Genocidal Weapons: Coming to a Theatre Near You

Genocidal Weapons: Coming to a Theatre Near You

by Linda Beckerman, Ph, D.
February/March 2003

Have you ever heard of “pigmentation weapons”? South African scientists who wanted to selectively kill dark skinned people envisioned these. But the Human Genome Project negated that possibility when they discovered there is no such thing as race (see A Paler Shade of Black). But a new specter now looms on the horizon. This is a whole new class of biological weapons, which seeks to selectively kill off entire ethnic groups by targeting their DNA.

These weapons are feasible now that pharmaceutical companies and other research organizations are unlocking the genetic code that distinguishes one ethnic group from another (see The New Gold Rush). While these organizations seek therapeutic approaches for treating disease, there is the potential for a ghastly case of dual use technology. Every advance towards therapeutic approaches based on the DNA of an ethnic group can be used to develop a weapon instead. Let’s see how this is possible.

Incoming – Enemy Genes

The easiest to understand category of genetic medicine is gene therapy. It seeks to replace a defective gene with one that is functional, thus restoring the patient’s health. However, first the defective gene has to be isolated, then the correct gene has to be inserted into its right place in the genome, and finally, there has to be a vehicle to deliver the correct gene.

The Human Genome Project has already solved the first part of the problem. We now have the capability to identify defective genes. The second part of the problem is to insert a healthy gene in its place.

By healthy we mean that the gene functions the way it is supposed to. So what is it that these healthy genes actually do? Each gene operates like a switch that can be turned on or off. When turned on, one activity it performs is to provide instructions to the cells to synthesize proteins. If the gene is not functioning properly, the cell may not synthesize enough proteins, or too much, or too late, or not at all. All of which could lead to disease.

Replacement requires a delivery system accurate enough to insert the gene into just the right location on the strand of DNA. The most desired delivery system for gene therapy is the virus, because viruses are able to deliver their own genetic material into a human cell. Scientists seek to remove the undesirable portion of a virus’s DNA and insert the therapeutic portion instead, using the virus like a smart bomb or guided missile at the genetic level.

The genocidal weapons scientist differs only in the portion of DNA he wants to replace in the virus and have it deliver. So if one were able to deliberately insert a gene into a healthy person, which did the wrong things instead of the right things, the person receiving the gene would become diseased or disabled in some manner.

Vive Le Difference?

Will a genocidal weapon be able to distinguish between Me and Thee? A lot of pharmaceutical companies are working very hard to be able to do identify large groups of ethnically similar people. For example, it is now believed that there are seven European subgroups, but how different they really are from each other is up for grabs. However, the ability to identify the genetic distinctions and similarities among the myriad of Earth’s ethnic lineages is progressing at breakneck pace so that pharmaceutical companies can reap their Return On Investment by peddling new drugs.

Additionally, these corporations hope to recoup some of their costs by selling patented genetic data and collecting royalties. All a genocidal weapons researcher has to do is appear to be a legitimate genetics researcher, purchase the data, and then turn around and develop a genocidal weapon instead.

But what about international laws of warfare? Don’t they prohibit genocidal warfare? Or have the spin doctors fixed all that?

Does Your Genocide Require Scrubbing Bubbles?

When the country once called Yugoslavia fell apart, a new term, Ethnic Cleansing, became common international jargon. What an interesting choice of words. First there is the word “cleansing“, as in getting rid of something dirty or contaminating. Then we join it to the word “ethnic“ and suddenly we have a term that connotes that things would be so much cleaner if only a certain ethnic group didn’t exist.

The defenders of the term Ethnic Cleansing state it is merely an administrative concept, as in clearing areas of undesirable people. We have seen this administrative approach before. In the year 1492, all the Jews were evicted from the whole of Spain. Then the Inquisition proceeded to use devices of torture to make sure no Jewish (or Muslim or Old World Religion) remnants remained to contaminate what was to be a purely Christian country. Not surprisingly, administrative approaches quickly become violent approaches.

But the correct term for this form of violence is genocide, not ethnic cleansing as in kitchen cleansing or bathroom cleansing. And unlike other forms of murder or even mass murder, genocide starts out with a premeditated plan of action against a particular ethnic, religious, or cultural group. It may proceed through an administrative phase, such as the denial of health services or the requirement for special identifying demarcations, and then turn to violence as the extermination phase of the plan is carried out.

We just don’t like the word genocide. It conjures up nasty images, such as the left over piles of bodies of the exterminated Jews and Gypsies in WWII Germany who had not yet been baked to ashes. Eerily similar, between 1915 and 1922, the Turks started with an administrative summons to round up Armenians for purposes of deportation and ended with the slaughter of 1.5 million.

Since then, the Geneva Convention added the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. But the Geneva Convention is impotent. For example, the 1988 Anfal Campaign by Iraq against the Kurds was like a modern day Pompeii. After the gas bombs fell, corpses lay everywhere in the streets in whatever position every day life caught them in. In the larger anti-Kurd campaign, between 50,000 and 100,000 died and yet the Geneva Convention voted not to take any action at all. More recently, there was the 1994 slaughter, by machete wielding Hutus of 800,000 Tutsis. This amounted to nearly 2/3rds of the entire Tutsi population. The flaccid response by the Geneva Convention was to host a conference or two and name a few names.

So where does that leave us?

The Witch’s Brew

Pour into one large cauldron numerous large beakers of international laws that define crimes against humanity, as codified by The Hague and Geneva Conventions, complete with small beakers of add-on codicils.

Now throw into the cauldron one eyelash of winking bat called not fighting fair. History is replete with examples where those who didn’t fight fair were the ones who won. The further back in time we look at these examples of fighting unfair, the more we tend to view the winners of this strategy as being smart. But doing so in present times makes us feel as though we’ve stepped barefoot into something a dog left behind on the front lawn.

Now add to this murky witch’s brew several sets of frog lips that define the philosophical notion of what is or is not a Just War. Stir and mix and you will have a bubbling mess of irreconcilable dilemmas. What is or is not legitimate vs. what is or is not smart vs. what is or is not so morally disgusting as to require excommunication from the human race?

Osama Bin Laden‘s Al Qaeda, the Columbian narco-terrorists, and other non-state actors write their own definitions of Just War. These non-state actors don’t care about The Hague and Geneva Conventions. They don’t think of their form of warfare as unfair or dishonorable. The distinction between combatants and civilians is irrelevant. Most are civilians themselves and wear no Geneva Convention style uniform. To them, expediency is what counts and they fight no holds barred. Money and political influence connect them to legitimate entities, both state and corporate. It would, therefore, not be unexpected for genocidal weapons to fall into their hands or for them to develop them in their own labs.

Scoffers take note. These are not cavemen with Neanderthalic capabilities. Osama Bin Laden obtained a degree in public administration from King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah. His right hand man, the Egyptian Al-Zawahiri, was a surgeon prior to joining Bin Laden‘s organization. Many members of the Al Qaeda cells are young men from upper class families who attend universities in the United States and Europe. The same is true for other terrorist organizations and combatants from special interest groups who are not aligned along nation state lines.

Money is another route to obtaining capability. Columbian narco-trafficers were caught constructing a high quality submarine capable of carrying 200 tons of cocaine. Evidence on the site indicated it was built using the technical skills of Russian engineers. Similarly, terrorists with money could very well pay others to staff a terrorist built lab and develop genocidal weapons for them.

These non-state combatants are not particularly concerned about collateral damage. Given that all of us on this planet are genetically similar, you and your family just might be cousins of the targeted ethnic group by only 100 generations removed. And that might be close enough for a genocidal weapon near miss. If you and your family are caught up in the slaughter of a few million more, that will not bother the non-state combatant one whit.

Copyright © January 2003 Linda Beckerman, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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