I finished the class final paper/discussion last night, just in time for the deadline. To be honest, I did not have a very specific direction in my head of where I wanted to go with this paper, but I did know I wanted to follow my movie, Outbreak, and the theme of biological warfare. In the end, I am pleased with the research I found and what I learned. I wanted to focus not as much on the scientific, medical aspect of the movie, which deals with an uncontrollable outbreak of disease, but with the issue of disease as weapon. General McClintock in the film brings the Motaba virus to America in hopes of growing it into the United States most powerful weapon. However, he justifies it as United States defense because in the event of War, the U.S. could threaten an enemy with the virus or withhold the anti serum.
In my research, I discovered that what General McClintock did was completely illegal and broke the Biological Weapons Convention that the United States became apart of in 1972. This Convention prohibits the selling, manufacturing, trading, and stockpiling of biological weapons and currently 150 nations have signed. However, there are very few restrictions in place to enforce the treaty. Therefore there are some countries, notably Russia (although they are a signatory of the Convention) that violate this and continue to manufacture biological weapons of an offensive nature. For example, in the first Gulf War, Iraq learned how to weaponize anthrax and they manufactured missiles and bombs that were capable of carrying disease. Throughout the world, there are continuous advancements in the production of disease with the intention of being used in terrorist attacks or potential war. Therefore the United States has a right to strengthen our defenses by investigating new potentially lethal pathogens and staying on top of the biological weapons production in other countries.
While I am confident the U.S. military’s defenses are strong and capable of warding off attack, the public must understand that there is great risk involved as we continuously build our biological defenses. As more institutions and individuals work with dangerous biological agents, there is always a possibility that harmful pathogens will escape from a laboratory, as evidenced in the film. Thousands of individuals are given access to materials, technologies, and knowledge within the defense industry that could be used to foster biological weapons attacks Furthermore, the more secret and active a country is in their biological practices, the more incentive other countries have to build their own biological stockpiles of an offensive nature. The American people have to trust that our military will use biological weapon research in a purely defensive nature, because if other nations see our work as too aggressive, then it may prompt them to be overly defensive. Bottom line, there is no win-win situation in biological warfare or defense. The fact that the diseases exist and humans have the capability to harness them is already an impossible, deadly threat to humanity.