Where the threat is coming from, who actually has biological weapons and the role the U.S. is playing in the development and control of such weapons are addressed in a new book edited and co-authored by Susan Wright, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
Wright is the project leader of an international team of scholars, journalists and members of non-governmental organizations whose research has culminated in the publication of "Biological Warfare and Disarmament: New Problems, New Perspectives." Their work takes a fresh look at the problem of biological warfare and proposes new approaches to mitigating the threats it poses.
For example, Wright says, a general problem with the conventional Western view is that it divides the world into two kinds of states: responsible countries (essentially, the U.S. and Europe) that can be trusted with weapons of mass destruction, and the rest of the world, which can't. The biological weapons problem is then defined as a threat to the West rather than in terms of the regional military and political interactions that encourage interests in weapons of mass destruction.
"This 'rogue state' discourse, for example, helped form the extraordinarily punitive treatment Iraq has received since the Gulf War," she said.
Wright compares the treatment of Iraq with the treatment Russia has received since the end of the Cold War. "The former Soviet Union had a huge biological weapons program in the 1980s that clearly violated the Biological Weapons Convention. These facilities still existed in Russia in the early 1990s. In contrast to the punitive treatment accorded Iraq, Congress passed the Nunn-Lugar Act of 1991, which provided funding to help the Russians dismantle their facilities. This process continues today i
Contact: Judy Steeh
University of Michigan