Weapons of Mass Destruction

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Introduction

The possibility that the United States is a potential victim of attacks of weapons of mass destruction on American soil is not an empty threat. Its reality is demonstrated by the growing rivalry between the United States and the countries suspected to have propensities to use the chemical or biological weapons. The 1993 and 2001 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center New York, the 2001 damage of the Pentagon in Washington and plane crash in Pennsylvania indicated that the US is vulnerable and target of mass-casualty terrorism. This was further substantiated by series of anthrax letters that showed biological terrorism was a reality. Although the anthrax letters did not seem to have much threat for mass casualties, the revelation of al-Qaida’s interests in weapons of mass destruction made the attacks on American soil possible. The incidents revealed that there should be concern that the perpetrators may embrace higher technology delivery systems. The question however, is to what extent is the United States prepared for nuclear, biological or chemical agent attack on its soil? The focus of this paper is to assess this Us readiness for confronting possible nuclear, chemical or biological attack. The paper will however assess the possibilities of attack and define these agents in order to have an overall assessment of the US’ preparedness.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

The center stage of international politics and security has been formed by the dangers posed by the weapons of mass destruction. The concept “weapon of mass destruction” (WMD) is used to denote the multiplicity of weapons that have two key characteristics. One is the potential capacity for large scale destruction. The second one is the indiscriminate nature of their effects. That is WMD have lethal and fatal effects to large number of people (mass) and that they do not target a specified person. Rather, they have indiscriminate effects including killing and affecting the civilians.[1] Weapons of mass destruction do not only cause deaths as short-term effect but those who may survive experience long term problems including various forms of disability. Thus WMD can for example destroy a big nation such as the United States within hour. This is the danger associated with WMD.

Although mass killing of the people is not a unique phenomenon in the world’s history, weapons of mass destruction pose unprecedented threat to security and safety or peace. Weapons of mass destruction can be classified into three major categories: nuclear weapons, chemical warfare agents and biological warfare agents. Biological warfare agents encompass attacks that are intentional release of a pathogen (disease causing agent) or biotoxin- poisonous substance produced by living organism.[2] The attacks make use of lethal bacteria, viruses or toxins. Such an attack is the anthrax letters in 2001 in the United States suspected to be caused by the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Biological weapons are characterized by their uncontrollable nature due to the quick spread of the lethal toxins. Chemical weapons on the other hand are lethal substances produced in industries are cheaper compared to nuclear weapons. A variety of commercially produced chemical constituents are available. Nuclear weapons are more sophisticated and employ technology that aims at annihilation of billions of people within a very short time. Detonation of even a small nuclear weapon can kill many people at a go. The weapon can also cause long term effects where other people may die in the course because of the dangerous effects of radiation. Chronic disease such as Cancer may also develop because of the radiation.

The US as the target or possible victim of the Weapons of Mass destruction

The bombing of Japan that ended the Second World War by the US and allies marked the initial revelation that mass destruction can be caused in the course or warfare- the use of atomic bomb. The advent of nuclear weapons significantly changed the traditional thinking about warfare. Before then countries such as Japan had engaged in extensive biological warfare. Japan had for instance had began research and development of agents and dissemination devices in the early 1930s.[3] The Japanese Program experimented with biological agents. The weapons were discovered to have the capacity to cause mass casualties and deaths. After the Second World War, the United States and the former Soviet Union embarked on extensive offensive and defensive biological weapons program. This was the arms race that characterized the Cold War. Since the bombing of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States created a platform where retaliatory attacks may take place. That is, the increasingly growing nations in Asia such as China and Japan may gain economic and military power that may facilitate offensive attacks using WMD. The nations may want to assert their military and economic prowess by attacking the United States, which may spark what may be called the “Third World War”.

Secondly, the United States’ political and economic position in the world makes the nation an inherent target for countries with ideological differences. For example, the championing of democracy and weakening of autocratic and undemocratic rules in various parts of the world by the US would serve as a reason for attack perpetrated against the US. The operations in the Middle East further make the United States vulnerable to the retaliatory attacks from radical and left wing extremities. In addition, powerful nations such as Russia have renounced offensive biological weapons programs and its vast biological research and development is in existence.  Various terrorist networks such as the al-Qaeda that have always had malevolent attitudes towards the US are also increasingly becoming inclined towards the use of weapons of mass destruction. This has contributed to the ongoing fears that the dangers of proliferation. Although the attacks may be executed in any country, the US stands the most vulnerable target based on the rivalry it has on the potential researchers, developers and users of WMD. There is proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, rise of extremist groups and the porous national boundaries paved way by globalization.[4] These inclusive factors lead to vulnerability and requirement that the United States become prepared for any eventuality. The question that begs immediate answers however is whether the United States is prepared for a nuclear, biological, or chemical agent attack on its soil? This is the focus of the subsequent parts of this paper.

US Preparedness

It has been established above that he United States is not immune to WMD attacks. Despite the international agreement (treaties) on the production and use of weapons of mass destruction, the United States remains vulnerable to offensive attacks on its soil. There was an international banning of chemical weapons dubbed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997. Further, there was a convention in 1972 (the Biological Weapons Convention- BWC) that prohibited nations from developing, retaining or transfer of biological weapons.[5] Certain international bodies such the United Nations are vested with the mandate of inspecting industries and countries to ensure that there is no production of weapons of mass destruction. These regulations and treaties may cushion nations against attacks but not necessarily. There are inconsistencies where for example the current ban on offensive biological warfare lacks grossly enforcement mechanisms. The international inspections or rule governing research and development bioweapons such as anthrax does not have rigid enforcement mechanisms. The bioweapon used in 2001 of anthrax by allegedly the al-Qaeda demonstrates not only the vulnerability of the United States but also the loopholes and inconsistencies that not guard nations against being attacked.

Various agencies and authorities have questioned the preparedness capacity of the United States against possible attacks that involve the use of weapons of mass destruction. This concern is in fact growing among public health officials, and security and defense experts- that the United States is ill prepared for a biochemical or nuclear attack. The United States might have boasted good intelligence and intelligence agencies.[6] In fact, the US security and intelligence agencies- the FBI and the CIA have been regarded as the best agencies (foe even counter-terrorism) in the world. It is thought that good intelligence is the best weapon against forms of terrorism including use of weapons of mass destruction. In added obtaining information regarding the production, producers and intention would serve as the starting point for preparedness and resilience. The CIA for instance has had agents in countries suspected to produce and proliferate weapons of mass destruction. However, intelligence agencies have not provided the best mechanism for preparedness in the United States.

Complex barriers exist on aggressive collection of information on the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction. For example, Russia’s unstable transition to democracy compounded by its dwindling economic problems has made it fertile for proliferation weapons of mass destruction. It has become the center for illegal transportation, leak and theft of major weapons technologies. His has led to the spread of weapons of mass destruction despite the US having not only military power but also intelligence agencies. It has been cited that nations such as Syria, Iran and North Korea are already developing weapons of mass destruction.[7] The possible attacks are mostly biological and or chemical than nuclear. This is because nuclear attacks are complex planning since they require advanced technology and convoluted delivery systems. It is easier for biological and chemical weapons to be smuggles in the US than the bulky and inconvenient to handle nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the loopholes in the borders and the continued proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on lethal countries do not show the effort of security and intelligence agencies to fully prepare for an attack. This is because the lack of crucial information on the production and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction would pave way for active unpreparedness.

In addition, preparedness against the attacks of weapons of mass destruction can be done at the structural level. On the initial level about intelligence discussed above, the aim is to prevent the possibilities of an attack through the discovery and disarming the countries, parties or organizations involved. However, on this other approach the structural facilities that can cope with the event of an attack using WMD are emphasized. These include the hospital and the laboratories. The United States does not have comprehensive laboratory safety laws. The governance in the laboratories does not have rigid reporting requirements for accidental releases.[8] This is primarily because the laboratories are housed differently and hence changing degrees of accountability and oversight. There is no harmony in the laboratories housed or regulated by for example higher learning institutions (such as public universities and private universities), government agencies, biotechnology companies and non-profit institutions. Lack of cohesions and coordination means that there are no concerted efforts to pool resources together to come up with comprehensive framework for countering, adapting and developing resilience for weapons of mass destruction. This is particularly pertains to the chemical and biological weapons which appeal directly to the laboratories.

Having varying degrees of accountability and oversight imply that the discourses on management of the weapons of mass destruction and their potential and actual threats are not discussed collectively by the relevant authorities. This means that there are no best practices put in place to cope with the event that the weapons are used within the American soil. The implication is that lack of such preparedness would increase the magnitude of the impact rather than lessening it. It is also possible that the attacks may not necessarily come from outside sources such as international terrorism. It is conceivable that these laboratories within the United States may be used as hubs for manufacturing and perpetuating weapons of mass destruction. They may also be used by external forces for malevolent actions. Disjointed administration of the laboratories means that it is difficult to reinforce the ethical norms that would uphold the codes of conduct. A code of conduct would essentially be a good tool to combat misapplication of biology to produce for instance biological agent.[9] Further, the training for state, federal and local officials and other personnel in relation to bioweapons’ preparedness is not as elaborate. There are few institutions that offer training pertaining to prevention, preparedness and resilience of biochemical weapons.

Closely related to the issues of laboratories discussed above is the issue of syndromic surveillance. The public health sector is not supported fully by government agencies and other institutions to fully address the issue of biological, chemical and nuclear agents. Syndromic surveillance refers to the collection of data regarding series of incidents to determine explicitly if they are a microcosm of common cases or due to other indicators. Syndromic surveillance explores the case for possible radiation terrorism. The questions posed seek answers regarding when the experiences started,  what was touched/eaten or done, when it started and whether is in an individual or a group. When there is consistent, comprehensive and well supported syndromic surveillance, it is possible to identify early enough the cases that represent foreign and unusual agents or causative factors. For example due to radiation, syndromic surveillance would help isolate ordinary cases with the increased level of skin problem in the populace. This way an attack using a biological or chemical agent can be detected earlier for equally comprehensive measures. The latter measures would be guided by the concerted efforts by the cohesion of the laboratories. Such central coordination is however not done by the various laboratories in the United States. This is because of the aforementioned lack of comprehensive laboratory safety and coordination laws. The result is that there is no national disease surveillance that can detect outbreaks that result from nuclear, biological or chemical agents as in the weapons of mass destruction. The issue nevertheless represents unpreparedness of the United States in relation to a nuclear, biological, or chemical agent attack.

Although there are instances that can be cited to represent the unpreparedness of the United States in relation to a nuclear, biological, or chemical agent attack, there are measures taken though. It is recognized that preparedness calls for coordination of several federal agencies as well as state and local agencies. Private sectors can also be included to inject synergy for preparedness. A good indication of the involvement federal agencies is the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.  The Congress created the Department of Homeland Security which was vested with the role of consolidating several US departments that are responsible for defenses against actions of terrorism that can also include attacks by weapons of mass destruction. Further, the commitment of the government to prepare for nuclear and biochemical attacks is reflected by inoculation of several healthcare, emergency service, law enforcement and military personnel against smallpox. Notably, biological attack can take many forms including anthrax or small pox. The government also pledged to fund production of vaccines and treatments against chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (CBWMD).

In the spirit, there was creation of a surveillance system that was designed to detect the release of deadly germs such as small pox and anthrax. The program dubbed Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program also provided funding to increase the capacity of healthcare facilities and hospitals to handle or manage the victims exposed to chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Hospital Association, Center for civil Biodefense Strategies and American Hospital Association have provided guidelines for the preparedness of hospitals managing patients exposed to chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.[10]

However, despite the above mentioned efforts and strategies, there is overwhelming claim and evidence that there is large proportion of hospitals that remain unprepared.[11] The hospitals are not fully prepared for comprehensive response to mass casualty disaster such as a nuclear, biological, or chemical agent attack. This is because as it has been noted, the attacks of this nature spread very quickly and kill people in a short time. Additionally, the focus is only on biochemical preparedness. Although nuclear attacks have been found to be not as common and likely as the biochemical ones, focusing only on the latter does not represent preparedness.

Conclusion

The United States is no longer immune to nuclear, biological, or chemical agent attack on its soil. The attacks of September 11 and the bioattack of anthrax showed that the nation is vulnerable to attacks by WMD. Nuclear, chemical and biological agents for WMD attack. The question is whether the United States is prepared for such eventuality and if so, to what extent. Based on the evidence put forth in the discussion, the US is not prepared for CBWMD and nuclear attacks. In this paper, it has been established that the US has embarked on strategies to either cushion the nation and its people from the attacks or prepare. For example, the formation of the Department of Homeland Security was in line with preparing for and countering terror terrorism including attacks involving CBWMD. Programs such as Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Programs were flagged. Agencies such as CDC and American Hospital Association and Center for Civil Biodefense Strategies were formed. The hospitals were also empowered to handle CBWMD patients. However, these measures have not been effective and many hospitals lack the capacity to handle CBWMD victims. Further, the focus is on biochemical attack while nuclear agents are not emphasized. In addition, there is disjointed syndromic surveillance and the laboratories are disjointed with varying degrees of oversight and accountability. This way, there is no agreed course for best practices and reinforcement of ethical norms to combat misapplication of biology. The US intelligence also though deemed effective in gathering of information to thwart WMD proliferation has not contained the issue especially in Russia.

Reference

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

Barbara, Joseph A.; MacIntyre, Anthony G.; DeAtly, Craig A.: “Ambulances to nowhere: America’s critical shortfall in medical preparedness for catastrophic terrorism. Journal of Homeland Security, March 2002.

Busch, N. E., & Joyner, D. (2009). Combating weapons of mass destruction: The future of international nonproliferation policy. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Chatterjee, A. (2010). International relations today. New Delhi: Dorling Kindersley

Cordesman, A. H., & Al-Rodhan, K. R. (2006). Iran’s weapons of mass destruction: The real and potential threat. Washington, D.C: Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Henderson, Donald A.: “The looming threat of bioterrorism,” Science, 1999, 283, 1279-1282.

Laura, R. (n.d). Weapons of Mass Destruction. Retrieved on January 21 2015 from: https://www.hampshire.edu/pawss/weapons-of-mass-destruction

Linzer, Dafna. “Could they pull it off?” TheWashington Post National Weekly Edition, (22)12,January 10-16, 2005. 12

National Academies and the US Department of Homeland Security (n.d). Biological Attack. National Academies.

[1] Laura, R. (n.d). Weapons of Mass Destruction. Retrieved on January 21 2015 from: https://www.hampshire.edu/pawss/weapons-of-mass-destruction

[2] National Academies and the US Department of Homeland Security (n.d). Biological Attack. (National Academies) 1

Chatterjee, A. (2010). International relations today. New Delhi: Dorling Kindersley) 153

Bottom of Form

[4] Ibid 54

Busch, N. E., & Joyner, D. (2009). Combating weapons of mass destruction: The future of international nonproliferation policy. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Bottom of Form

Cordesman, A. H., & Al-Rodhan, K. R. (2006). Iran’s weapons of mass destruction: The real and potential threat. Washington, D.C: Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Bottom of Form

[7] Linzer, Dafna. “Could they pull it off?” TheWashington Post National Weekly Edition, (22)12,January 10-16, 2005. 12

[8] Laura, R. (n.d). Weapons of Mass Destruction. Retrieved on January 21 2015 from: https://www.hampshire.edu/pawss/weapons-of-mass-destruction

[9] Laura, R. (n.d). Weapons of Mass Destruction. Retrieved on January 21 2015 from: https://www.hampshire.edu/pawss/weapons-of-mass-destruction

[10] Barbara, Joseph A.; MacIntyre, Anthony G.; DeAtly, Craig A.: “Ambulances to nowhere: America’s critical shortfall in medical preparedness for catastrophic terrorism. Journal of Homeland

Security, March 2002.

[11] Henderson, Donald A.: “The looming threat of bioterrorism,” Science, 1999, 283, 1279-1282.

Essay Tutors
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why You Should Choose Us

Affordable Prices

Since we know that we are dealing with students, either part time or full time, many might be having financial constraints, but still want to pursue academic life. This has made us ensure we have very affordable prices, and wonderful discounts, yet give high quality products.

Professional Writers

Our reputation has been built because of the dedicated and highly qualified writers in our team. The writers give clients high quality products which guarantees return clients and referrals.

Quality

Our team is dedicated to giving clients the best quality products. However, if a paper does not meet the requirements stated by the client, our team will provide free revisions to the satisfaction of the client.

Moneyback guarantee policy

We believe that clients should get value for their money. If the client finds that the product has not met the requirements stated, we will refund the amount paid.

Original papers

We understand how plagiarism can ruin clients’ careers and reputation. We thus strive to provide original papers to our clients. We use several tools to check plagiarism. This ensures that clients get products that meet their institutions’ standards.

24/7 Customer Support

You can reach our support team via, live chat, email or phone. All your issues will be dealt with asap as the team works round the clock.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

You have other errands to run? No need to worry. Place your order with us, carry out your errands while we do your paper and deliver on time.

Blog Writing

Give us a topic you want your blog based on, and let our team handle the rest. You will get the best article to be published in any forum you want. We have able team to do all the work for you.

Assignments

Many students are given assignments by their tutors. However, students find it challenging to just even come up with a topic. This should no longer be a problem to you. Just visit our site, contact the support team that will help you place your order, and find the best writer to handle the assignment.

Dissertation Services

Dissertation has proven to be challenging to most students. For this reason, we have specialized writers who handles only these kind of papers. You will be in constant touch with the writer and the support team once you place a dissertation order to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Editing and Proofreading

Some students have good points and writing prowess. However, they make minor mistakes that deny them good grades. To avoid such cases, you can give us your already written paper so that our team can edit it to the correct formatting style, language, proper flow and the correct academic language. This gives you an upper hand to get the best grade than a person whose job has not been edited.