Last Updated 02 Apr 2020

Weapons of Mass Destruction

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The term Weapons of Mass Destruction has two indications. In its broader, literal sense, it is used to refer to weapons whose destructive power far surpasses that of guns or conventional explosives. However, the term is more often used in a narrower sense, to refer specifically to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which raised awareness of America’s vulnerability, the United States has greatly intensified its efforts to stop the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

When the president and other officials refer to “weapons of mass destruction,” they usually mean NBC weaponry. An organism or toxin found in nature is used in them that is meant to kill or incapacitate an enemy. Though there are different types and they are made up of different ingredients, they are all meant to kill and do significant destruction. The United States Military refers to them as "weapons that are capable of high order destruction and being used to destroy large numbers of people. " Many countries posses weapons of mass destruction for one main cause.

Because they "generate a culture of fear", they are held in reserve by countries as a scare tactic. They are set aside to be used as a threat, if another country were to use them, they would in turn be bombed with weapons of mass destruction. During the Cold War, the term "weapons of mass destruction" was primarily a reference to nuclear weapons. At the time, in the West the euphemism "strategic weapons" was used to refer to the American nuclear arsenal, which was presented as a necessary deterrent against nuclear or conventional attack from the Soviet Union.

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The term "weapons of mass destruction" continued to see periodic use throughout this time, usually in the context of nuclear arms control; Ronald Reagan used it during the 1986 Reykjavik Summit, when referring to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Reagan's successor, George H. W. Bush, used the term in an 1989 speech to the United Nations, using it primarily in reference to chemical arms. The end of the Cold War reduced U. S. reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent, causing it to shift its focus to disarmament. This period coincided with an increasing threat to U. S. nterests from Islamic nations and independent Islamic groups. With the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and 1991 Gulf War, Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs became a particular concern of the first Bush Administration. Following the war, Bill Clinton and other western politicians and media continued to use the term, usually in reference to ongoing attempts to dismantle Iraq's weapons programs. After the September 11, 2001 attacks and the 2001 anthrax attacks, an increased fear of non-conventional weapons and asymmetrical warfare took hold of the United States and other Western powers.

This fear 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. However, no WMD were found in Iraq. Due to the indiscriminate impact of WMDs, the fear of a WMD attack 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. Fear of WMD, or of threats diminished by the possession of WMD, has long been used to catalyze public support for various WMD policies. They include mobilization of pro- and anti-WMD campaigners alike, and generation of popular political support. The term WMD may be used as a powerful buzzword, or to generate a culture of fear. It is also used ambiguously, particularly by not distinguishing among the different types of WMD.

A television commercial called Daisy, promoting Democrat Lyndon Johnson's 1964 presidential candidacy, invoked the fear of a nuclear war and was an element in Johnson's subsequent election. More recently, the threat of potential WMD in Iraq was used by President George W. Bush to generate public support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Broad reference to Iraqi WMD in general was seen as an element of President Bush's arguments. As Paul Wolfowitz explained: "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on. To date, however, Coalition forces have found mainly degraded artillery shells.

There was almost no dissent on the issue. Molly Ivins wrote : "the ONLY source to report skeptically on the administration's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war? Knight-Ridder and its terrific reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay. ". On June 21, 2006, United States Senator Rick Santorum claimed that "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons. According to the Washington Post, he was referring to 500 such shells "that had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988. " That night, "intelligence officials reaffirmed that the shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. " The shells had been uncovered and reported on in 2004. In 2004 Polish troops found nineteen 1980s-era rocket warheads, thwarting an attempt by militants to buy them at $5000 each.

Some of the rockets contained extremely deteriorated nerve agent. Limits on WMD by the US scare allied countries. The US nuclear umbrella is the primary contributor to the security of Europe and for Asia. Lack of confidence in the US umbrella causes European nations to either build up their current arsenals, or embark on entirely new nuclear weapons programs. Nuclear proliferation in Europe causes massive instability there because of the threat it poses to Russia. Asian proliferation threatens conflicts with China.

The odds that an asteroid that could potentially wipe out all life on earth are high. A massive asteroid may have been responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The only defense earth has against these asteroids is nuclear weapons. Were we to disarm completely, we would be unable to shoot down an incoming asteroid, condemning all life to extinction. The military-industrial complex is a powerful constituency in the US. Limits on one type of WMD scare the military-industrial complex. They will feel frightened that the US will be unable to defend itself without its current array of weaponry.

To compensate, they will develop new forms of WMDs that are even more destructive, like nanotechnology. Any arms control initiative requires a substantial outlay of money to implement. Decommissioning weapons systems takes funds. Verifiable agreements demand substantial investment in inspections and monitoring. The US cannot afford to spend more money, given the precarious situation its budget is in. Busting the budget could have a terrible effect on the economy, perhaps triggering an economic collapse

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Weapons of Mass Destruction. (2017, Apr 10). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/weapons-mass-destruction/

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