What Makes a Weapon Inhumane?


Since the beginning of mankind as a species, weapons have been some of our cleverest and most important inventions. Over hundreds and thousands of years of war and killing, humanity has continued to devise new ways to kill one another. Often in brutal fashion. From the club, to the spear to the bow, the catapult, the musket up till today, with those nukes we looked at in the last video. They all serve the same purpose but, over the course of several international conventions some of these weapons have been banned from warfare for being too inhumane If the sole purpose of these devices is to kill the enemy, What makes one method more inhumane than another? Lets say you and I are on different sides of a military conflict in the mid 1600s We’re taking shots at each other with our horribly inaccurate rifles, until finally you get a hit. Luckily for me your bullet just grazed me. Somewhat less luckily I die from infections a few days later Why? Because it the 1600s and you like to store your bullets in corpses or latrine pits to make sure that if you do manage to hit somebody, they die from infection. This storing of bullets in poisonous or infectious substances was the catalyst for the Strasbourg Agreement of 1675 The first ever international agreement banning the use of chemical weapons The general sentiment was that using such an indirect and unpleasant means to kill the enemy was not befitting the principles of “civilized warfare”. Lets fast forward to the 22nd of April, 1915 The second battle of Ypres in Belgium during WW1 saw the first successful mass use of poison gas in war. The german army released 171 tons of chlorine gas over a stretch of about 6.5 kilometers. Chlorine gas is a really nasty substance. It irritates the eyes and skin and when inhaled it reacts violently with the human body causing the lungs to fill with fluid. Those unlucky enough to be caught in the gas cloud often drown painfully from the fluid inside their own lungs As chlorine gas was a rather new development in weaponry the methods the germans used to deploy it was quite crude. The chlorine was stored in nearly 6000 cylinders weighing 41 kilograms each. Which the germans carried by hand to the frontlines. The canisters was opened by hand as soon as the winds shifted towards the French Releasing a sweeping clump of noxious gas. The germans themselves suffered many injuries and deaths from their own gas as it was impossible to control once out of the canisters. When the chlorine reached the French lines within 10 minutes 6000 had died due to aspyixiation and tissue damage to the lungs. Since chlorine gas is denser than air it quickly flown down into the trenches causing the French troops to scramble over the top to escape… … right into german gunfire. Chlorine gas and several other poisonous chemicals continued to see use throughout the rest of the war. Accounted for 1.3 million casaulties and were the driving factor behind the well-known Geneva Protocol of 1925 It’s full title was: The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. Doesn’t exaltly roll off the tongue… In essence, the Geneva Protocol is a treaty that bans the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts. Like the Strassburg Aggreement. The thinking behind the generic protocol was that chemical weapons caused unnecessary pain and suffering in its victims as well as significant mental and emotional trauma several years later WWII came along and with it a new batch of devious weapons the Japanese employed horrible booby traps to defend their homeland the most famous being the hidden spike fits soldiers would step on a thin layer of foliage and tumble down into rows of sharpened bamboo spikes to make matters worse the Japanese often coded despite his human or animal feces which led to terrible infections among the injured these traps killed and maimed thousands of troops over the course of the war the Americans had their own new toys as well namely the two atomic bombs that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki world WWII also saw the devastating use of napalm napalm was the ideal incendiary weapons because it was incredibly simple and cheap to produce it was stable and it stuck to whatever it hit all those features made napalm very popular and accounted for more dead Japanese soldiers and civilians and the two atomic bombs once the dust of the Second World War settled America enjoyed relative peace until the disastrous vietnam war with the jungle terrain came new means of killing what better way to clear foliage and flush out the enemy then by using fire a flamethrower used extensively in both world wars proved itself particularly useful and torching entire villages and hideouts napalm bombs also saw extensive use with the u.s. reportedly dropping about 388,000 tons of it over the course of the war compared to 16,500 times in World to the Vietnam War was hugely unpopular among the American public for many reasons among those were concerned that these fire weapons were cruel and inhumane sure enough on october tense 1980 the united nations convention on certian conventional weapons came to a close and with it came to legislation that prohibited the use of many different types of weapons incendiary devices are listed under what’s referred to as protocol 3, which restricts their use in any situation in which civilians are present interestingly napalm isn’t entirely banned it can be used to set fire to forested areas that conceal enemy troops or vehicles but it’s strictly prohibited in civilian inhabited areas other weapons ban by the CCCW include any form of gas, including tear gas, which can still be used in domestic riots, oddly enough, Spike Pits, undetectable fragment weapons meaning any weapon with the primary effect of leaving shrapnel in human body that is undetectable by x-ray also included are non self-destructing and non self-deactivating mines outside fenced monitored and marked areas these mines must also be removed from the conflict is resolved and finally perhaps more relevant to today’s battlefield blinding laser weapons, any weapon with the ability to cause permanent blindness or severe irreversible eye damage is strictly prohibited. so what do we make of all this, even though we have a long list of prohibited weapons what’s the common thread? what exactly makes them more inhumane than a bayonet or a 50 caliber machine gun? As you may have guessed the main concern is not for the combatant but for civilian populations the protocols are very firm on the position that indiscriminate weapons (weapons that cannot be used to target only hostile troops) must never be used that includes cluster bombs they can blanket a wide area large explosives like nuclear bombs and hidden weapons such as mines and booby traps, of course the secondary concern for the CCW was indeed the humanity of the combatants death at the hands of another is certainly a tragic fate but at least nations have been able to come together and recognize that no one deserves to suffer unnecessarily the future of war is bound to be interesting with later restrictions and technological advances maybe we’ll even see a complete ban on human involvement in war computers and drones of all sorts stand poised to change the battlefield forever we’ll just have to wait and see how long it takes that future to arrive as always this video is intended to spark your curiosity in the subject if you’d like to learn more about banned or inhumane weapons check out the links in the discription if you enjoyed this video please take a moment to subscribe to my channel to help me keep posting two videos a week feel free to leave a like or dislike as you please and tell me what you think about banned weapons and warfare in general in the comments you can watch my previous video by clicking here or binge watch them all by clicking here thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next video

Comments 100

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *