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Politics and the Life Sciences is about to enter its second pioneering decade. Its first decade has been exciting and productive; its second should prove even more so. I am honored to serve as editor as we enter that second decade. I hope I will be a worthy successor to Tom Wiegele, the extraordinary man who founded the journal and guided it for almost ten years. This issue is dedicated to Tom's memory, with affection, respect, and gratitude.
It is proposed that the established epidemiologic framework normally used for investigation of civilian epidemics can usefully be adapted to provide a more structured approach to future investigations of allegations of chemical, biological, or toxin warfare. Using this framework, investigations of such allegations during the past decade are reviewed. These investigations took place during the yellow rain affair in Laos and Kampuchea, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Iraq-Kurd war. Further allegations are likely and will require investigation.
The article by Peter Barss is a valuable contribution to the existing literature on the investigation of the use of chemical, biological, or toxin weapons (CBW).1 He constructs detailed procedures to investigate allegations of the use of any of these weapons from the perspective of epidemiology theory. Barss reviews the investigations of the alleged use of toxin weapons (“yellow rain”) in Laos and Cambodia, the use of chemical weapons by both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, and the use of chemical weapons by Iraq against its own Kurdish population. He argues persuasively that these inquiries would have been conducted more effectively if the teams had followed standard procedures for field investigations according to epidemiology theory.
In June of 1991, a team of experts from the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspected an Iraqi facility at Samarra, known as the “Muthanna State Enterprise for Pesticide Production.” Its inspection revealed a chemical weapons factory (United Nations, 1991). Inspectors found mustard gas and organophosphorus nerve agents, types GB and GF, as well as tabun—agent GA (CBW News, 1991). They estimated that the facility had the capacity to produce 2.5 tons of sarin and 5 tons of mustard gas per day. According to media reports, “dozens” of companies were implicated in the construction and production processes of the facility, including companies originating from Austria, France, Germany, India, Switzerland, the United States, and seven other countries (CBW News, 1991; Independent, July 17, 1991).
Anyone interested in assessing an allegation of unconventional warfare would agree with the statement by Peter Barss that “the investigation of an alleged outbreak of CBTW should be conducted, whenever possible, in accordance with the well-tested steps that guide the standard epidemiologic investigation of an outbreak of disease or injuries.” In fact, during my tenure as commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, response teams were organized in various configurations to deploy on short notice to carry out thorough epidemiological investigations should an incident occur in which the use of biological agents might be suspected or considered. The teams were equipped and organized with the appropriate mix of expertise to carry out the type of epidemiological investigations discussed by Barss.
Peter Barss makes a compelling case both for the value of epidemiology in investigating suspected use of chemical, biological, or toxin warfare (CBTW), and for consistency in epidemiologic procedures. Since John Snow in the nineteenth century, “armed only with [his] five senses and [his] notebook,” carried out his pioneering epidemiologic investigations to determine the source of the cholera epidemic then raging in London, the value of epidemiology for analyzing incidents of unexpected illness or death, in whatever context they occur, has been demonstrated many times over. Despite this, as Barss convincingly shows, the routine practice of field epidemiology is still often not fully or properly utilized in investigating alleged CBTW.
Is it possible to prevent biological, chemical, and toxin warfare from occurring? The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), an international treaty banning the possession and hostile use of biological and toxin weapons, already exists; and a similar chemical weapons treaty is currently being negotiated. The older Geneva Protocol of 1925 bans the “first use” of these weapons in war. It might seem that the threat of use of these weapons of mass destruction is nearly at an end.
The unique contributions of five experts with diverse professional backgrounds and interests substantially augment my article, for which I am grateful. In my response, I will briefly summarize what I see as the principal addition of each author to the original findings, and then comment upon any reservations I have concerning their conclusions.
Supreme Court oral argument (OA) is one of many face-to-face settings of political interaction. This article describes a methodology for the systematic observation and measurement of behavior in OA developed in a study of over 300 randomly selected cases from the 1969-1981 terms of the U.S. Supreme Court. Five sources of observation are integrated into the OA database at the speaking turn level of analysis: the actual text of verbal behavior; categorical behavior codes; aspects of language use and speech behavior events; electro-acoustical measurement of voice quality; and content analysis of subject matter. Preliminary data are presented to illustrate the methodology and its application to theoretical concerns of the research project.
The practice of medicine, which traditionally falls outside the sphere of substantive governmental control, poses challenges to political scientists who perceive the need for oversight regarding problematic new technologies. The challenge is even greater when the technologies involve reproduction, in which constitutional liberties are at stake. This article suggests a private policy model for overseeing one problematic emerging reproductive technology—the diagnosis of chromosomal and genetic disorders in human embryos. It bids political scientists to examine and recommend creative private sector policies appropriate to biomedicine. Rules developed in the private sector, if regarded as obligatory by clinicians, offer a theoretically interesting bridge between voluntary ethical principles and mandatory public sector rules.
Broadly defined, political activity normally involves some form of coalition, usually centering upon resource acquisition, and is not restricted to humans. Male and female mammals appear to have evolved to seek and use resources differently—males to get mates (mating effort) and females to raise healthy, successful offspring (parental effort). Because the return curves for these two types of effort differ in shape, several predictions follow about sex differences in political activity. These predictions are tested using the 93 odd-numbered societies of the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Results offer insights into current patterns of male and female political activity in Western societies.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS short note is to update readers on recent developments in, and political implications of, genetic engineering, a critical tool in the expanding field of biotechnology. Based on new understanding of the mechanisms of DNA, molecular biologists are now able to chemically cut genes or sets of genes from one organism and splice them into the DNA of another. This is called recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology. Although these techniques were first applied to bacteria and yeasts, in the last decade researchers have made remarkable strides in putting foreign genes into more complex plants and animals.
The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) of 1972 bans the development and possession of biological and toxin weapons. Yet the threat that a country may acquire and use biological and toxin weapons (BTW) persists—not all nations are party to the treaty, and doubts remain about the compliance of countries who are. Seventy of the 118 nations who are parties to the treaty met in Geneva from September 9 to 27, 1991, to review the performance of the treaty and to grapple with its weaknesses. This was the third such conference convened since the treaty went into force in 1975. The relatively low level of participation in the Third Review Conference was not the result of any protest, but most likely a reflection of disinterest or neglect.
In order to honor Tom Wiegele on the occasion of his retirement, we planned to carry in this issue a profile of his career and his contributions to our field. As the journal's founding editor and the association's founding executive director, Tom's extraordinary accomplishments deserved to be publicly applauded. We are all greatly saddened that Tom's sudden death from an aneurysm on August 9, 1991, just two days after a retirement celebration, has converted our profile into a tribute in memoriam. We share with Tom's family, his friends, his students, and his other colleagues our sorrow and our sense of loss over his premature passing.
Tom Wiegele was a class act. Tall, white-haired, distinguished, thoughtful, and, above all, principled, he appeared too good to be true. Tom exemplified that precious and, it sometimes seems, increasingly rare combination, a gentleman and a scholar.
Tom Wiegele will be sorely missed by all who knew him. No single person had more influence on my career than Tom. My first contact with him came in 1979 when he telephoned me to express his interest in my work in genetic technology and to invite me to serve as a discussant on a panel he was chairing. His sincere interest in my work was most welcome at that point and hastened my transition to biopolitical research.
Among the founders of our interdisciplinary field of inquiry, Tom Wiegele was preeminent. He was the catalyst in drawing together in a collegial association the many of us who, from different backgrounds, had come to see the unfolding social implications of advances in the life sciences for both public policy and the study of politics. He possessed a combination of leadership skills in both concepts and organization that is rarely found in academia.
Tom Wiegele had a very special influence on my life, as he did on the lives of many. He was first my teacher, then my mentor, my colleague, and, most importantly, my friend. It was easy to be infected by Tom's enthusiasm for his work. Although trained in traditional international relations theory, Tom was convinced that all politics, including international relations, is fundamentally the behavior of human beings. The more one understands about humans as humans, the better one's explanations of political behavior will be.
I first met Tom Wiegele sometime in the early 1970s. Our chats about kindred interests became increasingly frequent thereafter, whether they occurred at professional meetings, by phone, or by letter. By 1976, when we spent some time together at the IPSA Congress in Edinburgh, I had become greatly impressed with his talents and dedication as a scholar, and with his commitment to promoting biopolitical study.
During the 1980s, there was substantial growth in biopolitical scholarship and organizational activity. In addition to the many articles and books that were published, the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences was formed, this journal was launched, and a Politics and the Life Sciences Organized Section was established within the American Political Science Association.