, expediency quietly happens. I'm always simultaneously awed at the technical accomplishments and dismayed at the thinking and direction behind some of it.

Hope you have been well.

Benjamin said...

I'm glad that chemical weapons have fallen out of fashion. They used to make some of it not for from Denver/Boulder, at the US Army Rocky Mountain Arsenal. It took 25 years as a Superfund site to declare it sufficiently remedied, in 2010. That history is still in the rear view mirror for some in the region.

I guess then as ever, distasteful expedient things are quietly executed by those in power, some of it perhaps wise and necessary, some of it just ... blatantly questionable. Buffalo Bill's grave isn't far from here, either, if one believes that the Buffalo kills were strategically aimed at some American Indians' food supply...

I hope you're doing well.