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Discuss four advantages and the four disadvantages of biological weapons (biowarfare). Include relevant examples to support your evaluation.

  • 1.0 Introductions

War is something that is dreaded by mankind. This is because the main goal of the war was to kill and destroy their enemies. Biological weapon is one of the methods used by mankind instead of nuclear and chemical weapons. Biological weapon is rooted in the ancient past and it became a science in the early 20th century following the breakthrough discoveries in microbiology and immunology of the late 1800s. Biological Warfare" is the use of disease to harm or kill an adversary's military forces, population, food, and livestock. This includes any living(or non-living virus) microorganism or bioactive substance that is produced by a microorganism that can be delivered by conventional warhead or even civilian means.

Biological weapons are used of microorganisms, organisms and toxins in causing disease and death towards living things such as human, animal and plant. Microorganisms used in biological weapon are bacteria, virus and fungi that can act as pathogen towards human or other living things. In the simplest sense, the direction of biological weapons against military or national defense is biowarfare.

  • 2.0 Four Advantages of Biological Weapon

  • 2.1 Biological weapons are relatively easy to deliver and dissemination

Biological agent is the most important component in biological weapons. Biological weapons are relatively easy to deliver and dissemination because they are easy to hide and difficult to detect or protect against. They are invisible, odorless, tasteless, and can be spread silently. Biological weapons are unique in their invisibility and their delayed effects. This biological weapons are low visibility and undetectable to spy technology.

Biological weapons are unconventional weapons that can be delivered by unconventional means such as aerosol sprays, food and water contamination, conventional explosive munitions

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or by covert injections. Biological weapons are a weapon that is easy to be delivered and disseminated towards enemy without any notice because of its smaller size. The size of particle is very important and the size range of particles should be 1 to 5 µm in diameter. This is to provide and allow good penetration into the lungs of humans. Particles larger than this would either settle out onto the ground or be filtered out in the upper respiratory tract of those who inhale them. According to Agarwal, Shukla, Dharmani, & Gandhi (2004), because of their particle size which is 1-5µm, biological weapons are most efficiently delivered to their target area which is the air sacs of lung in human body. This is because to be infected, a person must breathe a sufficient quantity of particles into the lungs to cause illness.

An adversary designing a biological weapon would therefore seek to produce such a small particle size, and would require the equipment and technology to do so. Aerosol generators will generate particle of optimal size which is around 1 to 5 µm. Particles in this size range are invisible to the human eye. Thus, a cloud of such particles would not generally be detected by those attacked, even if such a cloud were to be carried through their position (M.Eitzen, Jr., M.P.H, & Facep, n.d.). Biological weapons agents could be spread using equipment for producing aerosol such as spray devices, via bombs or missiles. They could also be dispersed from airplanes, ships, vehicles, or, as we have recently seen, via letters or mails.

or by covert injections. Biological weapons are a weapon that is easy to be delivered and

Mode of delivery of biological weapons

For example, 2001 Anthrax attacks were a series of incidents in the United States involving biological weapons. This biological weapon attack is also known as Amerithrax. The attacks began on Tuesday, September 18, 2001 and lasted for several weeks. Bacillus anthracis was delivered via mail. The anthrax spores were put in envelopes and sent to several news media offices and two of the United State senate offices. There were 31 people were infected and five people were died. It was believed that the person who was responsible for this attack was Dr.

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Bruce Ivins, senior biodefense researcher and also involving al-Qaeda, a group of extremist and terrorist.

Bruce Ivins, senior biodefense researcher and also involving al-Qaeda, a group of extremist and terrorist. 2001

2001 Anthrax Attack in United States of America

  • 2.2 Biological weapons can end war quickly

Probably the biggest advantage of most biological weapons is the killing efficiency that can end war quickly. Smallpox, Ebola, Marburg virus, and Japanese encephalitis (JE), are among of biological weapons that have a reputation for causing a more horrifying illness. Only small quantities are required to cause large and terrifying effects (Roffey, Lantorp, Tegnell, & Elgh,

2002).

Many biological weapons components are highly concentrated. a few drops of certain virus, bacteria or toxins can literally kill millions of people once they hit the air, food or water supply within a community. This will eliminate the enemy population quickly and effectively without using destructive forces. It is estimated that 1 gram of toxin could kill 10 million people. A purified form of botulinum toxin is approximately 3 million times more potent than Sarin, a chemical nerve agent. As a comparison, a SCUD missile filled with botulinum toxin could affect an area of 3700 sq. km, an area 16X greater than could be affected with Sarin.

Bruce Ivins, senior biodefense researcher and also involving al-Qaeda, a group of extremist and terrorist. 2001

Biological weapons can end war quickly because it can kill millions of people using a small dose of biological weapons. In a war, biological weapon was used to weaken the enemy by paralyzing the number of soldiers and led to loss of life. They will start to panic and seeking for treatment and cure of the disease. This automatically will lead to end of war quickly.

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The history had shown us how exactly biological weapons can end war quickly. During second war, one method used by the Japanese in Manchuria was dropping rice and plague infected fleas out of airplanes (Katz, 2001). This area is not occupied by any Japanese. The rice attracted rats, which then became infected with the fleas, thus creating efficient epidemiologic conditions by which the disease spread to humans over a large geographic area. This action had infected many numbers of people in China for that time being. When the League of Nations sent a commission to investigate Japan’s actions in Manchuria, Japanese military officials attempted, unsuccessfully, to poison their food with cholera. This show how Japanese weaken their enemy using biological weapon and able to defeat and conquer China at that time.

The history had shown us how exactly biological weapons can end war quickly. During second war,

Japanese in Macnchuria, China

Besides causing physically effect such as epidemic, disease and death, biological weapons also had physiological effect towards human being that can end war quickly. Images on the patients, death of infected people, doctors, nurses, and law enforcement personnel in full protective gear could cause widespread public distraction and anxiety. These factors allow those who use biological weapons to inculcate fear and cause confusion among their victims and to escape undetected. It is clear that biowarfare attack would not only cause sickness and death in a large number of victims but would also aim to create fear, panic, and paralyzing uncertainty. Its goal is disruption of social and economic activity, the breakdown of government authority, and the impairment of military responses. Hence, this will contribute to the end of war.

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2.3

Biological weapons are low in cost

Another advantage is the cost effectiveness of biological weapons. In order to "affect" 1 square kilometer, it would cost approximately $2000 using conventional weapons, $800 using nuclear weapons, $600 using chemical weapons, but it only cost $1.00 using biological weapons. This fact has caused biological agents to be called as Poor Man's Atomic Bomb.

Biological weapons are weapons that low in cost is due to its agent are available naturally from living organisms and does not need advance invention to be used as a weapon. Biological weapon’s agent can be found mostly from our surrounding. Biological weapons are effectively deadly partially because of how cheaply and easily they can be made. Literally anyone able to create their own crude biological weapons if they have the flu and leave samples of the virus in container that they can manage to keep the virus alive over time. The infected people also can became agent of biological weapon because they can transmit disease easily without involve additional cost. That’s why biological weapons are low in cost.

Examples of biological weapons are corpse, animal’s poison, infected human, plants, animals, and existence contagious disease. In primitive times, poisoning and fecal contamination of arrows, spears, and fungi sticks were commonly used (Hilleman, 2002). Poison used usually comes from natural poison that comes from animals and plants while the fecal contamination can be found from human and animal’s fecal. This involves very low cost but efficiently work as a weapon.

2.3 Biological weapons are low in cost Another advantage is the cost effectiveness of biological weapons.

Vietnam-American War

In Vietnam-American War, according to history, even though Vietnam is lack of advance technology in term of weapons and known as poor country, Vietnamese able to defeat American

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soldier by using one of its strategy which is using biological weapon.

They use traps that had

been put with poison from animal and fecal. Many of American soldier dead because of their brilliant strategy.

  • 2.4 Biological weapons are availability and ease of production

Another term for biological weapons is Lazy Man's Atomic Bomb. This is because of its availability and the ease of production. As we all know, the characteristic of ideal biological agents are relatively easy to acquire, process, and use. Biological agents are often simpler to acquire and produce than nuclear, chemical or some conventional weapons. Only small amounts would be needed to kill or incapacitate hundreds of thousands of people in targeted area.

Biological weapons are easily to produce. Other weapons are produced through further and advance investigation that involve time, cost and human power. However, for biological weapons it only takes low cost, less time and less human power. Biological weapons such as poison from animals are easy to get which is the biological weapon can be obtain directly from animal. Animal cadavers substituted for poisons during the Greek and Roman eras and Emperor Barbarossa used human corpses to the same end, although it is likely that a simple spoiling of the water supply, rather than the spreading of disease, was intended (Frischknecht, 2008). Another example is Hannibal suggested a more active approach when advising the Bithynians to catapult jars filled with snakes towards enemy ships in 184 BC.

Besides that, victim of infected disease also contribute to the easiness of production biological weapons. Military leaders in the Middle Ages recognized that victims of infectious

diseases

could

become

weapons themselves.

Along with this is the fact that with certain organisms, only a few particles would be needed to start an infection (produce biological weapon) that could potentially cause an epidemic. Conventional weapons explode once and are finished. With a few particles of Hanta virus many thousands of people could become carriers that infect thousands more people. This is a bonus for biological weapons if we compared to others weapons.

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1346 Siege of Caffa which also known as Spelled Kaffa. Kaffa now is known as Feodosija at Ukraine. This tragic incident involved the most gruesome and crudest example of biological warfare when the bodies of Mongol warriors of the Golden Horde who had died of plague were thrown over the walls of the besieged Crimean city of Kaffa. This is happen when the city could not be taken, the attackers catapulted corpses of their soldiers who had died of plague over the city walls (Roffey et al., 2002). This show that Mongolian does not need high cost to create biological weapons. They just used infected Mongolians warriors that are dead from plague. Mountains of dead people were thrown into the city. Many of the inhabitants are infected. This resulted in many deaths if we compared from the Black Death (plague).

1346 Siege of Caffa which also known as Spelled Kaffa. Kaffa now is known as Feodosija

Siege of Caffa

  • 3.0 Four Disadvantages of Biological Weapons

  • 3.1 Biological Weapons are massive amounts of collateral damage

Biological weapons are known as massive amounts of collateral damage because it involves a lot of people and not only on targeted enemies. In addition, biowarfare will produce

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collateral damage not only during biowarfare but also during tested period of the weapons. It is estimated that several tens of thousands of people died as a consequence of offensive biological research, including soldiers on both sides. In any given population, there are going to be civilians who are not active combatants in whatever conflict is going on. Biological warfare eliminates the entire population center, not just the military forces. This means that a toxin or biological agents released in a city of millions could potentially murder over a million people in the name of war.

Example, in World War II, Japanese conduct a large scale human experiments and biological warfare in China. This project was started by the radical nationalist Shiro Ishii. He started his research in 1930 and became the first head of Japan’s bioweapon program during World War II. This evil project was conducted by Unit 731. At its peak, the program employed over 5000 people, killing as many as 600 prisoners a year in human experiments in the largest of its many centers. According to Frischknecht (2008), at least 25 different disease causing agents were cruelly tested on prisoners and unsuspecting civilians. Water wells in Chinese villages were poisoned to study cholera and typhus outbreaks. Plague infested fleas were dropped by plane over Chinese cities or distributed by saboteurs in rice fields and along roads, causing epidemics in areas where the plague was unknown, some persisting for years after the war ended.

collateral damage not only during biowarfare but also during tested period of the weapons. It is

Japanese Biological Weapon’s Project in China during World War II

Biological weapons infected a lot of innocent people especially during testing period. In

  • 1966 Bacillus subtilis

was released into the subway system of New York City to determine how

vulnerable it was to attack. Results showed that the entire underground tunnel system could be infected by release in only one station due to the winds created by the trains. This is so cruel and inhumanity act had occurred.

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Smallpox is one of biological weapons that will cause collateral damage. According to Stern et al. (2003) Smallpox, which killed some 300 million people in the twentieth century alone, is highly contagious and lethal to 30 percent of those it infects. There is no treatment other than vaccination within four days of exposure. Since 1980, when the World Health Organization (WHO) certified that smallpox had been eradicated, few countries have maintained vaccine stocks that will be use as potential biological weapon. If smallpox were released, much of the world’s population would be vulnerable. Hence, it is supported here that biological weapons are massive amounts of collateral damage.

  • 3.2 Biological Weapons efficiency is depends on weather and certain conditions

The use of biological weapons must fulfill certain conditions in order to have an efficient biological weapon’s effect. We need to consider few conditions before releasing the biological agent. Weather plays an important role in dispersing and distributing the biological weapons towards target area or enemies. There are also few biological weapons, which its dispersion must be done at night or early morning. This is due to their limitation towards sun’s radiation that will disrupt the efficiency and dispersion of biological weapons.

Smallpox is one of biological weapons that will cause collateral damage. According to Stern et al.

Ebola virus had limitation towards sun radiation

For example, Ebola virus is very sensitive towards hot temperature and also sun radiation. Hence, in order to deliver or disperse to targeted enemies or area, they need to do it in the condition that is low in temperature and early at the morning and night.

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As been mention earlier that biological weapons agents can be spread using equipment for producing aerosol such as spray devices, via bombs or missiles and also can be dispersed from airplanes, ships or vehicles. In this case, the direction of wind also needs to be in correct order and orientation. Even if there is a small change in direction of wind, this will cause biological weapon to attack its producer back.

  • 3.3 Biological Weapons had long life span

The life span is another major concern. These agents are living creatures that have a chance of becoming a part of the local microflora. If we spray an area and kill enemy troops, how long is

safe before our troops can follow up? There is no 100% way to be sure. biological agent is unpredictable.

The life span of this

Biological agent is a living microorganism that can immersed and adapt with certain condition in order to survive. Hence, it is hard for us to guarantee that there is no more biological weapon that exist in certain area even though it takes millions of years.

The history had shown us that Gruinard Island, situated at the coast of Scotland was chosen as the site for biological weapon testing during World War II. The island was tested with Anthrax spores. The island contaminated with Anthrax and around 1986, 280 tans of formaldehyde had been sprayed throughout the island to kill the spores. The original idea for

decontamination was to start a brushfire that burned off the top of the soil and killed all traces of the organisms. Unfortunately, the spores unexpectedly embedded themselves in the soil so total decontamination of the island was impossible. As long as no ground is disturbed, we are supposedly safe, but how about birds or others animals that travel back and forth from mainland to island knew about this. A tragic consequence of this testing is that even today Gruinard Island

is contaminated with

Bacillus anthracis spores.

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Gruinard Island 3.4 Biological Weapons will destroy the value of humanity The effect of biological weapon

Gruinard Island

  • 3.4 Biological Weapons will destroy the value of humanity

The effect of biological weapon is not only at certain time, certain place nor certain people or neither animal. Its effect includes so many innocent people and also unknown period of time. Value of humanity is becoming the last aspect that will be considered by the creator of biological weapon. The first aim and consideration of this creator are just to win the battle in war and also to show off their power to their enemies. They will not care about how and who involved in the testing process and during the real situation. Biological weapons are destroying the value of humanity.

Gruinard Island 3.4 Biological Weapons will destroy the value of humanity The effect of biological weapon

Japanese cruel experiment towards China’s people

World War I and II had become field for those countries to show off their power by creating and applying biological weapons. The worse thing ever, it is believed that large number

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of soldier is dead because of diseases arise from biological weapons if compared to death during war. The most inhumanity act was occurred during the World War II, where Japanese had done many test towards China’s civilians. 3000 victims had been exposed to many infectious diseases such as Siphillis, Anthrax, and other biological agents. This inhumanity act is not stop at this way. After the victim had been infected with the disease, they start to do further investigation towards the victims until they get the result that they want. Human’s life is not important for them and this is act is so cruel and inhumanity.

In British-Native American War, this war had shown us that human can do anything to win battle without concern about value of humanity. They want to destroy the population of Native American. Hence, British had given Native American blanket that is infected by Smallpox virus and lot of Native American died due to this infection (Frischknecht, 2008).

of soldier is dead because of diseases arise from biological weapons if compared to death during

British-Native American War

4.0 Conclusion

Biological weapon is known for its effectiveness as weapons because of its visibility and dispersion. It had been the scariest weapon because its impact is very high and had a long life span. As been mentioning earlier, biological weapons had its own advantages and disadvantages. From my point of view, we can use biological weapon only for defensive purpose and not to start

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war to our enemy or defeated country. The intention from the usage of biological weapon is the key indicator for the right to use biological weapon.

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