Chemical warfare. On chemical weapons.
The human (male) animals, perpetually and persistently kill each other throughout history. However, there is certain shying away from using poisons or toxins. While, feeling no qualm whatsoever on machine guns or massive bombs (nuclear weapons). This is a curious phenomenon, which i think is slightly intricate from ethological or evolutionary ethics point of view.
When two men fight, say, boys in high school, or duels between two gents, often it is frowned upon of devious schemes, say, a kick to the groin, or trick opponent to be drunk the night before duel. Such schemes, have the same reason that chemical weapon has insidious association. (along with, of course, biological weapons.)
Physical conflicts, from fist fights between boys to world war between nations, are inevitable in the sense that it is the nature of men. Given that it is natural and always happens, men accepted it implicitly, and its consequences of pain and hurt and death. However, devious schemes, such as a kick to the groin or chemical weapons, is not something that is natural or inevitable. And, its effect is pain and hurt. Thus, men in general, find such despicable or unethical, and thus is only employed by the very desperate or some wanton warlord.
Jay Jones gave this excellent answer (source), which i think is more correct:
There's a number of reasons, but short and sweet:
- ① It's where the line was drawn by those in a position to draw a line. Every technological advance in warfare has brought about changes. This advance came at a time when those in power were able to outlaw it. (cf. Pope Innocent II's ban of crossbow use against other christians.)
- ② Chemical weapons are different than conventional weapons in that they are largely ineffective in military use (when the combatants have gas masks and NBC gear), but quite effective in killing masses of civilians without doing any damage to infrastructure.
- ③ While a death is a death, chemical weapons are more effective as an instrument of terror rather than as an instrument of advancing strictly military goals. As such, as long as militaries agree not to use them, the world is a better place.
See: Weapons of mass destruction. Here's some interesting specifics:
Due to the indiscriminate impacts caused by WMD, the fear of WMD has shaped political policies and campaigns, fostered social movements, and has been the central theme of many films. Support for different levels of WMD development and control varies nationally and internationally. Yet understanding of the nature of the threats is not high, in part because of imprecise usage of the term by politicians and the media.
WMD had fallen out of use since the early Cold War era, when it was primarily a reference to nuclear weapons. At the time, the US stockpiles of thermonuclear weapons were regarded as a necessary deterrent against an all-out strike from the Soviet Union (see Mutual Assured Destruction). Hence the less dysphemistic military term strategic weapons fell into favor with US policy-makers who approved of, or at least condoned, the amassed American nuclear arsenal.
In 1990 and during the 1991 Gulf War, WMD was resurrected and used prolifically by politicians and the media, despite having a fairly antique aura. This time, it was a reference to the stockpiles of an adversarial country, specifically, the chemical weapons that were in Iraq under Hussein’s regime (ironically, sold to him by many of the same countries now arrayed against him). At the dawn of the War against Terrorism, the dysphemistic quality of the term served the function for which it was intended, namely, motivating the US populace to war. Weapons of mass destruction replaced strategic weapons in the common American lexicon. After 9/11, it would be the anthrax attacks, and the multitude of hypothetical smallpox terrorist attack scenarios in the media that would shape the prevalent image of a weapon of mass destruction into a device of bioterrorism. This usage reached a crescendo with the 2002 Iraq disarmament crisis and the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that became the primary justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Because of its prolific use, the American Dialect Society voted WMD the word of the year in 2002 (), and in 2003 Lake Superior State University added WMD to its list of terms banished for “Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness” ().