Longreads

Anna Feigenbaum | An Excerpt from: Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today | Verso | November 2017 | 22 minutes (6,015 words) 

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Just as some in Europe argued that chemical weapons were a mark of a civilized society, for General Fries war gases were the ultimate American technology.

With his thick moustache and piercing, deep-set eyes, General Amos Fries’s passion shone through as he spoke. In a 1921 lecture to military officers at the General Staff College in Washington, DC, Fries lauded the Chemical Warfare Service for its wartime achievements. The US entered the chemical arms race “with no precedents, no materials, no literature and no personnel.” The 1920s became a golden age of tear gas. Fries capitalized on the US military’s enthusiastic development of chemical weapons during the war, turning these wartime technologies into everyday policing tools. As part…

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