Our commentary partners will help you reach your own conclusions on complex topics.
We can stop worrying about Russia using chemical warfare
Everyone, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from just below is Isberg Pass on the border between the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park. I’m on the Yosemite side. Back behind me…that is the head of what used to be the Merced Glacier. I’ve always liked this part of the park because it has some fascinating geology and almost no one comes here. Isberg is the least visited of the major passes.
Anywhoo, today is day four of my backpacking trip. And all of those of you who backpack semi-regularly know what day four means – it means fresh socks. And so on that topic, I thought today would be a great time to talk about chemical and biological warfare. Now, despite all of the concerns that we have had for the last several decades about weapons of mass destruction getting in the wrong hands,
I don’t mean to suggest that it’s a non concern, but it’s a relatively low concern. As the superpowers both discovered during the Cold War, chemical weapons are hard. It’s not so much the chemistry, it’s the delivery and dispersion. Because if it takes like a 100th of a gram of something to kill you, and you can put a few kilos into an artillery shell…but then you have to deal with simple atmospherics. And as they used to say in the 1980s, the solution to pollution is dilution.
And so you really need, if you want high casualty counts with chemical weapons, to disperse it in an area that is contained like a building. And all of a sudden you’re talking about a multibillion, really multi-hundred billion dollar project to kill what is in essence just a few 100 people – and if someone is smart enough to turn off the AC system, not even that. So it’s no surprise to me that conventions on chemical weapons actually passed and were adopted, were being implemented during the Cold War. Because they’re just not very effective at a battlefield weapon or even as a mass casualty weapon. There is a little wind here. I’m using my fancy microphone, and if that’s a problem, you can just skip to the next video, which will be even windier.
Anyhoo, that is chemical. Let’s talk biological. In many ways, everything that is difficult about chemical is also true for biological, it is very, very expensive to do and delivering the bug is very, very difficult. Because it’s not like most pathogens can just be released in the air and then they’ll do their thing and kill a lot of people. Excuse me, high elevation is going to my head. It’s…the bugs themselves are incredibly, incredibly non-viable in most environments. So now you’re talking tailored bugs for specific climates and elevations. And so the cost just keeps going up. And then of course, you still have the same delivery and dispersion problem that you have with chemicals. So as a rule biologicals cost more and achieve less.
Now, there are a couple of exceptions to these general rules, and really comes down to fear and terror attacks. If a terror group were able to get a hold of some of this stuff, they don’t really care what the economics of it are, because they’re not the ones who developed it. They…it would be a use it and lose it. But again, you’re talking about very, very low case counts and even lower casualty counts. The one possible exception is when you have a certain former superpower who likes to use chemical and biological agents as a assassination weapon. And there’s really nothing we can do about that.
Now we’re talking single digit number of people that the Russians have killed that way. So should you be concerned. You probably should reserve your caution for something that has a lot more likelihood of happening, like being killed by a vending machine. Okay, that’s it from me. Tomorrow is day five. Day five is a very exciting day for backpackers because that’s the day we get new underwear. No, we don’t. Until next time.
Israel supplying early warning radar to Ukraine could be game-changer
Russia has positioned itself as a neutral player in Middle East affairs recently, maintaining stable ties with Israel and its Arab neighbors. But a shift occurred after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, as Israel now sees Russia’s more symbolic support for Hamas in Gaza as siding with the militant group. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan…
Tourism thrives in Nashville, Tennessee
Tourism in the United States is a massive industry, contributing over $2 trillion to total U.S. GDP per year. However, the tourism habits of individuals across various income brackets can vary greatly. Understanding these differences can help tourism hotspots throughout the country prepare for growth and success in the 21st century. Straight Arrow News contributor…
North Dakota is a vital hub for agriculture and rail
Historically, human societies have relied upon waterways for trading agricultural goods. Since the dawn of the railroad era and modern transportation, however, that behavior has shifted. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan argues that North Dakota boasts “the world’s deepest rail connection system” to ship out freight and agricultural goods entirely without waterway transportation. One…
Germany, Brexit and South Africa in geopolitics today
The United Kingdom is still struggling to cope with Brexit, Germany faces a demographic crisis, and South Africa has the potential to become so much more than it is today. And no, China is not behind the Israel-Hamas war. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan addresses viewer-submitted questions about geopolitics in today’s world, responding to…
Should we worry about Chinese land purchases in US?
Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concerns about increasing ownership of American land by Chinese entities, often attributing it to the Chinese government’s attempt to control food supply and surveil U.S. infrastructure. China ranks 18th on the list of foreign landowners in the U.S., trailing Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, and the U.K. So how worried should…
Underreported stories from each side
Trump pushing Daines to run for Senate GOP leader: Report
10 sources | 20% from the left
Montana judge declares 3 laws restricting abortion unconstitutional, including a 20-week limit
16 sources | 0% from the right
Trump wants local police to deport migrants, judge blocks similar TX law
Hamas, Israel accuse each other after deadly Gaza aid truck incident
Congress considers giving rusting RFK stadium to DC for revitalization
Kellogg CEO’s ‘cereal for dinner’ creates backlash amid rising prices
US military using AI to find air strike targets in the Middle East
In addition to the facts, we believe it’s vital to hear perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum.
We know it is important to hear from a diverse range of observers on the complex topics we face and believe our commentary partners will help you reach your own conclusions.
The commentaries published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.
- What in the World
- America Speaks
In addition to the facts, we believe it’s vital to hear perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. We hope these different voices will help you reach your own conclusions.
The opinions published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.
Other AEI Contributors