The events of September 11, 2001 have cast a new light on a debate which has transpired for decades in the U.S. government and among its citizens, namely, is the US prepared for chemical or biological attack. The United States has not previously, nor does now, show the preparedness to defend against this inherent threat.
Before we look at the issues, however, we must first look at the origins of these threats on mankind. "As long ago as 429 B.C. the Spartans burned pitch and sulfur to produce poisonous fumes under the city walls of the enemy"(Taylor 1). Chemical weapons were used during WWI that US citizens first saw for the first time, namely on those soldiers who fought in Europe. For those not killed by these gases, the devastating effects of these weapons continued on these soldiers for many years after they returned home from the war. .
During World War II (WWII) it was common knowledge that the Germans and Japanese, and to a lesser extent, the US were experimenting with chemical and biological weapons. It was only .
after the agreements of post WWI, the Geneva War Conventions, that no country utilized these weapons to any great extent in war. Development, however, was not slowed by these conventions, only usage.
It was at the Nuremberg War Trials where Germany and others were held accountable for their atrocious war crimes. It was apparent that society did not condone nor would it allow the use of biological or chemical weapons, even in wartime. Popularity of these, as an alternative to traditional warfare, waned. .
In the "cold-war" years after WWII, both the US and Soviet Union explored every possible weapon. The US built up huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, as did the USSR. Once again, however, no nation seemed willing to "cross the line" in using these types of weapons. What did occur, however, was the emergence of these weapons as a source of interest for smaller, rogue nations or radical groups within some of these nations.