The New Terror: Facing the Threat of Biological and Chemical Weapons

Thursday, November 11, 1999

The growing threat of biological and chemical weapons (BCW) has created the frightening prospect of terrorist attacks by states, state-sanctioned terrorist organizations, and destructive individuals loose in our midst. What can we do to prepare for this threat? This illuminating and often disturbing book brings together the views of leading thinkers—in science, medicine, international and constitutional law, law enforcement, intelligence, and crisis management—on all diverse aspects of this challenge based on their statements at the November 1998 Hoover Institution Conference on Biological and Chemical Weapons. The New Terror takes a hard look at the most pressing BCW issues facing the international community and realistic options for preventing, deterring against, and mitigating the consequences of the use of BCW, including

  • How advances in biomedical science, manufacturing processes, and weapons technology are enhancing the threat of BCW
  • What responses are available to the U.S. intelligence community to meet current and future threats from BCW—and the major weaknesses it needs to remedy
  • How efforts to build BCW control regimes through treaties and inspections have been impeded by industrial concerns about protecting proprietary information and governmental concerns about sovereignty
  • The public health disaster that could occur if a BCW attack should actually take place—and what is being done to prepare an effective response
  • How constitutional constraints on law enforcement efforts work against the development of BCW in the United States
  • The value of threats, sanctions, and preventive strikes as a deterrent to BCW—and the risks of using nuclear weapons in this regard
  • The specific steps that can be taken to reduce the dangers of or mitigate the consequences of BCW attacks—and possibly lead to a norm for the nonuse of BCW

This book shows the value in not allowing our fears of BCW terrorism to run wild, so that even the basic problems of security—how to deter and what to do if deterrence fails—seem insurmountable. Much can be done to minimize the dangers posed by these weapons and to prepare for and control the damage they can cause. The New Terror is an important contribution in the effort to bridge the gap between this deadly problem and its potential solutions.

Copyright 1999.