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A question

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This is not a rhetorical question, nor is it intended to be snarky or otherwise disingenuous.

Why is killing a lot of people with chemical weapons considered so much worse, in terms of international law and geopolitical rhetoric (if not action, c.f. Kevin Drum’s excellent points here), than blowing the same number of people up with high explosive munitions, or machine-gunning them, or hacking them to death with machetes?

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  • Pingback: A question about chemical weapons | ryanmjon.es()

  • Tirxu

    I think that the difference is the inherently indiscriminate nature of chemical weapons.

    A machete kills the one you are hacking at. A chemical attacks kills everyone in range. Notice that the machetes killings were very discriminating: they killed mostly Tutsi.

    • Ron

      But doesn’t that also apply to explosives? Yes, a gun is targeted, and a machete is very targeted, but both explosives and CW are poorly targeted.

      Perhaps that’s exactly the thing, though. The movement in explosives has been away from saturation bombing, as in WWII, and toward more directed killing. You blow up THIS building. Now, that’s not great, especially when it’s an apartment building. But it’s still better than a Sarin bomb, I suppose, which kills this area of the city.

      But I’m not sure that it helps all that much. I can see where you’re coming from. The machete answer is also why war was more “moral” when it took place on set battlefields away from civilians. But those days are long gone.

      (Not disagreeing. Merely curious about your response.)

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