TECHNOLOGY AND NAVAL BLOCKADE: Past Impact and Future Prospects

By Barnett, Roger W. | Naval War College Review, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

TECHNOLOGY AND NAVAL BLOCKADE: Past Impact and Future Prospects


Barnett, Roger W., Naval War College Review


Anyone who wishes to cope with the future should travel back in imagination a single lifetime . . . and ask himself just how much of today's technology would be, not merely incredible, but incomprehensible to the keenest scientific brains of that time.

ARTHUR C. CLARKE

Through the centuries major changes have taken place in the ability of states to prevent the movement of ships or particular goods over the sea lanes of the world. Some of the changes have been wrought by technological evolution, some by increasing importance of seaborne trade, and some by alterations in the structure of international relations. The combined effect has profoundly affected both the way maritime blockades are conducted in the twenty-first century and the means employed for them. In large measure, it has also rendered the traditional law of blockade obsolete.

BLOCKADE OPERATIONS

Until World War I maritime blockades were undertaken by states seeking to prevent the movement of ships or cargoes that would assist in the ability of adversaries to conduct international armed conflict. Blockade law evolved in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to regulate how states conducted blockades while concurrently safeguarding the rights of neutrals to use the open seas to conduct nonproscribed trade.

The appearance in the last half of the nineteenth century and first decades of the twentieth of sea mines, surface and submarine torpedo-attack craft, long-range rifled guns with exploding projectiles, and eventually aircraft meant that the traditional form of blockade-in close proximity to the adversary's coastline, where ships could be kept under surveillance and discouraged from departing their ports-could no longer be sustained.2 Thus maritime blockade evolved into long-range operations or blockade zones, and the rules that had been laid down for the conduct of blockade were for the most part ignored or rationalized away.

New technologies had required blockading states to move farther from the adversary's coastline, and at the same time they promoted the use of submarines and mines as instruments of blockade, because they were relatively immune to countermeasures by the blockaded party. In both the First and second World Wars the law-imposed requirements to visit and search ships, before attacking them, in order to determine whether they were carrying contraband and to provide for the safety of people on ships attempting to breach the blockade were massively violated.

A prescient Yale Law Journal article over a decade ago declared,

In the future blockade may become even more important as the need of a blockading state to stop every merchant ship grows more vital. The recent willingness of ostensibly neutral states to supply not simply technical know-how and materials for weapons construction, but also ready-for-use missiles and other decisive weapons, to the highest bidder portends such a future. As the negative consequences of allowing even one ship to pass uninspected grow more severe, blockading states will become more willing to use the new blockade forms [long-range blockade and blockade zones] at the expense of neutral interests.3

What the writer could not have foreseen happened on 11 September 2001events that changed the world, and in ways not yet fully comprehended. What was extraordinary about the events on that date was that a nonstate entity had succeeded in conducting a coordinated attack against a sovereign state on its home territory with a hitherto unappreciated weapon of mass destruction, a fully fueled airliner. Historically, weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-such as nuclear, chemical, radiological, and biological weapons-have been under the strict control of sovereign states, their manufacture, storage, and use carefully constrained physically by security measures and strategically by deterrence and international law. The message conveyed on 11 September was that henceforth weapons of mass destruction could be controlled, distributed, and perhaps used by nonstate entities or even individuals.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

TECHNOLOGY AND NAVAL BLOCKADE: Past Impact and Future Prospects
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.