On Fox News this morning, it turns out that other interviewers have made the same statement as the one that got Sean Spicer into such trouble. They said “Even the Nazis did not use chemical weapons” and in one sense this is completely right.
Chemical weapons are flammable. What broadcasters meant to say was “Even the Nazis were not so reckless, sadistic and stupid as to use chemical weapons in warfare in an uncontrolled environment.“
5th century B.C. Spartans ignite a blend of tar and sulphur to drive out the Athenians in the world’s first known act of chemical warfare.
672 The Byzantines perfect and deploy “Greek fire,” a top-secret incendiary blend believed to include naphtha, sulphur and calcium phosphide. The pressurized weapon twice saved Constantinople from Arab sieges. Variations were used for centuries to come.
1865 Napoleon III calls a halt to experiments with asphyxiating shells near Châlons after watching 30 dogs perish, declaring the barbarity of the weapon to be against the “law of nations.”
By June 1925, the world says never again, adopting the Geneva Protocol, banning the use of “asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases” and “bacteriological weapons of warfare.”
The Nazis knew the unpredictability of chemical weapons and the danger they represented in the open air. When they used such a weapon in the worst and most tragic mass assassination in human history, killing millions of innocent Jews, they made sure that their own precious hides were safe.
Sean Spicer was making a valid point and should not be sacked because of it – we just needed more detail. Killing innocent men, women and little children with chemical weapons contained in gas chambers is in a category of its own. This was not warfare. It was the most lethal, evil and cowardly means of mass killing in history.