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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of American scientific communities and industry on US chemical & biological weapons policy Winzoski, Karen Jane


This thesis examines the effects that scientific communities and domestic industry have had on US chemical and biological weapons policy over the last forty years, and in particular their influence in the successful ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997, and the US rejection of the proposed verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 2001. To explore the interaction of scientific communities, industry and government, scientific and industrial publications from 1965 to 2006 were systematically researched, and interviews were conducted with individuals from academia, industry and government who were directly involved with the formulation of US chemical and biological weapons policy. This thesis concludes that scientists have at times exerted considerable influence over US chemical weapons policy. Furthermore, concerted efforts in support of chemical disarmament on the part of the US chemical industry made a tremendous contribution towards the success of the CWC. It also concludes that even though the microbiology community had a significant impact on US biological weapons policy in the 1960s, the biotech revolution split the microbiology community into two competing factions, and decreased the influence of scientists who continued to lobby for arms control. Furthermore, this study finds that although the pharmaceutical and biotech industry is frequently blamed for the failure of the BWC verification protocol, in reality it played a minor role in this decision. Several of this study's findings have implications for International Relations theories that examine how and why arms control regimes emerge, in particular the epistemic communities and Military-Industrial Complex literatures. Consistent with Matthew Evangelista's analysis of the effects of international epistemic communities on Soviet nuclear policy, this study demonstrates that scientists are most influential when they develop personal relationships with high-ranking policymakers, particularly the head of state. Perhaps this study's most original theoretical finding is that although corporations involved with defence are invariably assumed to be motivated solely by their own financial interests, even by non-rationalist theories, these industries can pursue more enlightened ends. Thus, this study opens a door for International Relations scholars to think of defence industry interests as politically interesting.

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