The footage below captures the spirit of these weapons, if not the horror some of them have caused. War is brutal. Even so, some countries have come together to try and limit that brutality. Still, the pursuit of humane war seems like an oxymoron to some, like most dictators. As a result, most of the items on this list are still in use.
While there are many types of lasers in use currently, few are meant to blind. Those are the ones that are banned.
You can burn holes in your opponent, just don’t blind them with lasers. This seems to be one of the more antiquated ideas on the list, and one that takes the wording of “blind” literally. You can use lasers to temporarily disable their eyesight.
Ricin remains popular with home-grown and international terrorists, alike. Ricin is derived from castor beans, rather easily, and can be shipped in very small quantities through the mail.
The poison has to be taken internally, though. If you breathe it in, it can kill you. If you ingest it, Ricin will kill you that much faster.
Mustard gas raises serious blisters. The chemical was popular during World War I, when soldiers were hiding out in trenches. Shells were filled with the gas and fired over otherwise unreachable soldiers.
Yet the wounds were horrific. The gas had a habit of blowing back, too, onto the army that fired the shells. While most civilized countries are no longer using it, those desperate to win at any cost still keep stockpiles as an option.
This seems like a very gruesome way to die. And it is highly contagious. While it hasn’t been seen in many of our recent fights, there are Islamic extremists who are believed to be trying to weaponize the plague again.
The result would be biological warfare that is almost unstoppable.
Punji Sticks are simple in design. Historically, they’re built from bamboo. The sticks are fire hardened and sharpened.
When they are contaminated with feces or contagions, they leave their victims with nasty infections. The trick here isn’t the way they kill, but the way they take out multiple soldiers. One punji stick victim usually requires another soldier to help in the painful recovery, so two soldiers (often more) are taken from the fight.
Land Mines are littering the globe. There have been millions hidden in battle-zones. Some of those areas are no longer contested, but the mines remain.
As such, they are extremely dangerous to civilians who come home after the fighting stops. The mines remain lethal for decades, maybe centuries.
White Phosphorous burns brightly, and creates a tremendous amount of smoke, both of which have martial applications.
It is also very hard to extinguish. That makes it deadly. The material has been used as a weapon against people. It causes severe burns or is fatal.
Cluster Bombs should be a surprise to anyone. These were very popular options for covering large groups of soldiers. One large shell, or a bomb, or even a missile can deploy many smaller bombs. These smaller bombs spread shrapnel indiscriminately.
Unfortunately, they look like toys. When they don’t blow on contact, as they often don’t, they remain primed and become a danger to civilians, particularly children.
This one may be the most paradoxical on the list. News flash: bullets are deadly. Soldiers around the world, especially those who agree on the rules of war, shoot each other. While the intent is to kill, hollow points–which are more lethal than traditional “ball” ammunition–can’t be used.
That means bullets may wound more frequently than they kill. Police and civilians in the U.S. carry, almost exclusively, hollow points. The military is trying to get them approved for use in their sidearms, too.
The last on the list may be the most dangerous. VX nerve gas is part of many countries’ arsenals, including our own, yet we seem to view its existence as more of a deterrent.
Not so for the dictators. And so we end where we begin. Though all of these items have been banned from civilized fights, if there is such a thing, we still work with them.
As nation-states have stopped (directly) pummeling each other, proxy wars are still common. And terrorists don’t play by any rules.