Policy & Politics

Fogs of War: The Many Lives of Chemical Weapons

We take a look at why chemical weapons were first created and the complicated process of getting rid of them.

Episode 192 | October 21, 2014

Chemical weapons have played a chilling role in human history ever since they were first used in World War I.  As reports of more recent use continue to cycle through the news, we decided to take a deeper look. 

The story begins in Belgium, where reporter Helena de Groot visits a farm in Flanders Fields—the frontline during World War I—and discovers that for some people the war isn’t yet over.

Then we talk to Jeffrey Johnson, a historian of science and technology at Villanova University with a special interest in the origins of chemical warfare, and Amy E. Smithson, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, who specializes in modern-day chemical and biological weapons and their proliferation. Our guests discuss the past and present of chemical weapons, and share their thoughts about the future of warfare.


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guests: Amy E. Smithson and Jeffrey Johnson
Reporter: Helena de Groot
Producer and Editor: Mariel Carr
Music: Courtesy of Audio Network, the Free Music Archive, and Mobygratis.com