We must reemphasize the importance of chemical defense to maintaining deterrence and plan to increase the overall level of effort. As the bilateral and multilateral treaties are agreed and implemented, our retaliatory capability will be reduced, and chemical defense will become the key to chemical deterrence.
—Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense
Professor of history Martin van Creed has written that the rules of war exist to protect the armed forces themselves by defining a common cultural code that differentiates an army from a mob. More importantly, he states that these rules carefully define how armies can and cannot be allowed to kill other combatants and noncombatants. These are in effect a societal rule that draws the line between murder and war. Countries that ignore the rules usually provoke punishment, often through annihilation or later war crime trials. These rules of war once covered the use of crossbows, submarine warfare, strategic bombing and minelaying; today, of course, they still cover CB warfare. 1
Over the last century, nations have attempted to restrain the use of CB weapons under these special rules, though more from fear of retaliation than from moral distaste. Because of past association with strategic bombing theories developed between the world wars and after World War II, the advent of nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons have been put on the same scale as nuclear devices. Contrary to this view, CB warfare has never resulted in thousands or millions of innocent casualties, the nightmare that has driven the international arms control community to such treaties as the Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention. History has shown that nations continue to develop CB weapons because there are tactical advantages to be gained: when one combines CB weapons use with conventional military tactics against an enemy without a good defense, it dramatically reduces the time needed for victory. In these days of billion-dollar conflicts, that gets attention. Increasing global proliferation of these weapons drives the need for defensive measures despite these special “rules” of war.