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The armaments of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) are now widely held not just by nation-states, but by terrorist and criminal enterprises. The weapons themselves are relatively inexpensive and very easy to hide, allowing organizations of just a few dozen people to deploy potentially devastating attacks. While in the twentieth century most arms-control efforts focused, rightly, on nuclear arsenals, in the twenty-first century CBW will almost certainly require just as much attention. This book defines the basics of CBW for the concerned citizen, including non-alarmist scientific descriptions of the weapons and their antidotes, methods of deployment and defensive response, and the likelihood in the current global political climate of additional proliferation.
"Croddy provides a useful handbook for anyone who wishes to know about chemical and biological weapons (CBW). … Croddy lays out basic information in the beginning and only gradually adds complexity when the reader is ready for it. … Croddy incorporates the latest information, including the changing tactics of terrorists and their plans to use CBW. … Particularly useful is Croddy’s discussion of the current controversy surrounding mandatory vaccination of all US military personnel … . Recommended for both undergraduate and graduate students." (J. Granville, CHOICE, July, 2002)
"Chemical and Biological Warfare: A Comprehensive Survey for the Concerned Citizen provides extensive listings of and information about known chemical and biological agents, while keeping historical perspective and avoiding alarmism." (Morning News Dallas, July, 2002)
"Chemical And Biological Warfare analyzes the key issues related to chemical and biological warfare, detailing known chemical and biological agents, how they may be used in weaponry, and the possibilities of their use in modern conflicts. Readers seeking a technical survey of proliferation and basic concepts of chemical and biological weaponry receive more in-depth information here than in many titles." (Bookwatch, May, 2002)
"In this highly authoritative book, Croddy … provides a realistic assessment of the dangers we actually face from chemical and biological warfare. The author uses his extensive knowledge of the technology and history of such warfare to survey key chemical and biological agents and explain their characteristics and effects on humans." (Joshua Sinai, Journal of Homeland Security, June, 2002)
"‘Be Informed, Not Afraid’ … encapsulates the laudable objective of this book by Eric Croddy … . A historical and factual approach is taken that achieves the objective of informing but not alarming the reader. It provides a succinct appreciation as to which countries still possess those weapons … . Overall, this book is a primer for the concerned citizen, which puts the dangers of chemical and biological weapons into the context of today’s world." (Graham S. Pearson, Biologist, Vol. 49 (5), 2002)
"As the title states, the authors of this book have set out to give the ‘concerned citizen’ a comprehensive overview of chemical and biological weapons. In their descriptions of the various agents they have succeeded very well … . Considerable attention is given to measures for preventing war-induced epidemics … ." (Erhard Geissler, Angewandte Chemie, Vol. 41 (16), 2002)
"The book provides a detailed survey of the key issues related to chemical and biological warfare. For the reader who wants solid and level-headed information on the current state of CBW affairs and the likelihood of its proliferation, it is indispensable." (Chemische Rundschau, Issue 14, July, 2002)
"Without playing with fears, Eric Croddy … uses his extensive knowledge of the technology and history of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) to provide a comprehensive run-down of key CBW agents … . In clear, non-alarmist language, Croddy provides a detailed survey of the key issues related to chemical and biological warfare. For the reader who wants solid and level-headed information on the current state of CBW affairs and the likelihood of its proliferation, this is an indispensable volume." (Science in Africa, April, 2002)
1: Chemical warfare (CW) history; 2: Defenses against chemical weapons; 3: Incentives and Disincentives to Acquire Chemical Weapons; 4: The Geopolitics of Proliferation; 5: Strategies for Control and Disarmament; 6: Definition of a biological warfare (BW) agent; 7: Brief History of Biological Weapons; 8: Motivations for Proliferation; 9: Biological warfare (BW) agent detection; 10: Biological warfare (BW) and terrorism; 11: Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972
Why study chemical and biological warfare (CBW)? At the very lowest level, the topic lends itself to morbid curiosity. The scale on which "bugs and gas" can be used to kill people, and the way in which they cause death, can make for gruesome reading. Then there is the matter that these weapons are considered, rightly or wrongly, to be abominable, and those who wish to confirm that opinion will find in studying CBW plenty to abhor. Readers in these two categories are likely to be disappointed by what they will find in this book.
Fear is another motive for study. One can hardly read the paper or listen to the news today and not, sooner rather than later, hear reports about the belligerent nations, repressive regimes, and terrorist organizations that have access to, or are working on the development of, these weapons. The mere existence of CBW armaments, we are told, poses a significant threat to the stability of international order. Even if one believes that the nuclear stand-off between superpowers-the Balance of Terror that characterized the Cold War-is a thing of the past, we now have a whole new cast of characters to worry about. They are less well understood than our old adversary the Soviet Union, and less predictable. They operate as states (or sometimes "rogue states"), but also in the shadows, in league with networks of terrorists, global criminal enterprises, and splinter groups representing every conceivable type of fanaticism. And they will, it is almost certain, push us into a whole new kind of decades-long war. For readers arriving with this point of view, I hope this book will serve as a kind of corrective. It is not my belief that CBW armaments are benign, or that states and sub-state organizations are not wishing for or even planning chemical or biological attacks against the United States and the rest of the industrialized world. I am not someone who places great faith in the good will and sober judgment of, say, Saddam Hussein. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would put my money on the likelihood that we will see chemical or biological weapons attacks in the not-too-distant future. But where this book perhaps differs from some more popular discussions of the topic is in its argument, in its underlying theme, that biological and especially chemical attacks of any magnitude are extremely difficult to plan, develop, execute, and fund. Certainly it is true that a fanatical cult could release nerve agent on a crowded subway car, as happened in Tokyo in March 1995. And the ultimate splinter group, a single deranged individual, may be perfectly capable of killing, injuring, or incapacitating large numbers of individuals in any number of ways chemical or biological. If you add to these all the belligerent major powers, rogue states, and oppressive regimes worldwide (and factor in their client terrorist organizations as well), you can imagine no end of mischief-gas attacks, reservoir poisonings, anthrax outbreaks, and so forth. But what we have to do is dwell less on nightmare scenarios and try to learn-as calmly and clearly as possible-what CBW agents are, how they work, who has used them in the past, and what is being done to limit their proliferation. Fear may be a good motivator, but it is not, as far as I can tell, an aid to understanding.How This Book Is Organized
This book is divided into three major parts. In Part I, "Gas, Bugs, and Common Sense," there is a brief introduction to and definition of CBW (Chapter 1), including descriptions of why and how nation-states and "sub-states" (for example, terrorist organizations) develop chemical and biological weapons. Chapter 2 then lists, in a fairly straightforward manner, the nations that have CBW capabilities, along with brief descriptions of the particular agents they possess. In Chapter 3, we take a look at some of the threats we're likely and unlikely to face.
Part II is focused on chemical weapons. In Chapter 4, there are rather extensive descriptions and discussions of more than fifty of the best-known CW agents. Chapter 5 is a history of chemical warfare from ancient times to the present. And Chapter 6 discusses in detail the workings of the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), by all accounts one of the most effective international treaties written. (But not, as the chapter makes clear, without its limitations.) Included in the chapter is a lengthy discussion of the extremely difficult matter of verification, and the highs and lows of the international community's relationship with Iraq, an unwilling signer of the accord.
Part III, which more or less mirrors Part II, focuses on biological agents and weapons, with Chapter 7 describing more than forty biological agents in detail. Chapter 8 focuses on BW armaments in history, again covering a broad span. Chapter 9 covers the Biological Weapons and Toxins Convention of 1972 (BWTC), a work of the best intentions but not much good effect. (The success of the CWC and the comparative ineffectiveness of the BWTC are discussed in some detail.) Finally, a whole chapter (Chapter 10) is devoted to the issue of vaccinations and biological warfare.
After a stint in the defense/aerospace consulting business, I was hired by Jonathan Tucker at the Monterey Institute in 1998. The first and foremost responsibility I had was to put together an introductory text on CBW, with assistance from two recent graduates: John Hart and Clarisa Perez-Armendariz. The manuscript went through several rewrites and revisions before being released by Copernicus Books in December 2001.
In many respects, and despite all of the attention afforded to it of late, the subject of CBW is still arcane to most people. The term may now be ubiquitous, but that doesn't mean knowledge of chemical or biological weapons is widespread or profound. Few know very much about, say, nerve agents or Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus as weapons. But is this unusual? If you think about it, the same can be said for conventional weapons, too. For example, ask yourself or your friends: How do explosives work? What is the Munroe effect? What's the difference between a tank and an armored vehicle? Chances are, most have not really paid that much attention to such details, but these are very important subjects all the same. Now, consider what you know about the science of poisons or infectious disease. These, too, are subjects that are not found in many classrooms, certainly not often at the undergraduate level. But perhaps now they will be, and maybe even in relation to matters having to do with CBW. For once you know how and why these things work, the more likely you can intelligently address the potential risk and threat. Keeping our risks in perspective is sometimes difficult, but it's necessary lest we take counsel of only our fears.
And learning more about the nitty-gritty details of CBW means more than having the tools to adequately address the potential threats. It could also help prevent or at least predict when and where it could happen. Looking back, and it's deceptively easy to do, recall that a major sarin agent attack occurred in Matsumoto, Japan (the details of which are still unknown to many) a year before the infamous attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995. If chemical terrorism wasn't a household term in 1994 -- not to mention a ubiquitous topic of concern within security and intelligence circles -- a year later it would be. Perhaps the Matsumoto attack was unavoidable, but could the Japanese authorities have seen the next one coming? Would more communication and coordination have averted the Tokyo subway incident? On that day in March 1995, the dozen people who died and the hundreds who were injured might have otherwise gone about their daily lives in peace. Its one of those lessons we need to learn over and over again. (Eric Croddy)
Posted November 29, 2001
A clear, concise text which provides useful information about CBW. I've read several books on the topic since 09/11/01 and this is the best. Written in simple language yet detailed in its presentation, the book is an easy read that informs without hype or sensationalism. Bravo...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.