Did you know that under law, only certain types of weapons are allowed to be used for warfare? I know it sounds crazy, but there is a governing body for it and breaking it can make you a war criminal. And it started because of biological warfare in the days of the Holy Roman Empire. It’s going to get a little gross at times, but it is an interesting topic, so bear with me.
Guns revolutionized warfare in Europe. But guns weren’t all that accurate until recent times. In order to make up for the limitations of accuracy, early gun battles included bullets that had been stored in either dead bodies or cesspits, ensuring they carried some very nasty bacteria into the blood stream of people being shot. It was horrifyingly effective. Eventually, it was banned after the Holy Roman Empire and France went to war and more people died from infections after the battles than during them.
The first decree declaring biological weapons (the above mentioned practice) happened in the late 1600s. And during that decree, not only could you no longer poison bullets, but you couldn’t catapult dead bodies into walled cities (totally real thing; the Mongols perfected it, although Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are all guilty of the practice). To modern day listeners, this sounds more like psychological warfare than biological warfare, but it’s both. You didn’t use fresh corpses, the best ones were the ones that had begun to bloat (remember the gross comment – skip if you have a weak stomach). These would be catapulted into the cities, it’s scary, but impact was much more gruesome as it would cause the body to explode sending gasses and diseases created by decomposition into the air of the city.
After WWI, chemical weapons joined the list of biological weapons that couldn’t be used. And this is where it gets interesting, along with Mustard gas and nerve gas, pepper spray, and tear gas are also considered chemical weapons that work on the principle of it being an irritant. So they were also banned. This means the US can use pepper spray and tear gas on it’s own people to restore law and order, but not on enemy combatants.
Japanese ingenuity created balloon bombs during WWII. Only one balloon bomb successfully reached the US, where it killed a family that was picnicking. Even though they sent up hundreds of balloon bombs. The problem with a balloon bomb is you can’t control it and it doesn’t show up on radar, meaning it can’t be prepared for. After WWII, balloon bombs joined the list of things that were banned.
Moving forward, the Vietnam War brought bans on napalm and flame throwers. Oh and spike pits, those things you see in movies where there’s something that looks like ground hiding a pit full of nasty sharp pointy things – this is actually an ancient tactic used against cavalry as well as ground troops. However, the battlefields of Asia in Korea and Vietnam showed these things to be rather destructive to soldiers and civilians alike. And they were banned.
Also on the list are plague animals; rats, locusts, fleas, etc. Anything that causes widespread destruction that cannot be effectively controlled. Thankfully, in this measure dog bombs, bat bombs, and pigeon bombs, were also banned.
There are two forms of nuclear weapons banned “dirty bombs” and “salted bombs” but nuclear weapons themselves are not on the list of banned warfare.
Just something to think about.