In the aftermath of 9/11, the potential terror of weapons of mass destructionfrom nuclear, biological, and chemical to dirty bombspreoccupies national security experts. In Chemical Warfare, Frederic J. Brown, presents a cogent, innovative framework for understanding the historical forces that have restrained the use of WMD and how they continue to have relevance today. Analyzing both world wars, he argues that the restraints on use were complex and often unpredictable and ranged from the political to the technological.
The author offers a detailed examination of American chemical warfare policy as it was shaped by industry and public sentiment, as well as national and military leaders. The organization of the book into three parts reflects the importance of battlefield experiences during the First World War and of international political restraints as they evolved during the interwar years and culminated in "no first use" policies by major powers in World War II. Part I examines the use of chemical weapons in World War I as it influenced subsequent national policy decisions. Part II focuses on the evolution of political, military, economic, and psychological restraints from 1919 to 1939. Part III discusses World War II during two critical periods: 1939 to early 1942, when the environment of the war was being established largely without American influence; and during 1945, when the United States faced no credible threat of retaliation to deter its strategic and battlefield use of chemical weapons. Written at the height of controversy about the U.S. use of chemicals in Vietnam, Chemical Warfare offers a valuable historical perspective, as relevant now in its analysis of chemical and also nuclear policy as it was when first published.