This panel was part of the Carnegie Peacebuilding Conversations, a three-day program at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. It is presented in cooperation with Carnegie institutions worldwide and other partners. For more information, click here. To see the full video of this panel, click here.
REED BONADONNA: My name is Reed Bonadonna. I'm a senior fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and my particular job is to run the World War I Legacy project that the Carnegie Council has been doing for a little over a year.
A little over a year ago, the Carnegie Council sent out calls for proposals to a variety of people and gave it pretty wide distribution to submit proposals for a World War I Legacy project to receive a stipend, receive fellowship support from the Carnegie Council in doing their work on some aspect of the First World War and its legacy. We got a lot of good submissions, over 50 solid submissions, formed a committee. After considerable deliberation, we knocked that down to nine Fellows who were selected to receive the stipend, receive the fellowship ongoing over the coming 20 months of the period of time of this project. Four of those Fellows are here with me today to present their work. The other five will be forming a panel, and one, an independent speaker, in New York in the fall in the next couple of months.
Let me introduce the four presenters, and then I'll just say a couple of things in general terms about the project, and then I want to turn it right over to them, and as soon as they're finished, I want to turn it right over to you for questions.
First of all, Mary Barton, a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, post-doctorate at Dartmouth, currently a historian with the United States Defense Department with a particular interest in terrorism, and she's going to be talking about the legacy of state-sponsored terrorism from the First World War.
Phil Caruso next. He's a graduate of Cornell. He's currently at Harvard Law School. He's a former active-duty Air Force officer and currently Reserve Air Force intel officer. In fact, he is just coming off a drill, and he's going to be talking about the rules and the laws concerning the use of airpower dating back to the First World War and the legacy of that era.
Zach Dorfman, who in addition to having his World War I fellowship is also a senior fellow for the Carnegie Council. He is bravely making his living as an independent journalist these days, and he has an interest in chemical warfare—he's already published on that subject—and he'll be talking about the rules concerning chemical warfare.
Last is Richard Millett, who has had a long, distinguished career of expertise in Latin America in particular, and he is going to be talking about the impact of the First World War on the Western Hemisphere. He has been doing a lot of original research, as they all have, over the last few months and found some very interesting sources about this neglected area of First World War history.
I'll just say in general that this has been a very enjoyable year for me. Particularly in the last couple of days all the fellows, we have become in a way more than colleagues. We've become friends as well. So it has been very interesting and enjoyable.
I've learned a lot about the First World War. I'm not a particular expert in the First World War. I think for me also it has helped to address the age-old question concerning the relevance of history. How much knowledge about how we live now can we expect when we go to the historical record? What is the expectation for the relevance of history on the way we're living our lives now?
I think for me following the work of all four Fellows—I've interviewed all four of them; those are on our website as podcasts right now—and been in communication with them, I've really gotten a sense that all of them, these four and the others, have been successful in their different ways of doing history in a way that—I'm going to misquote T. S. Eliot I think—"respects the pastness of the past," because as I've said a couple of times to my students, "The past is a very strange place, and if we were suddenly plunked down in the middle of, say, 1918, we would find a lot of things unfamiliar, but we'd find a lot of things I think human and familiar," respecting the past-ness of the past and also respecting the presence of the past.
Maybe coming from a professional background as a military officer where we make a lot of use of military history in our professional development, it's in my DNA to go to the past for instruction and sometimes for inspiration about the way we're conducting business in the current time.
I think that will conclude my remarks, and I'm going to turn the podium over to Mary Barton leading off. Take it away, Mary.
MARY BARTON: Good afternoon. Thank you, Reed, and many thanks to the Carnegie Council for the opportunity to present my research today as a World War I Fellow. The views expressed are my own, based on my dissertation and current book project, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.
In less than two months we will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the armistice that ended the Great War. The war remains the seminal event of the 20th century even as a second war dwarfed it in size and destruction. It is impossible, however, to understand the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, the Cold War, or the nationalist and sectarian violence of today without studying the First World War and its legacies.
In my remarks today I would like to address one of those legacies, the emergence of state-sponsored terrorism in the 1920s and 1930s, a period known retrospectively as the "interwar era." I will argue that state-sponsored terrorism derived in direct response to the war, the revolutions it spawned, and the subsequent peace and territorial settlements.
Western governments responded to escalating levels of political violence after the war by implementing a global counterterrorism strategy centered on controlling the small arms trade. However, as the Allied coalition that won the war deteriorated along nationalist lines, international terrorism revived and expanded to dangerous levels by the mid-1930s.
The story of interwar terrorism begins with an attempted assassination in Paris. In January 1919 the statesmen of the victorious nations gathered to negotiate the peace treaties that would end the war. A month into the Paris Peace Conference, on February 19, while the city breathed a moment of reprieve, an assailant waited outside the home of Georges Clémenceau, the French prime minister known as "the Tiger." As Clémenceau leapt in his car to meet with President Woodrow Wilson's chief advisor, Colonel House, and the British foreign secretary, a young man stepped into the road and fired his weapon. One bullet struck Clémenceau between the ribs and another hit his chauffeur. In police custody the attacker confessed to being an "anarchist" and proclaimed that he had intended to murder the prime minister as "an enemy of the working class."
When news of the attack reached the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, he immediately inquired whether the assassin was a Bolshevik agent, and if so, the effect this would have on diplomatic relations between France and Russia.
[Slide] Just as an assassination in Sarajevo four years earlier had engulfed Europe in war, the ambush in Paris signaled troubles to come. The attack on Clémenceau drew upon an older tradition of anarchist terrorism from the 19th century and early 20th century.
While assassinations of high-ranking officials continued, terrorism evolved after the Great War. Transnational networks of revolutionaries transformed into bureaucratic terrorist organizations, espousing extremist ideologies, receiving state sponsorship, and utilizing the millions of small arms manufactured during the war. The mechanized and industrial killing of the war years nurtured a culture of violence that spilled into the interwar era.
The First World War unleashed three ideologies that profoundly influenced world politics and terrorism for the rest of the century: Soviet communism, fascism, and ultranationalism based on exclusive categories of ethnicity and race. Motivated by Wilson's Fourteen Points and the Wilsonian and Leninist rhetoric of self-determination, colonial nationalists challenged imperial rule in the newly expanded British and French empires while irredentist movements demanded homogeneous nation-states in Europe. During the interwar years self-determination evolved into a dangerous and militant nationalism that justified mass-population politics and state intervention, resulting in unprecedented levels of state and political violence. Unlike their anarchist predecessors, terrorist organizations in the interwar era received government assistance, and this is the key point of my talk.
[Slide] In March 1919, the Bolshevik leader V .I. Lenin organized the Third Communist International or Comintern in direct opposition to the Paris Peace Conference and to launch world revolution from Moscow. For the next 70 years the specter of communism, sometimes real and sometimes imagined, haunted the globe. Benito Mussolini's rise to power in Italy followed by Adolf Hitler in Germany completed the tripartite ideological competition of the interwar years as liberal democracy, communism, and fascism battled to win hearts and minds and to consolidate state power.
The First World War's influence on terrorism is an understudied legacy in the enormous literature on the war and the peace settlements. However, from a longer perspective and with greater access to records from British intelligence, the U.S. State Department, and the League of Nations, I would contend that decisions made at the Paris Peace Conference influence international terrorism and counterterrorism in three ways.
[Slide] First, the postwar treaties converted the multinational domains of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires into national states and created an armed and destabilizing bloc on the European continent. Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary, the defeated nations of the war, and Italy, a former wartime Ally, opposed the territorial settlements. They carried out a so-called "revisionist" campaign against the Versailles system while also covertly supporting foreign terrorist groups in proxy wars against their neighbors. In addition, German munition firms sold their military material to governments and revolutionaries opposed to Western imperial rule, making the port of Hamburg the central hub for arms smuggling in the 1920s and 1930s.
[Slide] Second, Western policymakers at the Paris Peace Conference missed a crucial opportunity to integrate colonial leaders like Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam into the Versailles state system. Instead, the Big Three, Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clémenceau, and their governments dismissed the aspirations of colonial nationalists, allowing communism and the Bolsheviks to make inroads into the imperial world.
[Slide] Anti-colonial advocates found a new ally in Soviet Russia. At the Second World Congress of the Communist International in 1920 Lenin and the Comintern gave their allegiance to supporting "revolutionary movements of liberation." The Soviet leader, Leon Trotsky, declared that: "We have up to now devoted too little attention to agitation in Asia. However, the international situation is evidently shaping in such a way that the road to Paris and London lies via the towns of Afghanistan, the Punjab, and Bengal." In the years that followed, communist operatives supplied funds, military equipment, intelligence, and foreign fighters to assist anti-imperial and nationalist uprisings.
Third, the peacemakers in Paris responded to an uptick in anti-colonial and European terrorism by constructing a legal regime that would control the global arms trade and standardize the destruction of weapons and munitions manufactured during the war. The international arms control regime consisted of two parts, the peace treaties with the ex-enemy states and a new arms-trafficking treaty. The peace treaties with the defeated nations contained provisions that established the first international weapons inspectors, known as Inter-Allied Commissions of Control, and empowered the League of Nations with the right to investigate allegations of rearmament.
In September 1919 the wartime coalition of Allied and Associated Powers concluded the Convention for the Control of the Trade in Arms and Ammunition, and Protocol. This treaty supervised the trafficking of arms over land and sea and at Britain's urging was applied most forcefully in Africa and the Middle East to keep weapons from reaching anti-colonial militants. With these two initiatives the victorious nations established protocols and procedures to keep surplus stocks of weapons from being distributed to "persons and states who are not fit to possess them."
[Slide] However, as a harbinger of things to come, the wartime cooperation responsible for the anti-terrorism strategy established at Paris quickly disintegrated along national security lines. British policymakers prioritized the arms traffic convention for reasons of imperial security. The Soviets' decision to support nationalist uprisings against British rule and to use the Comintern to supply revolutionaries with funds and weapons further motivated the British to stop gun-running to their colonies.
In contrast, French security depended on disarming and demilitarizing Germany. A momentarily quiet Germany and a fear of revolutionary Russia impelled French policymakers to build an alliance of Eastern European states known as the Little Entente that would contain Soviet Russia and deter German militarism. French policy elites therefore focused on terrorism in Europe and supported the work of the Inter-Allied Commission of Control as a means of monitoring German aggression and protecting their Eastern European allies.
Domestic politics in the United States hindered American support of the arms traffic convention. On March 19, 1920, the U.S. Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles for the final time. As a result, the United States did not contribute officers to the multinational force tasked with ensuring the demilitarization and disarmament of the ex-enemy states. European governments petitioned for greater American involvement in disarmament initiatives, hoping that the U.S. government would rein in its private arms manufacturers.
As great-power commitment to the arms control regime languished, the newly created League of Nations became the body charged with enforcing the arms trafficking convention and the disarmament clauses of the peace treaties. The League's task was daunting, as few countries abided by the arms control statutes.
By the mid-1920s it was clear that the system was not working. The League called for another arms trafficking conference. In June 1925, 18 governments including the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan signed the Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and Implements of War. The treaty, however, lacked enforcement mechanisms outside of publicity and remained a dead letter. Consequently, the arms trade flourished, and weapons continued to reach terrorist organizations in Europe and revolutionary nationalists in the colonies and China. The unregulated small arms trade of the 1920s fueled international terrorism in the 1930s.
[Slide] In October 1934 Balkan terrorists, secretly supported by Italian and Hungarian authorities, assassinated King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and the French foreign minister in Marseille, France. The political murders caused an international crisis and eventually, three years later, in 1937 resulted in two treaties, a Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism and a Convention for the Creation of an International Criminal Court. Based upon legal concepts advanced by European jurists, the treaties defined terrorism in international law and included provisions to regulate arms trafficking and fraudulent passports.
However, the security system envisioned by jurists and diplomats at the League of Nations never materialized. Instead, state-sponsored terror escalated, contributing to total war in 1939.
PHILIP CARUSO: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for having me. It's great to be here and great to meet all of you.
I just wanted to start off by echoing a disclaimer. My views are not those of the U.S. government or the Department of Defense.
My research focused on the rise of military airpower in international law in World War I. I focused on that because in the spirit of peace building and how we think about peace building, one of the key questions that constantly comes up throughout history is the development of new weapons technologies and what tools we have at our disposal to mitigate the risks of those new weapons from disrupting some of our core values and ethics as a human society, and international law has become one of the primary mechanisms through which we try to address the pitfalls and the issues associated with new technologies.
In World War I, as I'm sure all of you know, there was a series of new weapons technologies that were born: tanks, machine guns were in widespread use for the first time, chemical weapons, submarines, and airpower. I chose to look at airpower because I think there were a couple of key factors that make the lesson of airpower in World War I really relevant for how we think about new technologies today.
The first is as the capability of airpower arose in the pre-war and during-the-war periods, the doctrine surrounding the use of airpower also evolved very quickly. It evolved to focus on strategic bombardment in which some of the key thinkers were openly advocating and espousing the use of bombardment to attack civilians with the objective of deterring any future conflict or forcing a quick capitulation of an existing conflict.
The second key issue that I think contributes to the rise of airpower as a key lesson is the failure of international law to foresee what was going to happen ultimately in World War II and then to adapt and regulate the use of airpower.
Ninety-six years ago in a couple of months from now, in the winter of 1922 to 1923, the world's leading lawyers from six former Allied powers in World War I—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Japan—met here at The Hague to try to hammer out a legal framework that would address the use of airpower in a future war. And they were informed by the experience of bombing in the first war, which had introduced these horrific realities of bombing civilians. They met over 36, I believe, plenary sessions over a couple of months, and they produced a body of written codified law that was ahead of its time in many ways, and very closely identified the ethical issues of using airpower in conflict, specifically against civilians.
They delivered a report to each of their six represented countries, and then nothing happened. Not a single country ratified it. Nobody signed it, and the rule survives as a benchmark for how we can think about international law and airpower. They survived as informing what the norm should be, but there was no law.
Ultimately, over the next 20 years, that vacuum of international law at the outset of World War II with the evolution of bomber technology exposed millions and millions of civilians to indiscriminate bombing, beginning right here in the Netherlands in 1940, when the Luftwaffe basically leveled Rotterdam and killed thousands and thousands of civilians and culminating in 1945 with the use of strategic bombing on both sides where the United States and its allies firebombed cities like Dresden and Tokyo, which was completely indiscriminate, and then eventually used nuclear weapons against civilian cities in Japan as well at the cost of millions of civilian lives.
International law may not have stopped countries from acting in some of these manners in terms of total war, but I think there's no question that had a body of law existed and had those states ratified it or ascribed to it, it would have at least delayed or deterred them from the openly indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
Just to start off, I want to frame the topic by addressing a level set of how we should think about international humanitarian law (IHL) or the laws of armed conflict and the military ethics that really underlie them and underpin them. A legal framework, including an international one, is, like any other, a set of rules that guide the behavior or belligerents in war. But there are military ethics that date back very far in history that are the foundations of that law and what give the law moral authority or force.
There are a couple of key concepts, I think, within those military ethics that relate to technology that we need to think about. The first is the concept of reciprocity, the idea that in conflict combatants have the moral authority to kill because they are putting themselves at mutual risk. So the moral authority behind killing an enemy combatant is in essence self-defense. It is that you as a combatant are also at risk and are exposed to being killed the same way as your adversary is.
A second key concept—and it clashes with the first with some types of weapons—is the ethical obligation of military commanders to mitigate and reduce the risk to their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines as much as possible, to place them at minimal harm because that's their obligation as a military commander to their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
As you can imagine, there is constantly this cycle of seeking asymmetry from a risk standpoint. So you could think of this as the evolution of combat originally beginning with fists to swords to the bow and arrow to rifles to tanks and airpower. We can describe that as a measure of distance, but really it's a measure of risk. It's reducing risk by putting yourself further away from your enemy. But in the modern day it may not be distance. It may be a cyberattack from the city next door. There are a lot of different ways that we can conceptualize it.
That brings me to my next question, which I want to frame: What are the lessons of World War I airpower and the failure of the draft Rules of Aerial Warfare that were written here? And that is, how should we think about technology and international humanitarian law?
We could visualize the spectrum of thought on this where at one end of the spectrum we know what our ethics are and what our values are as a society and we've established a body of international humanitarian law that responds to that that we think this is how war should be waged, and we judge technology based on that rubric: Does new technology, new weapons adhere to these values, to this existing legal framework?
Under that approach you might advocate a ban on something like autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence (AI) that don't respond to our concepts of risk, of reciprocity, or of ethics. On the other end of the spectrum you have maybe what you could describe as a more cynical view that says that maybe states will never agree to an outright ban on weapons and that instead international humanitarian law responds to the development of new technology, that those laws influence and shape how the technology can be used, but it can't stop it, and it usually can't come into force or even be relevant until after the technology has been used, when we've identified what those issues are.
I think one of the key questions along that spectrum is: What is the right way to deal with new technologies in international law? In a sense, it's a chicken-and-egg conversation. Ultimately, with these lessons what I want to accomplish today is to find some sort of explanation that can inform how we should think about that.
Let me just start briefly with a quick history of airpower in international law. Military airpower as we know it came about in the late 1800s with the development of hot-air balloons which militaries around the world used for observation and reconnaissance. Eventually, somebody came up with the idea of using projectiles. But of course, military officers and tacticians worldwide as well as legal scholars realized that the technology wasn't there to accurately direct those types of projectiles. If you were trying to use them, for example, in a city, the risk of hitting a civilian indiscriminately was pretty high.
As we discussed yesterday, the first two Hague Peace Conferences that were held here in 1899 and 1907 tried to tackle this issue of balloons. In 1899 there was a declaration that came out of the peace conference that banned the use of projectiles from balloons. The United States, believing it was ahead of the pack in terms of air technology, advocated for a five-year ban so that we could, at the second Hague Peace Conference, evaluate where we were at and make a decision about whether or not we should further restrict it.
They succeeded, so there was a five-year ban. In 1904 it expired. In 1907, the second Hague Peace Conference, which dealt primarily with naval conflict, they renewed the ban and added a clause that said, "by whatever means," by balloons or by whatever means, which was really focused on fixed-wing aircraft. We had the Wright Brothers' invention of the aircraft. We were worried about aerial bombardment of civilians at that point. That one was indefinite, but there was a discussion about addressing it and updating it at what was going to be the third Hague Peace Conference, that didn't happen, as we all know.
So we went into World War I with a concept that we shouldn't be bombarding civilians, but the original Hague Convention had a series of clauses that basically allowed the parties to opt out. Ultimately, there was no law in force during World War I that addressed airpower.
The Germans were the first to harness this concept of strategic bombardment of civilians. Between 1915 and 1917 they led an aerial bombardment of London using at first airships and second what they called Gotha bombers that were attacking civilians outright. The Allied Powers thought this was abhorrent. All of the leaders of the various countries made statements about the barbarity and the savagery of the Germans in attacking children and civilians, etc. So at the conclusion of the war there looked like there was a consensus or an impetus, at least on the Allies Powers' side, that there should be some sort of international law that should address this, that should outright ban this type of barbarity against civilians.
That leads me to what I think the lessons are. The first is how we should think about timing and opportunity to implement international law to deal with these types of new weapons and technologies.
There was so much that the Allied Powers were trying to accomplish from an international institution-building and international law perspective after World War I that addressing airpower fell at some point to the bottom of the list, and it wasn't until 1922, four years after the end of the war, that the Allied Powers finally got around to it. The problem is that in those four years a lot had changed. First, there was a feeling that the Great War would be the last war, that the massive death and destruction would not be repeated because it was just so bad. So there was no urgency to address some of these issues that weren't going to come up.
The second was the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire which overnight placed massive new colonies into the hands of the European powers that already had colonies, and at home they were facing fiscal issues, disarmament concerns and they were looking for ways to rule over their vast colonies at lowest cost and maximum effectiveness.
At the same time, the newly formed air forces or air services in the various countries were trying to withstand bureaucratic resistance to their development by the army and the navy in almost every country, and so they were looking for an excuse, a new mission to justify their existence. The Royal Air Force, for example, openly advocated for the use of what they called "air policing," that the British Empire would not need its ships and soldiers to rule vast lands if it had aircraft to bomb rebellious villages in far-flung places. By the time the draft Rules came around, the governments had lost the impetus to develop any sort of international legal regime, and so there was less and less support for that development.
I think a key lesson out of that is if we think about new weapons and the time to start an international campaign toward building institutional law, we have to start right away, when there is an opportunity, when there is an event. We can't wait, and we can't be delayed by all these other concerns.
The second lesson that I think is really relevant is how we should think about the roadmap for developing international humanitarian law. At that time, there weren't very many institutions that were capable of bringing countries together to ascribe to any sort of codified legal treaty. Additionally, in the diplomatic sphere there were issues of fear and distrust that pervaded the international system, and that's partially what led up to World War I in the first place, which made gaining an institutional consensus even more difficult.
Second, the draft Rules failed to lay out a roadmap for how those rules would become international humanitarian law. I think we as a society have largely fixed that problem because we've created institutions like the United Nations. But at the same time, I think what we need to keep in mind is the role in the modern era that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play in how we think about international humanitarian law. Institutions like the United Nations are comprised of nation-states, so there is always a sense of, if you introduce a new legal proposal or new law there is a concern that the state introducing it is looking out for its best interests.
The role of NGOs in the modern era is crucial to overcome that. It's also crucial to gather grassroots support, public opinion in the countries that are going to be leaders in institutionalizing these norms, and we've seen that in the more recent successful, I think, international humanitarian law treaties like the treaty on blinding lasers in 1995, which was the first example of an international legal treaty that banned a weapon before it was ever fully developed or used in combat.
We've seen it with the treaty on cluster munitions and landmines where the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch actually gathered evidence to disprove the military claims, for example, that cluster bombs were 95 percent effective and did not cause unexploded ordnance, and to put a public face to these types of atrocities and these types of problems via a public opinion campaign that builds support inside the institution.
The last lesson I think we need to keep in mind—and this gets back to the original question—is, how should we think about law and technology?
I would posit that the question that I originally posed to you, the answer is that both ends of that spectrum are relevant. International humanitarian law and new weapons and technology co-evolve, and they influence each other. Just like technology—airpower, for example—drives the need for a legal regime to rein it in against indiscriminate attacks on civilians, legal regimes can also influence the development of technology or at least make certain types of technology more attractive.
I would argue that in the postwar era the development of precision weapons in part responded to the need to use weapons of war that are consistent with international law and that reduce the outcry or the impact of waging war with those methods. That co-evolution I think is something that we have to really think about and take each weapon that is newly developed on a case-by-case basis. What is the best approach? Should we try to pursue an outright ban? Is that even tenable?
A critic of the treaty on blinding lasers would say, "Well, blinding lasers didn't revolutionize warfare to the point where any of the parties that ascribe to it were unwilling to give it up, whereas maybe airpower or autonomous weapons pose the opportunity to revolutionize warfare in such a way that no state that has access would be willing to ban them outright." I think those are valid points.
Lastly, I would just say that we need to consider that maybe using IHL to focus on technology poses a risk that we lose sight of what I think the key threats to the waging of lawful war are today, and that is really the change in warfare between state-versus-state actors and evolving more toward most of the conflicts in the modern era being state-versus-nonstate actors. And non-state actors who don't have access to technology typically aren't concerned about international humanitarian law and use asymmetric means to wage warfare back. That could be bombings, that could be suicide bombings, attacks, kidnappings, whatever. In which case, if we find ourselves in those types of conflicts, we need to figure out a way to adapt international humanitarian law to a regime that is responsive to that sort of asymmetry because if we don't, the legal regime as it exists will increasingly become irrelevant.
In closing, thank you very much for being here with me today. I hope that this has been informative, and I want to turn it over to Zach.
ZACH DORFMAN: First of all, I'd like to say how honored and grateful I am to be here today. I don't work for the U.S. government, but my views are still my own.
I'd like to give a brief history of chemical weapons and the normative and legal regime surrounding them from World War I to the present. Forewarned, this is a pretty macabre history. Also, I'd like to say a few words about what this history may mean for the future, the opportunities and dangers in the chemical weapons nonproliferation sphere, and what I see as the need for greater pushback on chemical weapons violators.
Of course, there is no conflict before or since more closely associated with chemical weapons than World War I. Before the war, Germany had the most advanced chemical industry in the world, and they sought to use this to their advantage. Indeed, as early as 1914 Germany considered inserting chlorine, a powerful irritant and choking agent, into artillery shells and gas cylinders.
The very first modern major chemical attack occurred in Belgium on April 22, 1915. German troops fired cylinders containing 150 tons of chlorine at unsuspecting French colonial soldiers with whom they were engaged in a deadly war of attrition. The success of the German attack set off an inevitable chemical arms race between Allied and Central Powers.
By Armistice Day, both sides had tested 3,000 different types of chemicals for their potential use as weapons. Over the course of the war combatants employed 124,000 metric tons of chemical weapons delivered by 66 million artillery shells. Exposure to gases caused 1 million casualties including 100,000 fatalities. Many exposed were permanently disabled.
Though this is a relatively small number compared to the total number of fatalities in World War I, which number about 20 million, the use of chemical weapons was met with widespread horror and outsized attention. Many people intuited that there was something particularly terrible about chemical weapons. They have been considered mala in se, that is, "evil in themselves." This is likely because they are indiscriminate, and they are weapons of terror.
Chemical weapons and their biological cousins are strange. They are the only kind that exclusively destroy living things and do not alter physical infrastructure.
In World War I the use of mustard gas played a notable role in this emerging narrative of chemical weapons being evil in themselves because of its gruesome outward effects on those exposed. Ironically, exposure to mustard gas was rarely fatal. The far deadlier phosgene, which was responsible for 85 percent of all gas-related deaths during the war, is oddly forgotten today as exposure to it did not manifest outward symptoms in the same way.
The public consciousness about the horrors of chemical weapons reached its apex during World War I. There was already an international legal regime regulating their use. During the landmark 1899 Hague Convention on the Laws of War, European powers agreed to refrain from using poison in combat. States even signed a separate agreement called the Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases which outlawed the use of projectiles whose "sole object" was gas warfare.
Just as an aside, in an infernal act of sophistry, first Germany and then the Allied Powers said that their use of chemical weapons in World War I did not actually contravene this convention because they were firing artillery, so you could actually be hit over the head and killed that way, but again that was a highly tendentious reading of the treaty. In any case.
Building on this legal framework, after the Great War all the major powers save the United States and Japan signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Asphyxiating, Poisonous, and Other Gases, which sought to actually make all uses of chemical weapons illegal during wartime. But the states parties included a series of legal reservations that allowed for second-strike capacity and argued that the treaty did not apply to nonsignatories and did not forbid the stockpiling of chemical weapons.
Moving forward a decade or so, it's notable that historical accounts often gloss over the use of chemical weapons during the 1930s and World War II. While it's true that chemical weapons weren't used by belligerents in the European theater, there was significant stockpiling and weapons development on both sides and, of course, there was extensive use of chemical weapons to facilitate the genocide of the European Jews in the Holocaust.
By 1935 Fascist Italy was using chemical weapons including mustard bombs extensively on Ethiopian villagers during Mussolini's colonialist war of expansion there. Chemical weapons caused 30 percent of the 50,000 total Ethiopian casualties in the war, according to Soviet estimates.
Then, during Japan's invasion of China, Japan dropped mustard gas and other chemical weapons bombs on Chinese soldiers and civilians, killing at least 2,000 and injuring 35,000.
During this time, Axis and Allied Powers manufactured tens of thousands of tons of chemical weapons for potential use, effectively kicking off a new arms race wherein the balance of terror held the other side in check.
By the way, one of the greatest intelligence failures of World War II was that the Allies did not know the extent of German chemical weapons production during the war.
Indeed, Nazi Germany invented a new, far deadlier category of chemical weapons during this time known as nerve agents. What became sarin, tabun, and soman were based on German industrial research into insecticides. Nerve gases cause the cascading failure of bodily functions including the body "forgetting to breathe" and then often rapid death. During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union continued this arms race to develop ever deadlier and more persistent nerve weapons and delivery systems for them.
By 1957, the United States and its allies turned to developing the next generation of nerve gases known as V for venomous agents, selecting one agent, VX, for widespread production. VX was three times more toxic than sarin when inhaled and up to a thousand times more toxic when absorbed through the skin.
By the mid-1970s, the Soviets had developed a newer class of nerve agents known as the Novichok series that were the most powerful ever invented. Testing showed some of these agents to be up to eight times as deadly as VX. Russia has never admitted to possessing these weapons, even though they were publicly exposed by wary Soviet scientists in the early post-USSR period. In fact, Novichok was created to avoid weapons inspection.
The 1980s were a low point for the normative illegal regime surrounding chemical weapons. In 1980, Iraq, seeking oil wealth, launched a bloody war with Iran. From 1983 onward, Saddam Hussein's troops used chemical weapons extensively. Iran claims that 60,000 of its soldiers were treated for injuries related to exposure; 30,000 still suffer from those effects today, say the Iranians.
Then, in 1988, following the conclusion of the war, Saddam kicked off a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Kurds in Iraq's north. In the Iraqi city of Halabja, Saddam's troops carpeted the area with a cocktail of mustard, sarin, and VX gases, killing up to 5,000 and injuring 10,000. The assault on Halabja, which has been called the single-largest chemical weapons attack on civilians in history, was the deadliest such attack until the Assad regime's use of nerve gas in a rebel-held Damascus suburb in 2013, which killed over a thousand civilians.
As these attacks demonstrate, chemical weapons, far from their usage between conventionally matched armies in World War I, have increasingly become a weapon of choice for states to target the weak in asymmetric conflicts such as those between Italy and Ethiopia in the 1930s, Japan and China in the 1940s, Egypt and Yemen in the 1960s, Iraq and its Kurdish minority in the 1980s, and now Syria today.
As the forgoing examples show, the usage of chemical weapons after World War I appears to be cyclic. Every decade or two these weapons rear their ugly head, but the metabolism has quickened over the last few years. There is a danger in the future of large-scale chemical weapons usage, say if a regional war breaks out in the Middle East or on the Korean peninsula.
I don't want to paint too dire a picture. There have been great strides in the chemical weapons nonproliferation regime. The landmark 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans all stockpiling and use of such weapons, now counts 193 states parties among its members. Compliance with the treaty is, of course, overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), headquartered right here in The Hague, and the OPCW does extraordinary and necessary work. Today 98 percent of the world's population live in countries that have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Still, the OPCW is constrained by the great-power politics of the era. In the last few years, after decades of almost complete non-use, chemical weapons attacks have occurred in a village in the heart of a major European state, in a war zone in the Middle East, and in a bustling Southeast Asian airport. They have been used in this time as weapons of war, of assassination, and of terror. These attacks have occurred during a period of fraying ties in trans-Atlantic relations. Both the United States and the European Union have, for their own reasons, turned inward. Illiberal forces are rising across the West, just like in the interwar period.
This presents a number of dangers, including a weakened normative regime surrounding the future use of chemical weapons. If Russia, North Korea, Syria, and Iran do not believe that they will face significant consequences for committing or aiding and abetting in chemical attacks, they will become emboldened to continue to do so in the future.
Indeed, even after Syria agreed to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 multiple credible reports show that the Assad regime has continued to launch deadly chemical attacks on its civilians. Stronger forms of deterrence including multilateral sanctions regimes are clearly needed with trans-Atlantic allies speaking in one voice.
While the world will not likely again see the type of chemical weapons warfare that characterized World War I, the dangers of chemical weapons attacks are higher than they have been in decades. This may seem paradoxical given the formal strength of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the work of the OPCW, but a divided and distracted international community has created the space for the return of this dark and dangerous specter.
RICHARD MILLETT: I have been asked to describe the lasting impacts of World War I on the relations with 20 different countries of Latin America. This is sort of like the traditional final exam question in world history courses, which was "Describe the world and everything in it, and give three examples, 15 minutes." Nevertheless, I will do my best.
I have to start by saying that you need to understand the context in which U.S. policy developed here, and it was not a very favorable context. We had essentially reduced most of Central America and the Caribbean to the status of either occupied countries or protectorates. We had a major conflict with Mexico brewing constantly with real danger of war, and we had almost no influence in South America. It is a fascinating—and with Woodrow Wilson as president, the great moralist who was going to teach Mexicans to elect good men whether they wanted to or not, in his first term he occupied Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and he launched two major military expeditions into Mexico, occupying the port of Veracruz, and sending John Pershing on a futile chase after Pancho Villa through Northern Mexico.
One result was that when the United States entered the war and appealed for Latin American solidarity that was probably the original words of "The Sound of Silence." We suddenly discovered we didn't have the influence we thought we did, and the results are going to be big changes in policy.
I want to focus initially on two countries, Mexico and Brazil. First of all, they're the two biggest and most important. But they're also fascinatingly different cases.
Mexico: It was the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz who said, "¡Pobre Mexico! ¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!" "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States."
Wilson thought he could shape Mexican politics. What he discovered was not only that it didn't work, but that it imperiled U.S. security. Suddenly, with a war in Europe security on that border became much more important.
Actually, prior to that there had only been one border wall, and it was built in a short stretch by the Mexicans to keep American arms smugglers out. A little ironic in the light of today probably.
So Wilson backs off, and he doesn't just back off mildly; he backs off 180 degrees in a way no one would have predicted. He not only stops trying to select Mexican government, he accepts the government that is, Carranza.
He resists British pressures to launch a coup. The British wanted us to do it. If only we'd learned that lesson in Iran a few decades later, it would have been interesting. But resists the British pressure. Resists pressure to try to occupy the oil fields which were of vital importance. Mexican oil supplied half the oil the British used in World War I; an amazing statistic. These were U.S. and British companies. But he backs off from that.
When at the end of the war an American consular agent is kidnapped, Senator Albert Fall, the senator from the petroleum industry, introduced a resolution calling for the United States to give Mexico an ultimatum, and if it wasn't acted on, to intervene, which infuriated Wilson, who was at Versailles at the time, and Wilson literally got his own party leadership in the Senate to block that from ever coming to a vote. This is the man who two years earlier had been sending Pershing into Mexico and now starts the trend of saying: "Security on that border is more important than anything. We're going to have to live with Mexico, and they're going to have to live with us."
From then on, you don't find the United States trying to select Mexico's political leaders. It is a complete reversal of much of the history that had gone on up until then.
We have big issues over oil, over migration, over water. The huge issue that really comes up is during FDR's term, when the Mexicans nationalize the U.S. oil prices, and the oil companies go to endless lengths. They literally—poor Carnegie never anticipated this—pay newspapers to run editorials, then they collect them and put them in books, and they give free copies to every Carnegie library in the United States about how awful Mexico was.
But FDR and all other people, his ambassador to Mexico, who had been the secretary of the navy during the occupation of Veracruz, Josephus Daniels, say, "We're going to solve this through the courts and through law, and we are not going to intervene." It actually sets the stage for a very good alliance with Mexico in World War II.
This pattern has continued generally up to the present. In Mexico you have a huge shift with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because Mexico's basic aim for decades was "Minimize your dependence on the United States," and with NAFTA it became, "Maximize your dependence on the United States." We have all sorts of mutually shared interests, but negotiating, accepting, recognizing Mexican interests and Mexican sovereignty has been a principle until the last year and a half, and we won't comment beyond that. How sustainable this will prove remains a great issue.
Brazil is a totally different case. Brazil had been overwhelmingly influenced by Great Britain. It was the dominant trading power. The British trained the Brazilian Navy.
You have to understand that in World War I terms and later the navies were the equivalent of ballistic missiles. They were the means by which you projected power beyond your frontiers. They were the key element.
What you find in Brazil is an amazing case where the U.S. Navy, combined with a very supportive Ambassador Morgan in Brazil, decides we're going to displace the British. The rivalry between the United States and Britain over the Brazilian Navy was probably the biggest conflict in the Americas in World War I. It was astonishing in many ways. We compete over naval issues.
Initially, the Navy Department said, "We can't spare these people Brazil wants," but the American admiral in the Pacific Fleet and the American ambassador in Brazil changed their minds. We become the major trainers of the Brazilian Navy. We become the major suppliers of the Brazilian Navy.
Then what does the Navy do? The Brazilians want to participate in the war. They're going to send a small squadron of cruisers and destroyers, and the British say, "Of course, they would operate with us." The United States says, "No, we're going to the Allied Naval Conference and make this a big issue." What we eventually get is a compromise. They will be under British command but operate with a U.S. squadron, all of which turns out to be meaningless because it takes months to get them in shape, and then when they start to sail for Gibraltar an influenza epidemic breaks out on the ships. They do get there on November 10, 1918, one day before the war ends, so they never sail with anybody.
REED BONADONNA: That was exciting.
RICHARD MILLETT: They also had a giant dreadnought called the São Paulo, the pride of the Brazilian fleet, which was in as bad shape as the rest of the fleet, lacking modern fire control. Again, the United States persuades them to send it to the Brooklyn Navy Yard because the British have already announced that when it gets out it will sail with the Grand Fleet. It doesn't get out. Spare parts keep getting delayed, new construction keeps getting added. The São Paulo will get out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in March of 1919, long after the war is over. This rivalry is a story in and of itself.
But what happens is the United States goes beyond this. When it comes to the Treaty of Versailles, Brazil has a place, not a big one, and it has two huge interests: one, the fate of the German ships which they had interned and which they had then allowed the French to take over. We wanted them at first, then we said it's a choice between the British and the French. We're going to make damn sure it's not the British, so they went to the French. The French don't want to give them back.
Second, they had big problems for all the coffee that Germany had held and not paid for. The United States makes the conscious decision, including Wilson himself, to strongly support the Brazilians. The Brazilian president later said, "The United States was a friend in need, and the Europeans were no help whatsoever. From now on, I want U.S. investment and U.S. training."
It's an interesting case, replacement of one nation with another. Indeed, it applies to trade also. Huge increase in U.S. trade, decline in British trade; huge increase in U.S. investment. Brazil is the key.
My law is "Every silver lining encloses a dark cloud." If you're going to make the Brazilians happy, you're going to make the Argentines unhappy. This is all sort of semi-automatic, and our relations with Argentina are never going to be that good, although economically they will be.
Fascinating statistics: In 1912 not a single U.S. branch bank in all of South America; in 1920, 50. In 1913, not a single U.S. flagship enters Buenos Aires harbor; in 1919, over 300. South America changes. This means for the United States that we now have to start looking at Latin America as an area, not just country by country with a special focus on Mexico and Central America and the Caribbean. We have to take the Inter-American system much more seriously.
Calvin Coolidge goes to the Inter-American meeting in Havana in the 1920s, and Herbert Hoover visits Latin America. That had never happened before like that. Teddy Roosevelt got his picture taken in the Panama Canal, but that was quite different.
In fact, Coolidge—Coolidge was known for not saying much. There's the story of the woman who ran up to him and said, "President Coolidge, I've bet my husband I can get you to say more than two words;" his reply was, "You lose"—delivers a lengthy speech, an amazing collection of platitudes and generalities to the Inter-American Conference in Havana. But it was worth the president going. He had to acknowledge it, something that again was almost unthinkable before the war.
We do more and more. When you get to the interventions, the State Department had lost control to the Navy and Marines, and their struggle to get it back in the 1920s is fascinating. They finally force the Marines out of the Dominican Republic in 1924.
The Hoover administration is even more concerned. They will end the intervention in Nicaragua and all but end the intervention in Haiti partly because Secretary of State Stimson discovered that our interventions in Latin America really hampered his efforts to get the Japanese out of Manchuria. Note again, Latin America is suddenly in a global context as well as a regional context. It is something very, very new.
REED BONADONNA: Richard, can we wrap it up in about a minute and leave them panting for more?
RICHARD MILLETT: Now I've got to talk about the important stuff that happened.
There are other really sea changes here. This is the first time that the United States began training Latin American militaries. We're creating constabularies, but that was the opposite. That was called, "Shove the military and the police together, and eliminate all capacity to project power beyond your borders." But now we are authorizing officially, sending missions first to the navies. The armies come later. Again, this will be a double-edged sword. You all know about the problems of U.S. involvement with various Latin American armies during the height of the Cold War. You may not know there are other sides to it, oddly enough.
U.S. training produced—well, most of these guys were produced this way anyway. The idea that two months in the School of the Americas formed their entire life has got to be one of the sillier myths I've ever had to encounter, but it had some positive things.
It was officers who had gotten to know themselves there that helped end the Peruvian-Ecuadorian conflict a few years ago. It's training there that made Central American contingents that actually went to Iraq experts in de-mining. They can do things that we bluntly really don't know very well how to do. We can train them amazingly now in disaster preparation.
One of the other ironies, of course, is that we spent the first third of the century trying to combine the military and police. We spent the eras of the 1970s and 1980s trying to separate the military and the police, and now with the drug war we're trying to figure out how you have them work together. It has been again an endless kind of security dilemma.
There's another aspect which I'm sure none of you know about. We pressured the Latin American countries to take action against the Germans. The Brazilians especially did, including outlawing the use of German language in schools, prohibiting German publications.
Comes World War II, we're going to repeat this, but we repeat it in a way that is absolutely frightening. We not only persuade, especially the Central American countries, but also in the case of the Japanese, Peru, to intern their German and Japanese citizens, and these people had lived there for generations but kept their passports, but to ship them to the United States, where we put them in the same kind of camps we put the Japanese Americans, notably Crystal City, Texas.
But then we do something we never did to the Japanese. We get a couple of boatloads of them and ship them back to Hitler. One of the loads arrives in Hamburg in the middle of a British air raid. We never shipped any of the Japanese to Hiroshima, but we shipped these people, most of whom had never been in Germany, back in exchange for interned Americans and other Allied people.
Just a little footnote on the unintended consequences.
REED BONADONNA: Richard, this is the end, right, because I would like a few minutes for questions.
RICHARD MILLETT: This is one last point, but it's a big one.
The United States in 1923 in Central America organizes a conference on arms limitation in Washington. We don't sign it, but we enforce it. Not only do we want them to get rid of their traditional armies, and we want them to limit their arms, we establish a Central American Court of Justice for arbitration, and set up a doctrine that nobody will recognize a government that comes to power by coups or other unconstitutional means. A wonderful noble effort that miserably fails. People hardly know this exists. We need to look at the causes of this failure and look at them carefully because they tell us a lot.
What happens is when the United States decides we don't want to send in the Marines and we can't get them to agree to this themselves, we start turning to covert and proxy actions. We turn to Guatemala in 1954; actually Panama before the war; we turn to the Bay of Pigs; we turn to efforts to have somebody else do it for us, which probably has the worst effects on our relations of almost anything we have ever done.
REED BONADONNA: That's a note on which to end, but thank you for a real tour de force. I wanted to turn it over to questions.
I was very remiss in not mentioning the contributions to the project, a shout-out to Billy Pickett, a program assistant who did most of the work. Billy, do you have a question you want to ask?
QUESTION: This question is for Zach. I wanted to know if he could maybe elaborate on the current use of Novichok in the United Kingdom. I know you went over it briefly, but I'm not well-versed in the OPCW, and I wanted to know if you could elaborate.
ZACH DORFMAN: Sure. There was an attempted assassination by two individuals later identified as officers with Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU, and their mission was to assassinate a defector who was previously a GRU officer who was based as an attaché. I think he was a military attaché last based in Spain.
These officers traveled from Russia to the United Kingdom to the small town of Salisbury, where they, according to British investigators, put the Novichok on the door handle for the house that this gentleman was living in. His name was Sergei Skripal, and he and his daughter were in the house at the time or nearby. They were found slumped over on a chair in a nearby park.
The only reason they survived was because Salisbury actually happens to be a 15-minute drive from Porton Down, which is the UK's main chemical weapons research facility, so there was a degree of knowledge and expertise that almost certainly saved their lives.
Later on, due to their pathetically sloppy tradecraft, the GRU officers discarded the Novichok, which was being kept in a perfume bottle, in a nearby park, where it was found by a woman named Dawn Sturgess and her husband. Because they thought it was perfume, they sprayed it directly on their skin. Dawn Sturgess later died, and I think her partner, whose name [is] Charlie Rowley, survived.
This was a bald and aggressive action on the part of the Russian Federation. There are many ways conceivably to assassinate a defector. Why they chose to use what is arguably the deadliest nerve agent ever invented in a civilian environment—the best explanation that I can give is that it was a warning sign to other defectors as well as individuals . . . I had a conversation with a former U.S. intelligence community official, who said, "It's about the defectors, but it's also potentially about the large and powerful émigré community of Russians in London," which is that we can find you and we don't actually care about the international legal structure around this.
It has also been part of a Russian strategy more recently to push the limits to see how far you can go without significant pushback from Western powers.
That was the recent Novichok event. It's a deeply troubling sign.
QUESTION: You explained in your historical review that the use of chemical weapons gets worse and worse and worse and that we have the OPCW. We have a ban of the weapons, and 95 percent of the countries don't use it, and some villains do use it, like these Russians or like the Syrians.
My question is very provocative: Should we not close down OPCW? I mean, there is a ban. Everybody accepts it. It costs an awful lot of money. Shouldn't we create another organization, for example, of the banning of nuclear weapons instead of chemical weapons because these villains you cannot prevent, and all the others are expecting it? I'm sorry. It's very provocative.
ZACH DORFMAN: The first thing is you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and the OPCW does critical work. They have an unparalleled concentration of expertise, and they have worked cooperatively and multilaterally to rid a number of countries—everyone from Albania to South Korea—of their chemical weapons stock.
I would say what would be ideal is a world where there is a security enforcement mechanism that perhaps exists alongside or is complementary to the work of the OPCW. It's like the United Nations. There's no military force attached to it other than the one that states in accordance with international law can provide to it.
I think that it has been a critical force, but we're still living in a world of great powers and nation-states, and if the Russian Federation wants to cheat on its treaty commitments, it's going to continue to do so. That doesn't mean that we still shouldn't try as best we can, even with highly imperfect means, to create a world where there are fewer chemical weapon stocks out there.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, yes. I would like to set the balance indeed a bit in favor of the OPCW because what I have in the [inaudible] is that 93 percent of the chemical stuff has been destroyed, the stock. So there are only, as you said, now incidents, and it's very grave, of course, and I think especially what's happening in Syria. We're all waiting now for what's going to happen.
But I think that the OPCW has really done its work very, very well, and as you said the expertise is still there, and they are now going to go into prevention.
Indeed, what is missing is how to secure it, how to implement in the end if there is a grave violation, and that is a difficulty. But I think the organization as such has done wonderful work.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Inga Verlahen [phonetic].
I'm just wondering, I'm trying to see if there are overarching lessons from all of you beyond your specific lessons if you like. It might be a deeper one, and it might be one—and I'm not sure you were all at the children's panel yesterday—but that we would answer so our children or maybe our grandchildren would understand it, and if they could reinvent what would need to happen, what is the lesson? What would you tell them?
PHILIP CARUSO: I'll take a crack at it. I would start with really the core concept of communication and having a dialogue about these things. The fear and distrust that led up to World War I clearly showed that there was a lack of transparency and a lack of dialogue between the relevant nation-states. I think the failure to develop international institutions, even though there were many attempts like the League of Nations after the war, is partially what continued that failure of dialogue and eventually led us up to World War II.
It's not to say that there weren't efforts and there weren't discussions, and maybe all those things might have happened anyway, but I think ultimately if you look at what our successes are today, where we've succeeded with chemical weapons or banning any other kind of weapon, it has really been about the world coming together and communicating and tackling issues together and communicating and not unilaterally or to the extent as they had historically pursuing their own agenda to the same extent at the cost of actually addressing these problems worldwide.
REED BONADONNA: I would also say something like the fact that they're not being cut adrift from history. I sometimes had the thought in yesterday's panels that there was a perception that we were in a brave new world and that all bets were off, the historical record was being rendered irrelevant by technological change or new kinds of conflicts.
One thought that I had was the phenomenon of non-state warfare is nothing new. In fact, warfare is arguably much older than the modern nation-state. This is a model we've gotten used to over the last few centuries, but armed conflict is much older than that, and it has always involved non-state actors at any time. World War I is a very classic example of state-on-state warfare, but even there nonstate actors were involved. The use of terror is an illustration.
It's not really a completely brave new world. It was ever so in so many ways. Human nature, relations and communications among them, these are the besetting problems of us trying to understand one another and accommodate one another. It has always been a difficult, daunting world very often characterized by conflict that just like in 1914 no one seems to want, but it comes anyway. Will that happen again? Maybe we can set our children up better than that so it does not.
MARY BARTON: I want to echo Reed and say listening to our talks I think there are two things: One, we talked about a variety of legal regimes and whether they were enforced or not. So, the question of political will and enforcing is important for whether it's effective.
The second has to do with outlets. One of the big questions has always been, why did anarchist terrorism decline after the First World War? A lot of that was the creation of unions and anarchists who joined different organizations that went through the legal system to affect change so you had shorter days and health insurance. That's what made the biggest difference in terms of funneling that protest into a way that was more peaceful and also more effective.
RICHARD MILLETT: I just wanted to make one note that in our concept—and looking at my part of the world again—of security, we discovered, especially in creating these constabulary forces you could create order but not justice and that order without justice was a recipe ultimately for more instability.
We've discovered in recent years that you can end the formal civil conflicts, but what do you do with the fighters? And the answer is, you now have menaces from organized crime that are worse for the average citizen than the height of the civil wars.
Simple formulas never work, which is why we repeat them.
QUESTION: The session is called "Education for Peace," and of course the second part is about World War I. I want to leave because education, youth, it's all about hope, and after this session I feel a bit hopeless, if I may be honest, hearing about everything, of course what OPCW does is very good, but I also hear 1914, war can happen at any moment, and I'm like—maybe can you also leave us with some words of hope?
PHILIP CARUSO: I would say that I think we've learned from our mistakes about new weapons and the need for an order, a benchmark legal regime to address them. I'm hopeful that the destruction that we've suffered as a civilization from the indiscriminate use of airpower, for example, is going to be a warning sign for us if we can remember history about how we should think about addressing these things going forward.
I think we've got enough historical examples, going all the way back to the beginning of time, that we should be hopeful that if only we can remember those things and those lessons that we can be proactive and we can think thoughtfully about how to address these things. I do feel hopeful about that.
If you look at the last hundred years since World War I, I think you can see the progress. We haven't eliminated war, we haven't eliminated atrocities, but if you look at the scale of death and destruction that happened in that war and World War II and the conflicts we are engaged in now and the strength of the international system despite what has happened in the last year or two, I do feel hopeful. We just have to care about it and maintain it and take those steps.
RICHARD MILLETT: Let me be hopeful for a minute. Latin America, oddly enough, gives us some reason for hope.
Central America, these countries had made a career out of intervening in all their neighbors' internal political fights for almost 200 years, and the experience of the disastrous wars of the 1980s especially finally convinced them that violence, no matter the source, is bad for business, it's fatal for their economy, that it doesn't produce justice. It just produces more violence. And today you find nobody in Central America who really wants to produce instability on their borders. On the contrary, they are desperate to try to maintain stability.
The other thing is that Argentina and Brazil both thought about developing nuclear weapons. They negotiated. They completely shut down the programs. They proved it could be done.
So there are some hopeful lessons emerging in a continent which increasingly understands that violence is a road to nowhere.
REED BONADONNA: I do believe in the younger generation, too. I think they're nicer and more tolerant than we were. I have three sons. I suspect they'll grow up to be better men than I am. I'll hang my hat at the end of the day on that hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're running way over time. I appreciate your interest in the topic. I'm sure the Fellows will be glad to answer any follow-on questions during the break or later in the conference. Thank you for coming.