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Chemical Romance

The revelation that Kim Jong Un's brother was murdered through the use of VX nerve gas is the latest reminder of the proverbial love of dictators for all things chemical (weapons, that is). Or, sometimes, just plain chemicals. 

Let's start with weapons, though.

It burns!

Illustration by Ben Mills - Own work, Public Domain, 

There is ample historical precedence for the use of chemical weapons by authoritarian regimes and rulers, and one can go way back in history for this, if you consider 'Greek fire' a chemical weapon. More recently of course, we have the use of mustard and chlorine gas in WWI authorized by the German high command, and the notorious work of Saddam Hussein and 'chemical' Ali during the former's rule of Iraq, where such weapons were used against the Iranians and the Kurds. The leader of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo also had a fondness for nerve agents--in this case, sarin gas.

But when it comes to recreational chemicals, it seems no one had anything on Hitler. A new book details his increasingly prolific use of substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and others as WW2 drew on, to the point where using the word 'junkie' to describe him is probably a wild understatement. 

Perhaps all dictators are really frustrated chemists at heart.  

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